In Laos, books are rare, school texts are often unavailable, and books are often cost prohibitive. Founded in 2000, The Language Project makes it clear that books matter! They have been creating and/or supporting libraries in Northern Laos with the pedagogical belief that if motivated people are given the right tools and resources, they can help themselves. Through their efforts as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization, many lives have been impacted.
With only 8% of villages/towns having lower secondary schools, students often move and live with relatives, on their own, or at temples as novice monks to be able to continue their education (2003).
Located in the heart of Luang Prabang, their main location is called “@My Library”. Open 6 days a week from essentially 9 am until 9 pm, the library is packed with young men and women who are thirsty for knowledge. Not just serving as a place that loans books, the library staff has set up stations for thinking games, science experiments, and other curiosities that lure visitors and users to learn something new. Behind the scenes are various contests that encourage and promote users to give it a try – nothing to lose! There are writing contests, speech contests, bridge building contests, thinking contests (often with games) and the ever popular photo contests (users can check out digital cameras).
Another inviting aspect is that @My Library has many computers. Their computers are equipped with thinking games, and applications that teach you how to type or teach you a new language (English and beyond). Besides books, movies can be checked out or watched on the spot. What better way to learn a language than through listening and watching something entertaining?
The percentage of the population that have never been to school has dropped to 23%.
Help empower learning in a country that very much needs it! Stop by @My Library on your next visit to Luang Prabang and observe for yourself the activities that happen there. Better yet, become a volunteer there or at one of their other featured libraries.