Language is the pathway that leads you to experience and understand more diversity of culture
Today is International Mother Language Day, a day to celebrate and protect all the languages of the world.
Did you know that Laos is a multilingual country with over 80 recorded languages? Aside from the official, national language of “Lao”, other common languages are “Khmu” and “Hmong”
This #MotherLanguageDay meet #LaosAustraliaNationalScholarship Alumni, Mr Somvang Vongyachit.
Somvang is a member of the Khmou ethnic group from Bokeo, Northern Laos. His ‘mother language’ is Khmu. Somvang believes in the importance of language and why it should be preserved from the old to the new generation.
“When an ethnic language is lost, part of that culture also lost. When a language is preserved, the traditions and customs continue living in the hearts and minds of those who understand it. Language is more than the sum of its parts, it’s not just sentence-structure and grammar for using in official, language is history and discourse, customs and heritage”
After completing high school, Somvang became determined to further his studies to be able to work as an English teacher. As a teacher, he could share his love for language and culture.
“When people ask me, why I decided to be an English teacher? I answer that I am passionate to be a teacher for helping children in my school community who lack knowledge about the world. I want to raise awareness to young students to know that language is very important for learning and teaching in school. I have seen that schools in remote areas often lack resources for language training – increasing the number of English teachers is a problem that should be solved.”
Somvang was able to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher with the help of the Laos Australia National Scholarships – a program designed to support underprivileged young men and women from rural districts of Laos to study at an accredited Lao University.
The scholarship helped Somvang to complete an undergraduate degree in Teaching at Souphanouvong University in Luang Prabang. Today Somvang is a young leader in his community, working as a field officer for community development in his hometown.
Congratulations Somvang, you have a bright future ahead of you!