SMILE for Students in Luang Prabang
Carrie's blog post
During my travels in SE Asia this summer Caitlin and I had the privilege of meeting Michael Sebastian, an American who has makes his home in Luang Prabang, Laos. Michael runs the SMILE project (Supporting Multitudes in Life & Education) and offers free English classes to students.
He states, "My mission is to offer FREE education, nutritional aid, and healthcare assistance to impoverished, abandoned, orphaned, and underprivileged youth, as well as young Buddhist monks and novices, all of whom lack funds and resources for
quality education and nourishment, and are desperate to learn English language and other skills in an effort to break the cycle of poverty and create economic mobility for themselves, their families, and indeed whole communities. In addition to FREE classes, I also help students attain scholarships and sponsorships through my project, allowing students to attend university, high school, and extra-curricular classes. I am committed to providing a classroom experience that activates the mind and empowers individuals to achieve their full potential, while maintaining compassion for themselves and others to create a stronger, happier, and more supportive global community."
Caitlin and I had the opportunity to meet many of Michael's students during an advanced English class in his home. These young men were incredible, working hard to learn English to better their own lives and those of their families. We were profoundly moved by meeting these students. Michael also teaches English to young women in Laos. It just happened that our visit was at night, when only the boys are able to attend.
As Americans, and expats living abroad, we have become acutely aware of just how blessed we are in our daily lives. It is our hope that through this campaign we can extend some of our privilege to these students. What is a small amount of money to us can make an incredible difference in the lives of these students.
Michael has given us this list of expenses that the students face and it offers and idea of how the money we raise might be used.
• A one-time donation of $2800 USD (equal to $700 USD per year) allows students the chance to accept their opportunity to achieve a 4-year undergraduate degree at one of the universities, colleges, or technical
schools in Luang Prabang. This amount covers tuition, fees, documents, uniforms, textbook, and school supplies.
• A one-time donation of $300 USD covers one full year of High School for one student in Luang Prabang including tuition, fees, documents, uniforms, textbooks, and school supplies.
• $125 USD per month per student (limited to 10 students) covers the cost of S.M.I.L.E. Project’s immersive English living and learning program including, but not limited to room and board, medical/dental care, food, clothing, and all the necessities for life and study while living at the S.M.I.L.E. Project house.
• $25 USD per month covers the expense of sponsoring one student to attend the S.M.I.L.E. Project Advanced English class 5 days per week.
• $15 USD per month covers the expense of sponsoring one student to attend the S.M.I.L.E. Project Beginner English class 3 days per week.
• $5-$10 USD per month covers the typical fee for a range of extra- curricular classes available around Luang Prabang in computer systems set-up, Microsoft WORD/Excel/PowerPoint, languages like Chinese/Japanese/French/Korean, and private tutoring and extra classes in math and science with expert local teachers.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read about this fundraising page and we hope you'll join us in contributing and supporting Michael's endeavors with the students of Luang Prabang. Any amount you can donate would be appreciated.
I have a video that I hope to be able to link soon.
Can you help us inspire them with our generosity? #seasonofgiving
I was able to get permission from Michael to add the video he has made. If you'd like to hear from his students directly, please check it out!
Would you consider making a donation today?
Public education in Laos is not free and most families can not afford the fees. We're $40 away from funding high school for one student FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR.
Will you help? #seasonofgiving