Novice Bounyang

A dream of higher education..

Novice Bounyang Novice Bounyang is now 18 and in his last year of school at the High School in Luang Prabang. His life has followed the same path as most of the novices studying here. He grew up in a small village, Ban Kok Nang in the north of Laos, the only son with 4 sisters in a family of rice farmers. (Ban Kok Nang is named after a mermaid who according to legend lived in a whirlpool there.)

His village had a primary school (5 years) so he was able to live at home but then needed to move 3 hours upriver by boat to a larger village, Ban Nam Nga and live with a cousin to study at a regional Junior High. Only the most motivated are able to make such a decision; they must leave home at an early age and their families must be able to survive wtihout their labor. (The name Ban Nam Nga means Village where the water comes from a cave that resembles an elephant tusk.)

Ban Nam Nga

Women preparing corn Women preparing cotton

After 3 years he again needed to move to a larger town with a High School so he became a Buddhist novice monk and moved to Luang Prabang. Here he started to study English and discovered the Listening Library. He is a regular, and comes almost every day. He is an extremely diligent student, 6th in his class, and his English has improved rapidly. He used the reading room and the computers to study typing and Microsoft Word and then this year he discovered photography...

man repairing fishing net Mending a Fishing Net:
This is one of the pictures that Novice Bounyang entered into an online photo contest.

Bounyang making a new drum Bounyang making a new drum:
To see his other pictures click here and type in "Bounyang." Also look for our other entrants; Chaoyang, Sengthanou, Vatthana, Soua, Touy, Chanpheng, Na, Khamseng, Tha thao.

Bounyang artwork 2 prepared in Photoshopand he discovered Adobe Photoshop....
Because his computer skills are among the best in the library he can now use the new computer for advanced users and is studying video and special effects but also uses the computer for everyday things like typing documents, making and printing his class schedule or typing email and saving it to disk to limit his online computer time. Even though he is developing skills in the digital world, he still maintains his interest in the Dharma--the teachings of Buddha.

Novice Bounyang artwork made in Photoshop


His dream is to continue to study at college or University, but that will require help. Even if he leaves the temple and gets a job using his English skills it wll be almost impossible to earn enough to support himself and pay tuition (tuitions range from $75 per year to $200 per year.) Like many novices or students here, he hopes to meet a foreigner who will recognize his determination and drive and help sponsor his continued education.

Update: Where is he now?

Bounyang's dream of higher education has recently come true. He has an American sponsor and now studies in his first year at Lao American University, the first private University in Laos, in their 5 year BA program. He has left the temple and lives with friends in Vientiane.

If you would like to contact Novice Bounyang you can email him at: