SAIL Blog – by Tacerrah Keokhamdy-Saechao
Never would I have thought that being in a five-week program studying abroad in Laos would I learn so much about who I am and where my family comes from. Before going to Laos, I didn’t know much about my culture aside from what my grandparents have told me. I wasn’t able to understand conversations or speak full on sentences. When I first heard about the SAIL program, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about my background. When the group and I settled into our rooms at the Sengphachanh Hotel 2 in Vientiane, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that I was in a different country. Everything was so different compared to things back home in Redding. As I look around me, I’m in a whole new world. At least that’s what it felt like to me. My first “taxi” ride was nothing like I imagined. We rode a tuk tuk, and that was something different. A good different. I loved riding the tuk tuk and pass the Patuxay building almost every time we go into town. The Patuxay building was just so beautiful at night.
The people there are so friendly, and so welcoming, and I wasn’t used to that. Once school started, I was ready to learn. My teacher, or as we call him, “Achaan” would teach our language class every day and I was always looking forward to his lessons. Because of him, and the time he spent with each and every one of us, I am able to communicate better. I can even read and write in the Lao language! Who would have thought I could do all of that in just five weeks? I always used my time in Laos very wisely, and would take every opportunity I could get to learn more. I always tried communicating with the hotel staff, and the locals too. It was an experience I will never forget. I’ve built special friendships with the locals there and I hope to remain in touch with each and every one of them on social media!
One highlight that I will always remember from this trip was being able to sing on stage alongside my favorite local singer, Tanu! I was thrilled and nervous too, but singing on stage with him was the best decision I’ve made because that will always be a night I will never forget! There’s so much to say about my time in Laos that I could go on forever about. I do plan on visiting Laos again sometime in the future, possibly moving there for a few years even. If there were one thing I’ve taken from this trip, it would be a new perspective on life. I’ve learned about my culture and my language, and I plan on using what I know to give back to the Lao community and to help others learn about Lao culture. Laos was a wonderful experience and I will always treasure the times I had and the memories I made there.