Week 4: Are You Capable Enough to Be a Teacher?

This week I started volunteering at the shelter.

When we arrived to VFI and discussed our duties as interns, our supervisor told us that if we had free time and any skills we would be willing to teach the girls at the shelter, anything we could do would be greatly appreciated. The VFI shelter here in Vientiane houses girls and young women who are at-risk of being trafficked, have been trafficked or have experienced domestic violence. At the shelter, they are given housing, counseling, and livelihood-generating support through vocational training and life skills training. All of this is done with the objective of reducing the girls chances of being trafficked or re-trafficked. Because I am working with the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Children (PEWC) Office this summer, I was excited to do what I could to help out.

In my previous semester in Chile, I learned five different Latin American dances that I felt like I can teach the girls if they were interested. In the meeting I had with the shelter’s director, she suggested that I could bake cookies or other treats with the girls, or I could teach english. As we were brainstorming, I was reminded of the hobbies I used to take up as a kid that I had so mercilessly abandoned after a few months of interest. I offered to help teach the girls piano, and how to make jewelry and origami, but the last time I had done any of these things was almost eight to ten years ago. For one, this made me sad to think about my lack of hobbies as a young adult. But another thought I had was what gives me the authority to say I can teach these girls any of these things? I was told that any knowledge I could share would be helpful but it feels fraudulent to take on the role of a teacher when in my opinion, teachers should be taught and trained to teach in order for them to be effective. Even the unofficial teachers in your life that teach you about life, speak from experience. I might be taking this task too seriously and it can be as simple as doing an arts and crafts activity but I don’t want to over-promise.

So, I decided to start off with teaching English classes because I had some experience from when I was an english tutor in France. But as I prepared for my first lesson, I still felt at a loss. As a virgo, I am a perfectionist and an over-thinker and I always want to make sure what I am doing will have a positive impact. I did not want to walk in to the shelter claiming to be able to teach these girls english but instead only confuse them more. Then coupled with the fact that I do not speak Lao and cannot translate the majority of the words I would be saying to them, I was concerned about how helpful I would actually be. 

But, the first lesson went well.

We discussed basic greetings and how to introduce ourselves including stating where we are from and how old we are. The girls seemed like they found what we had learned helpful, and I honestly felt relieved that the class had gone so well. As I continue to do this, I do not expect that I will exponentially improve their english ability but one of the things I am good at is entertaining young people and children, so my goal is to make sure the girls are having a fun time and feeling good about themselves.


  1. mnwarner says:

    I am very intrigued by your research! I appreciate the fact that you were cautious and steered clear of trying to step on anyone’s toes. You took the necessary steps to complete your tasks to the fullest and I hope you are successful in your endeavors!