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From the Village to the World

Ms Phaynalin Toummala received a LANS award in 2011 and has now completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the National University of Laos. “LANS not only gave me an opportunity to further my study, it made my life better and to be a better person,” she said.

Phaynalin comes from Hamtai Village, in Xamneu District, Hauphan province. She is the youngest of seven children.  Her father is a rice farmer, and also grows vegetables and raises frogs, while her mother weaves for a living.  Phaynalin’s oldest brother had to drop out of school to help their parents with farming so the younger children could stay at school.

But getting to school was not always easy.  “We don’t have an Upper High School near our village. Our house is about 16 km away from a school in the town, therefore, my older siblings all left home to study with support from our parents and relatives living in the town,” she said.

Phaynalin helped around the house from a young age, including selling vegetables with her father and learning how to weave with her mother.  “I wanted to help my parents because I saw them working so hard to send all my brothers and sisters to schools.” Phaynalin explained. “My parents were very supportive with their children’s education even though they did not have much money.”

After finishing high school, Phaynalin sat for the Entrance Examination at the National University of Laos. “I knew that I would have a chance to study at the university because of the hard work of my parents and the support of my older brothers and sisters, even though it would be tough. The LANS scholarship helped reduce those financial burdens. I think LANS also gave me opportunities that many students do not have - to study life skills and to better understand the social environment around me.”

“LANS also allowed me to study English. My English is now good enough that I won a scholarship to attend the Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth, which took place in Japan in October 2014. This trip really broadened my knowledge and ideas,” said Phaynalin enthusiastically.

Phaynalin has an interest in trade that started with her family’s business, and a desire to travel from her experience in Japan.  With her Bachelor of Commerce degree she is ready to take these skills to a new level.  Her ambition is to work in Laos for a few years and then she try for further study, maybe in Australia.