PASSPORT Preview: Meet Jua Yangsansai, PoP’s Programs Manager in Laos

Pencils of Promise
May 16, 2018

Jua’s role as Programs Manager focuses on ensuring that the development and implementation of both Teacher Support and WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) are truly having a positive impact on our students, and transforming the education experience in our partner communities.

Jua grew up in Long Lan — the community you’re helping to support through PASSPORT. We asked him a few questions to learn more about how PoP’s partnership with Long Lan has impacted the community and to know more about what it’s like as someone who is now giving back to his community in such a unique and impactful way.

What was it like to grow up in Long Lan?
Long Lan is a beautiful place surrounded by the mountains and fresh air all of the time, and full of friendly and warm people. Most of the population in the community are farmers who work about two to three hours away from home. This means that the parents are super busy and don’t have time to focus on their children’s education, especially at pre and primary levels. Growing up, the low quality of education was a result of teachers lacking both experience and motivation, a lack of relevance to local needs of curricula and learning materials, and of course, a lack of proper facilities. All of these things combined has caused a deep problem for Long Lan, as a population of ethnic minorities, for a long time. I was very lucky growing up as I was able to move downtown when I was six years old, allowing me to live a higher quality life, being able to study and focus more on my education compared to my friends who still lived in Long Lan. But, now that Long Lan has Pencils of Promise programming, things are changing there.

How does it feel to visit Long Lan now as an employee of Pencils of Promise giving back to your community?
When I visit, I get to see that the children now have a better place to study, to learn and to grow. The kids have access to WASH and have the opportunity to increase their literacy rates. This all makes me so proud because I can see this opportunity growing through kids being able to further their studies — and this is all because of the support of all of us.

How has Long Lan changed since Pencils of Promise partnered with the community?
Kids and teachers now have access to a high-quality education. Parents don’t have to worry as much about their kids learning in school, like they did when I was growing up. Even though they still live busy lives as farmers, they know that Pencils of Promise, in partnership with the Lao government, is supporting their children.

What is your role at Pencils of Promise?
I am the Laos Programs Manager for PoP. I work closely with our Country Directors, and the government, on the planning and implementation of Teacher Support & WASH. I also facilitate and train programs staff on how to conduct activities throughout our partner communities.

How do you interact with the Long Lan community now?
I am a quiet person and this means that I don’t want to overstep my boundaries, specifically with the people I know closely, like my family still living in Long Lan. I am a proud supporter of my team and staff at Pencils of Promise and lead them to do their jobs in the field confidently. This means that my communication with the community now, in this sense, isn’t frequent.

Is there any other information that you’d like to share about the community and your role at PoP now?
As the Programs Manager, my hope is to work more closely with the Lao government on providing Teacher Support in Lao Languages in order for students to have support in the country’s official language, and become fluent. I would like to conduct community meetings to make sure that parents are supporting their kids and tracking their kids’ learning in order to ensure that they are confident and ready to further pursue their studies beyond the small community of Long Lan.

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