September 2004

In this issue: Our users come from everywhere, Thank you, Then and now, We Know Were Successful When, Laos Through Their Eyes,

Our Users Come From Everywhere

When I went home to the village with a novice his main concerns were if I could get there and if I could eat the food. The trip was long...9 hours by truck, one hour by boat then 3 hours climbing the mountains. The food was great, I ate several foods for the first time, ant eggs, grilled mole and rat and the mash from making Lao whiskey. It was his first time home in 3 years, he can't afford the journey. His parents are illiterate, and his village school went only to the 3rd grade so he followed in the footsteps of an older brother and became a novice to get an education. He is not unusual. Most kids in the countryside need to migrate to continue their education. The poorest become novices while those whose families can afford to help move to towns with regional schools and live on their own in small bamboo huts behind the school.

The Language Project creates libraries at the novices' high schools and where there are regional high shools to support those who go out on their own to continue their education.

Back to Top

Thank You!

boy reading in The Listening LibraryThis project could not exist without you and the assistance so many of you have given. Whether it is a monetary donation, specific books, computers, furniture, library space or your time, each and every gift is well used and greatly appreciated. We are selective in our acquisitions so each of our materials meets a real need. Some popular books are used every day and pass through so many hands that they appear aged in a matter of months.

This is not a government project or a project sponsored by grants and foundations. It is a small person-to-person project and your gifts enable us to change the world, one person and one book at a time. We are grateful for your contributions. Your support makes a difference.

Wish Lists and Donations

Back to Top

Then and Now

Sok Pa Luang Library started with newspaper on the walls and everyone sitting on the floor. It, like all of our libraries was built up gradually. Over time we bought materials based on the needs, interests and demand we saw and expanded as they were able to take on greater caretaker roles.

See the transformation

Back to Top

We Know We're Successful When...

Library users standing up to read
  • users come back everyday and often more than once a day.
  • ESL teachers visit from Europe or Asia and are impressed by our collection of materials, the number of users and the diligence of our users and staff.
  • we meet former novices and library users out in the world, using their English skills for work and they always ask, "do you remember me?"
  • our users bring foreigners they meet to see "their library" of which they are so proud.

Back to Top

Laos Through Their Eyes

Computer illustration of Hmong village lifeThis is just one of the many incredible pictures created at the Listening Library using Microsoft Paint. It is a picture of traditional Hmong village life. It is similar in style to the story cloths that the Hmong embroider. The costumes in the picture are similar to the traditional Hmong dress worn now in Laos.

The Hmong migrated from China in search of freedom and a better life, and continue to migrate. This year the last 15,000 refugees in Thailand have been cleared for immigration to the US. The young Hmong are bright and not afraid of hard work. They make up a much higher percentage of our library users than they represent in the population, and even though Lao is their 2nd language and English their 3rd they often excel in school and win scholarships for further study. The Hmong language, which became a written language 50 years ago, uses the same alphabet as English so learning to type in English enables them to type Hmong.

Computer illustration of Hmong girl in traditional dressThis is another computer painting created in The Listening Library. The Hmong says "you are beautiful like this flower".

We have a Hmong section in The Listening Library, including bilingual English-Hmong books. All of these books are unavailable here...most are bought in the United States. Hmong users notice immediately when we have a new book, are thrilled to read of their culture and traditional tales and are amazed that the US has such books when they do not. Being here, I can clearly see the great value that every book has. It is my hope that today's library users, with the skills they are gaining, will become tomorrow's authors creating such works for their own people and country.&


Back to Top