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2009, December

These days, the Mano English Language Centre is known to the department of education as the MEC, the Mekong English Centre.

It was partly the department that made the requirement of a name change needed to be eligible for an official government licence to teach which for a few reasons is to the advantage of the Language Centre.

For 2 months now, Mr. Claus has been teaching a separate 'assistant teacher course' to a small group of very promising students who have a passion for English and want to teach it to those students that we in general teach at the Centre.

One hour a day these 'assistant teachers' attend a specific course with Mr. Claus in which he tries to convey the ins and outs of teaching English as he sees it, using a variety of resources to underline a thing or two and more. Besides this class, the assistant teachers have the luxury of attending actual classes in which they can practise their theories.

The course will last 6 months after which the assistant teachers will take on their own classes therewith increasing dramatically the number of students we can take on.

Although not all students studying English at the Centre are eligible for sponsorship, many are. Fortunately for these students there is the foundation ELK (English for Lao Kids), based in Holland and a welcome source of sponsors who are willing to pay our needy students' English classes either on a monthly basis or longer.

Although the monthly fee is not high, sponsorship to these needy students makes a huge difference. One such example is Mr. Lue.

Mr. Lue had studied at our Centre for some months already as a paying student (we follow an unwritten policy that eligible students should have first 'proven' themselves as being serious and wanting students), paying his fees from money he earned as a night receptionist at some hotel in Luang Prabang.

I visited Mr. Lue's hometown over the Hmong New Year last week and I came away from it quite 'refreshed' and reminded as to how many people in the countryside live their lives. There are those, including myself, who are inclined to see some charm in country-life as lived in Laos, but that is an easy thing to do when, at the end of the day, I can return to the comforts and plenties of my own life and I don't have to worry because a 10-member family has finished the supply of last year’s rice harvest and there is no money to buy additional rice to eat, so father has to leave the next morning to the mountains for 2 days to find edible fruits while his wife stays at home giving birth to twins.

The concept of family-planning is a quick thought to consider in the above mentioned example, but not so for the people involved. They have no idea, because they never went to school, save 1 or 2 years at primary school where family planning was not discussed much.

My point at the moment is that you who sponsor students are so very important in creating a window of opportunity for our students who so desperately wish to improve the often poor lifestyles of their families in the countryside.

Thanks to the individual sponsors. Thanks to the students of the Ommelander College in Appingedam who are still providing opportunities today with the money they collected last year, and thanks to the ELK foundation for getting people involved!

Happy New Year !!

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Mr. Lue