Friday, 21 January 2011

Training, round 1

IrishAid training - all the gang and our two trainers
First lot of training is now done and dusted (4 days in Dublin) and round two is fast approaching (3 days in Bonn).   The reality of heading away is starting to dawn on me and this initial preparation was really useful.  It was great meeting and getting to know the other IrishAid UNV (United Nations Volunteers - the scheme we're going with) people. There are 14 of us all together, spread out amongst 11 different developing countries across the globe.  I also had the chance to meet two girls who have recently returned from working with the UN in Laos, one of whom worked in a similar role to mine in UNICEF (Child Rights).   Their stories were amazing and I now have a list as long as my arm of places to visit, festivals to attend and organisations to look up when I arrive in Vientiane.  

I've got just over two weeks left in Europe before I head off to Vientiane on the 7th of February via what is arguably the longest route possible (Belfast-London-Frankfurt-Bangkok-Vientiane) - thank goodness for airmiles....!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

What's in a name?

A common road sign maybe?
Brief explanation of the name of the blog (pretentious, moi...?!):

The official name of the country where I'm going is   "Lao People's Democratic Republic", or Lao PDR for short, but it's mainly known abroad as "Laos" (and often pronounced with the "s").   Wikipedia (the fount of all knowledge) reliably informs me this is because the French added the final consonant to signify their unification of the multiple Lao kingdoms of French Indochina in 1893 - good pub quiz knowledge if nothing else!  

History lessons aside, back in the day between the 14th and 18th centuries the region was known as the kingdom of Lan Xang - the Land of a Million Elephants - and hence the blog title.   Hopefully Laos will live up to its namesake and I'll get to see at least a few.....

Laos in a year

In February 2011 I will be leaving the U.K and heading far, far away to South East Asia for one year.   A few months ago I was lucky enough to get offered a one-year placement with UNICEF in Vientiane - capital of Lao PDR.   It's organised and sponsored by the lovely people at IrishAid (Irish Government Department for International Development) and organised by the United Nations Volunteers scheme.

I will spend the year working on Child Rights Policy in the UNICEF office, but am also hoping to get a real insight into life in Laos and the work of UNICEF.

Laos is a landlocked country in S.E Asia - surrounded on all sides by Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and China - hopefully all future travel destinations!  

Anyway, swing by this blog for photos and updates every so often and do keep in touch.  I have training in Dublin and Germany over the next 10 days and then will be leaving Belfast on the 7th of February.   But before all that, a crazy weekend of furious packing up my London room....