Tag Archives: quiz night

Literacy is Fun!

Seven months ago, my friend Alex and I fundraised and hosted a trivia night to benefit the local Lao literacy organization, Big Brother Mouse.  In the months that have followed, the $3000 that we earned, thanks to so many generous friends and family and Vientiane residents, has been making a difference behind the scenes.

In September and October, part of our donation funded two book parties in Luang Prabang province.  At book parties, Big Brother Mouse staff trek out to villages, many of which have seen few, if any non-textbook literature, and teach the children about reading for pleasure through reading, writing, art, and other creative and educational activities.  After the events are over the organization leaves each child a book, often the first he or she has ever owned, and sets up a “mini-library” in the village.  Neither Alex nor I were able to attend our parties–he’s crossed the ocean back to grad school in the States (and is now a blog reader), and I was busy with Term 4 in Vientiane.  Big Brother Mouse was kind enough to send photos so we could vicariously join in.

The first party was on September 28th at Ban Somsanouk, in Pac Ou district (about an hour north from Luang Prabang).

The second was October 5th at Ban Nala (also in Luang Prabang province).

This past week, the last part of our donation arrived in the mail–copies of the two newly-published books we sponsored, hot off the presses: Dinosaurs and Polar Bear Goes to Laos.  Both of these kid-sized and colorful books will be available at the Big Brother Mouse shops in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, as well as anywhere else Big Brother Mouse books are sold (including, but not limited to, the night markets in both cities, and Monument Books).  The smaller book, Polar Bear Goes to Laos (Mi Khao Tiao Lao), has been particularly fun for me to read.  It is a simple phonics book, written all in Lao, to help teach the Lao alphabet and its sounds to children, by using funny rhymes (think Dr. Seuss).  Since I too, am learning the Lao language, I find the simple rhymes and illustrations a great way to build my vocabulary and practice pronunciation.  Below, one of my favorite pages:

Mi kin mi…mi wao wa “mi mi ni di eely!”
That rough transliteration (the way things are often officially transliterated, the way I would do it based on how it’s pronounced and the actual phonetics of the English alphabet, and the way that people transliterate Lao day to day in “karaoke text” for messaging and Facebook are usually not the same) says: The bear eats noodles…the bear says “there are noodles here that are really good!”  But how much more fun does that sound in Lao, when it rhymes?!



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Trivia Night for Lao Literacy Project


Remember these?

On August 6th, a total 0f 16 teams, composed of 80 foreigners living and working in Vientiane, descended on Vientiane College to take part in our trivia night fundraiser for Big Brother Mouse.  The eight rounds of trivia questions (designed by myself and Alex) tested their knowledge across a diverse range of subjects, ranging from “Wonders of the World,” to “Children’s Literature,” to “Religion,” among others.  Perhaps the most popular and unusual round was the “Five Senses,” in which participants guessed herbs by smelling them, identified musical instruments based on short audio clips, and attempted to distinguish Asian beers by taste.

Leading up to the event, we were incredibly busy with preparations: we made posters and plastered the city with them, wrote questions, solicited raffle prizes, and registered guests.  But in the end, all of the work we did was completely worth it–and honestly a lot of fun.  It was an opportunity to revisit favorite shops from the past year for donations, and to reach out to all of the contacts we have here in Vientiane in hopes of filling the house with guests.  But we certainly didn’t do it all alone–Vientiane College staff and administrators made it all possible by donating the space and manning the bar.  Our friend and coworker Sam played the part of the no-nonsense grading mistress, who helped us tabulate the results and select the winners.  Sasha, a co-founder and advisor of Big Brother Mouse, came down from Luang Prabang and was able to give a brief presentation to the attendees about all of the work they do.

And last, but certainly, certainly not least, the generosity of our friends and families who donated online, and our friends, coworkers, and fellow expats here in Vientiane who attended the event enabled it to be so incredibly successful.  So many businesses in Vientiane, many of them among our favorite shops generously donated prizes for the raffle, which generated a lot of money and excitement.

Full house at trivia night.

