High School students experience total cultural
immersion in remote Laotian village
International High School students participated in a truly unique Service Learning and Global Travel trip in February 2015. Accompanied by Director of Travel Pro- grams Raquel Constenla and Math Teacher Nathan Bridge, ten students traveled to Northern Laos to construct a clay eco-bungalow in Ban Nong Khuay, a village of ethnic minorities just south of the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang.
After arriving in Luang Prabang, the students trekked through the Laotian jungle to
reach the village in which they experienced complete cultural immersion. Hosted by
local families, the students lived and ate like the villagers and relinquished certain first-world amenities, such as indoor plumbing. There was no sugarcoating the experience—
they completely soaked in the lifestyle and culture. What the families had for lunch, the
students had for lunch. How and when the families slept, they did, too.
At the work site, students learned about the clay building process and immediately
rolled up their sleeves to begin their work in earnest. With their hands, they mixed
clay to build brick that would eventually become a tourist destination and a source of
income for this small, remote village.
Like other villages in the area, the people of Ban Nong Khuay have long made their
living from agriculture; but without basic infrastructure, the locals also see a need for
alternative income, such as that generated through small-scale and sustainable tourism.
Inspired by the Tea House Trek in Nepal, clay bungalows are being built along a trail