“I have started to become a volunteer of Reading Elephant since January 2019. This was the period when I conducted my intensive fieldwork in Bokeo Province, Northern Laos. Volunteering in this organization was really a wonderful experience. My experiences of teaching English to Buddhist monks and Lao students — both in Houaysai and other remote villages of the province — have enabled me not only to share my knowledge and pieces of my broken heart, but also to learn and reflect on life. Apart from learning new things about rural life in Laos, my Lao students have also taught me to be happy and grateful. Despite the experience of poverty, the young people with whom I taught always wore their best smile and showed their enthusiasm to learn. Even if we only shared little things with them, their hearts were always full of gratitude. The fulfilment of seeing the smiles of these young people and listening to their dreams for themselves and for their families cannot be bought by money nor any material wealth. Most importantly, being a volunteer at Reading Elephant has allowed me to meet my second home in Laos — the loving company of Holger, Aiy Keo, Siao Touy, Huk, and their families.”

John Ponce (ຈອນ ປອນ), Valenzuela City, The Philippines