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Katherine Ippolito


  • To provide educational opportunities to all students in the community, regardless of socio-economic status, ethnicity and gender
  • To increase access to English education
  • Improve students’ English language ability

Recently, one of GVI Laos’ Novice students, Novice Sengdao, was interviewed by a committee for a scholarship with United World College. United World College is a two-year college program, which prepares students to enter a four-year degree at a University abroad. Students choose from a plethora of different subjects all geared towards their future field of study. In preparation for his interview, a group of dedicated volunteers and staff came together to give him practice interviews and tips. Utilizing the unique skill sets volunteers had bought to the project at the perfect time, GVI Laos was able to offer private tuition to Novice Sengdao with a volunteer who gives interviews by profession, and another who had just finished a round of university interviews herself. Together with GVI Laos’ Education Coordinator Sue Williams, the volunteers offered Novice Sengdao a combination of insight, advice, scenario practice and constructive feedback, which he used to further prepare for his interview.

Novice Sengdao has been studying with GVI for 2 years, and is in GVI Laos’ highest level English class where he has been preparing for college interviews and scholarship essays for nearly a year. In November, when President Barack Obama came to visit Laos, Novice Sengdao was interviewed by a journalist from the Washington Post about his emotions surrounding this historic event. In March this year, he received a personal letter from the former president in regards to the interview and a second article was published about on the Washington Post website. Novice Sengdao is also a student at the local Monk High School, where most of the Novices in Luang Prabang study a variety of academic subjects. But for this young Novice, his upcoming graduation comes with an exciting new adventure ahead!

After weeks of preparation and practice, the time came for the big interview. He travelled several hours by bus from Luang Prabang to Vientiane to take the interview alongside many other applicants. Novice Sengdao was selected in the top ten, of which 2 would be given scholarships as well as placement at a UWC. A week later, GVI Laos staff were happily informed by Novice Sengdao that he had been accepted into the program with a scholarship to Singapore! One of Novice Sengdao’s dreams is to have the opportunity to study in the United States, and this scholarship is certainly a step in the right direction. Congratulations Novice Sengdao, GVI Laos is bursting with happiness and pride at this wonderful accomplishment and look forward to seeing where the future takes you!

Read Novice Sengdao’s Washington Post interview here:

And the follow up article here:




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