UBELONG in Laos
Ryan may not know what he’s doing tomorrow in Laos, but he knows why he’s there.
Several months ago, fellow Cornellian, Ryan Anthony, introduced me to UBELONG (which is led by yet two more Cornellians). You can read my past posts about UBELONG here.
Ryan is volunteering in Laos for an organization called Equal Education for All, teaching English and basic computer skills. He also helps out with the organic garden they keep. Ryan also helped to build their new website. Ryan adds, “I’ve given farm tours, milked goats, planted trees, harvested mulberries, waited tables at the restaurant on the farm, helped guests check in and out, and painted a new sign for reception.”
Ryan’s (at left in the photo above) desire to serve in Laos grew out of his relationship with his wife, Poukhan (next to Ryan), and her family as they are from Laos.
Ryan and Poukhan’s service in Laos was interrupted by her mother’s cancer diagnosis. It is informative to prospective volunteers, that both UBELONG and Equal Education for All agreed to work with them so that they could complete their volunteer service at a later time–which they are now doing.
Motivated by a desire to leave their mark on the world and get to know Laos before they settled down and had children, Ryan and Poukhan both quit their jobs, packed up their belongings in New York and shipped them off to Ryan’s dad’s home in Minnesota to do some good in the world.
Ryan explained, “This has been a magnificent way to immerse ourselves in the culture that surrounds my wife and I when we are with her extended family in Minnesota. We have picked up on the language more and seen some of her family that remained in Laos as well.”
He noted that volunteering in Laos did not represent the beginning of their interest in helping others, “We have both volunteered throughout our lives. She taught and helped out at many organizations her whole life, and I had done so much more when I was a student in high school and college. We both wanted an opportunity to do a little more, and when we saw UBelong advertising itself and offering an opportunity to volunteer in Laos in an affordable way, we decided that it would be a great experience for us.”
If you would like more information about UBELONG, visit their website at UBELONG.org.
Don’t forget, you can still contribute to the Funding Your Mark on the World Campaign at StartSomeGood.com.
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