The event was a great success–between online donations from friends and family, entry ticket sales, raffle ticket sales, and drinks, we raised a total of $3255 for Big Brother Mouse, which far exceeded our goal of $2000.  Though this may not sound like a lot in the States, three thousand dollars goes far in Laos, especially for an organization like Big Brother Mouse.  We chose to sponsor the publication of two books: Dinosaurs! (those who know me well will appreciate my particular excitement in getting to sponsor a dino-related kids book) and Polar Bear Goes to Laos (Mi Khao Tiao Lao), which is a Lao-language nonsense rhyme book (think Dr. Seuss in Lao).  In addition, we are sponsoring two book parties in rural villages, where mini-libraries will be set up, and children will learn how to read books, play educational games, and receive their own book (for some, the first they’ve ever owned).
Since childhood, I’ve been an avid reader and creator of stories.  I can’t imagine growing up without a love of books, and without the creativity that reading instilled in me.  This experience is much less common for children here, something I’ve noticed even among my students, most of whom are very privileged in comparison to the children in the villages where the book parties will be held.  There is not a lot of exciting and interesting reading material available in Laos, and as a result many children don’t grow up seeing reading as something that can be entertaining.

There are so many organizations trying to help Laos, as a developing country.  Many of them are doing great work for the environment and sustainability, for healthcare, and so many other sectors, and without an extensive knowledge of the NGO world, I can’t really be the judge of who is doing the best job.  From a teacher’s perspective, and simply as a lover of reading, art, and all things creative, Big Brother Mouse, and other similar organizations, are particularly critical to development here because they are bringing literacy–and all of the subsequent doors reading can open, from language and thinking skills, to artistic inclinations, to greater knowledge about the world, to sheer pleasure–to the next generation.


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Trivia Night: Final Countdown

The Trivia Night fundraiser for Big Brother Mouse is this weekend–only a few days away–and all of the pieces are falling into place.  Expect an absence of posts in the next few days…but a full update on the event, and on last month’s trip to Cambodia, will be up next week.  Our fundraising efforts have been incredibly successful so far, and I can’t wait to see how it goes.  If you’d still like to contribute, you have until Saturday.  Many, many thanks to all of my friends and family who have donated already–the results will be posted soon!

Poster design by A. Godfrey, 2011.

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Reminder: Big Brother Mouse Quiz Night

The much-anticipated trivia night for Big Brother Mouse is only 8 days away!  I’ve still got a lot of work to do to prepare–mostly getting people to register at this point–but am still very excited.  Don’t forget to email me to sign up if you’re in Vientiane…it’s going to be a fun night you don’t want to miss.  And if you’re far away, as many of you are, please don’t forget that you can still help out.  Thanks to all who have donated already.

Poster design by A. Godfrey, 2011.

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Big Brother Mouse Trivia Night

I’m back from my travel, and looking forward to sharing stories and photos–from the jungles of Luang Prabang, to the kingdom of Angkor, and beyond–very soon.

But in the meantime, I’d like to announce an exciting project that my friend and coworker Alex and I have been planning for the past few weeks.  On August 6th, we’ll be hosting a Trivia Night at Vientiane College to benefit the local organization Big Brother Mouse.  Alex and I first became acquainted with the organization on trips to the northern city of Luang Prabang, where it is based. Big Brother Mouse describes itself as a “literacy project.” In rural villages all over the country, people have very little access to books, and, as a result, children often do not develop an interest in reading, nor do they develop the skills to become proficient readers. Big Brother Mouse finds local writers and artists to publish simple, bilingual (Lao-English) books that can then be distributed in villages, as well as some international literature and creative Lao-only children’s books.

Poster design by A. Godfrey, 2011.

Trivia nights are quite popular within the ex-pat community here in Vientiane, and past events have been quite successful in raising money for local charities (as well as lots of fun, to which I can personally attest).  Our goal is to raise $2000 to publish a new book and sponsor a book party and mini-library in a rural village.  

We promise our event to be a little different, and have some excellent questions and prizes in store for everyone who comes.  If you’re in Vientiane, please register!  If not, you can still help out as well.  Check out the Trivia Night page to read more about our inspiration for the event, or to click to donate.  Every dollar will get us closer to our goal.

Stay tuned for news from my travels as well as trivia night updates as the event quickly approaches!

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