In this issue: Learning to Fish, Travel that Matters, Laos Through Our Own Eyes and Entrepreneurship for Sustainability
Learning to Fish
We adhere to the development philosophy "If you give a man a fish he eats for today, if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime"...and we go just a little further...once you learn to fish we encourage you to teach others.
Yes, we do a bit of teaching but mostly we support self-study. I don't think anyone is learning to fish at our libraries...but they are learning the usual academic subjects as well as to grow teak and mushrooms, set and achieve goals, speak Japanese, program and fix computers, work as a tour guide or in a restaurant, teach English, and understand and talk about their multiethnic culture...to problem solve, think, imagine and create.
I've watched a student carry on a long conversation in Japanese with a native speaker, never having had a class, just daily self-study with computer programs, books and CDs. He has a dream to win a scholarship to study in Japan when he finishes University. I also watched him discover a kindred spirit, and now they study together, teaching each other in a corner of the library. My role is simple...to encourage, and to find the best materials I can for the library to help them in their quest.
Good resources and tools in the hands of motivated individuals yield amazing results!
How can a library in an uderdeveloped country with a government challenged by meeting basic needs become sustainable? And with 41% of the population under the age of 14, a mean age of 18.9 and 80% of total employment in subsistence agriculture, where will all the kids find jobs?
We think these challenges are important and that nurturing and supporting entrepreneurship is one way to address them.
We didn't set out to have a photo gallery. First we received donated digital cameras, encouraged those who were often the subject of tourist photos to show "Laos Through Their Own Eyes," noticed and nurtured some talent in photography and Photoshop, then put their works on display in the library, and suddenly we had buyers.
With a little push and support from a family of tourists the photographers painted the entryway to "My Library" and we had a gallery. Their work is beautiful, the gallery is successful with 14 photos sold in the first 2 weeks (generating funds for both the library and the photographers who help support their families and their education). With everyone understanding more about entrepreneurship we have begun to meet the challenge of a sustainable library and the issue of where they will all find jobs...with the right skills and understanding they can create them!
See some of our Gallery photos
Watch for our photo exhibition, "Laos Through Our Own Eyes" opening on Saturday July 14th at the Visiones Gallery, 212 Gold SW in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This exhibition is sponsored by working classroom www.workingclassroom.org, and will be part of the biannual Albuquerque Photo Festival. Photographs will be available for sale through their website at www.workingclassroom.org.
Travel That Matters
Have you dreamed of travel to Southeast Asia, but are discerning enough to want "socially conscious" travel... an opportunity to really see inside a culture and to give something back? Elevate Destinations designs extraordinary travel with a philanthropic intent.
In 2007 The Language Project will be the beneficiary of their Southeast Asian trip: "Journey through Sacred Places: Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia" November 3-18. 2007.
You will have the opportunity to visit our largest self-study library in Luang Prabang, Laos, a beautiful town nestled in the mountains along the Mekong River and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the best preserved town in Southeast Asia.
You will learn about our project and libraries, see this library in use and meet the users. You can even come back during your free time to use our resources, share your skills or meet more of our extraordinary students.
We invite you to take the journey of a lifetime that also makes a lifetime of difference to others. Elevate Destinations: http://www.elevatedestinations.com/journeysacred.html
PS: If you would rather travel on your own but would like assistance with your plans, the tour leader for this trip, email@example.com can custom design individual, group and family trips where travel and philanthropy are combined.
Having money affords many luxuries that make life easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable, but perhaps the greatest luxury that money can buy is the luxury of giving. Giving feeds our hearts and souls, helps us to become the best we can be, helps us live our true values. Giving makes a difference; it makes the world a better place... for everyone.
If you are giving this holiday season, please add us to your gift list, or use a gift to us as a way to buy something truly meaningful for that person on your list who already has everything. We value your gifts and use them to change the world, one book, one person and one library at a time.
May your holiday season be full of hope and peace and joy.
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