Who are we?

Mr. Claus


German born (1965) Mr. "Galau", as the Lao articulate it, is not a certified ESL Teacher. I studied Drama at the University of Frankfurt/Main and I've worked my way through five different German theatres as an actor. Thus was I determined to do with the rest of my life, when I left my distraught parents in "Meschede in Westphalen" - the very backwater settlement in Central Germany where I was born and bred. What I got was a smooth middle class stage career with ups and downs, even highlights - never fruitless and never scratching the edge of fame. Good enough to go on until the end of my days - or to "exit the scene" after 15 years - and never to regret it. "The theatre won't let you go - ever!" head of 'das Theatererlangen' Frau Dhein had solemnly said when I made it for a sabbatical year to Laos: "Not you! You are an actor..." And there's nothing much to be added to this: "I am an actor..."

And then Mr. Khamngeun (another man with an unpronounceable name), head of the Provincial Luang Prabang Traffic Police, had decided it would be rather useful for him to know his share of English - and I had an assignment! He and his staff became my first students - and many others followed. "Mr. Galau" on the backseat of a motorbike with a uniformed driver was a well-established image in those days: "Did they arrest him?"- "No, they didn't arrest him - he teaches them English..." - "He does what???" - "He teaches them English!" - "I can't believe it!"

"Your bribes are education..." my friend and Laos veteran Ruth had laughingly said. "No one's ever done that before..."

"Is this somewhat similar to an English language class?" I asked highly respected librarian Carol Kresge, who I had beseeched to attend the "Claus Haumer-teaches-English"-Show in Mr. Khamngeuns's dining room.
"What else should it be?" she said.
"But is it right that I do it?"
"No one else does it..."
"Well then ...", I came to think, "No one else does it..."

Ajahn (Teacher)

And then UNDP set up an 8 month English Language course for Luang Prabang government officials. Three guys had applied for the job - two of them were qualified ESL teachers! - and UNDP had decided it would be me. Only God knows what drove them... "A natural born teacher!" Ruth said - and: "Why don't you do what you do the best? Why don't you stay in Laos and start your own English school?" Ooops... to have the idea was one thing! But to obtain a licence for a private language school in a country like Laos was another kettle of fish - and in particular for a 'falang', as the Lao call foreigners: The authorities would do their best to quench the idea before the take-off... I couldn't have been more in the wrong: an English Language School run by "Mr. Claus" was the very thing they really wanted: Against all odds I got my licence in the record time of three months! It might have helped that the officials in charge were busily studying English at the building site, which would soon become the MANO ENGLISH LANGUAGE CENTRE...

But why Laos? Why Luang Prabang?

When I went on my first meditation retreat in the "new world", Venerable Pra Ajahn Plien spoke to me the rather mysterious words: "You were born in the wrong place!- You just came home! But there's a reason you were born in the wrong place: you've gained some benefits over there in good old Europe. It's high time someone gave something back to the people here..." Well, I don't know if there's anything about it: The Pra Ajahn is by far more enlightened than others I've met - and so I put up with the task he had charged me with... A couple of years later I couldn't have put it any better!- It feels right in a way:

I just came home...

Mr. Marcel


To me, coming to the MEKONG ENGLISH CENTRE was a dream come true. Ever since I first visited the region in 2001, I always had the ambition to be an English teacher in South-east Asia. Travelling around in the area, I learned about the great need for teachers, and in particular English language teachers. With this in mind I returned to my native country Holland and enrolled in an English- teaching course in order to obtain a Bachelor's degree.

During my years on the course I kept track of the many opportunities for teachers in South-east Asia. When one day I spotted a vacancy for an English teacher in Laos, and of all places, in Luang Prabang, which I remembered so well for its beauty and friendly people when passing through on my previous travels, I took a second to decide to apply for it.

I was more than surprised to receive a positive reply to my application, and after a few months of contact with Claus via e-mail, I decided on a bit of adventure, packed my bag and took off on a one-way trip to Laos.

Now, at MEC, I can elaborate on my sentiments about my move to Luang Prabang, but as this site is about the school and not me, let me just compile it in a suggestion that works wonders for me:

Follow Your Heart...

Mr. Inlaeng


I was born in Chaiyabouly, Laos.

I spent over 7 years as an English teacher in Chiang Mai, Thailand. When I came back to Laos, I planned to open an English Centre in Luang Prabang. Then I met Mr Claus Haumer who had his own English centre in Luang Prabang. After having discussed how to develop the centre we decided to establish Mekong English Centre (MEC). The students were moved from the old centre to MEC. We started with 150 students in 2010, and now we have over 350 students.

Mr Claus is the founder of curriculum and teaching approach. Mr Marcel is a model teacher and I, the centre's director, am better at the administrative side of things. We work together as a team.

Inlaeng Vongsouvanh - Director of MEC

Mr Somphanh


Sabaidee! My name is Somphanh PHATPIN. I'm from Chomphet district, Luang Prabang Province, Laos. Now I'm living in Luang Prabang town. I've been living here since 2009.

I'm a student at Teacher Training College and I am also a teacher at MEC. I studied english at MEC for 2 years and now I work here as a teacher. I like my job very much. Many people work at MEC and ever more students come to learn English with us and we really enjoy our teaching English.

Ms Neng


My name is Miss Neng THOR. I'm Hmong and I live in Laos. My family lives in a small village in the countryside.

I came to Luang Prabang in 2009 and I have been working at MEC since 2010.

Now I am an English teacher at MEC. I am very happy to teach and help students and it also helps to improve my own English.

Mr Max


I am Vanhxay but people call me Max. My family live in a small village about 7 kilometres outside Luang Prabang town. I came to town in 2007 and worked to save up some money to study. I graduated from Business Administration College and English College. In addition I took several extra English classes.

I started working at MEC in 2010 as a trainee teacher. After 6 months I completed the teacher training and started running my own classes. In 2011 I started teaching Intermediate level in addition to the Beginner classes. More recently I have helped to train new teachers and continue to support them and assist with the day to day running of MEC. I really enjoy helping people learn and meeting new people. The opportunity allows me to follow my interests and gain more experience.

Mr Khamxay


My name is Khamxay. I'm from Laos.

I came to Luang Prabang town to further educate myself. With education comes money to support my family and my village community.

I'm a teacher at MEC but, before I became a teacher at MEC, I was one of MEC's students. I was an MEC student for 2 years.

I love my job because it helps out the Lao community and the next Lao generation.

Mr Xay


My name is Xay Lee. I'm Hmong and I live with my parents in Laos.

I'm a student, but I'm also an English teacher at MEC. I teach from Mondays to Fridays. I've been working here since July 2012 and I used to be a student here too.

I really like my job, because I can have a lot of fun and get knowledge while being with students.

Mr Poryea


My name is Poryea THOR. I am Hmong and I live in Luang Prabang.

I am a student at Souphanouvong University. I also work as an English teacher at MEC. Before I became a teacher I studied at MEC for many years.

I love my job very much, because it was my dream to be an English teacher as it was my dream to study at university.

Mr Sichai


Hello, my name is Sichai Sengchanhkham. I was born in 1982; I'm Lao Leu and I was born in Ngeun District, Sayaboury Province. I finished Finance College in Luang Prabang in 2005.

There are five people in my family: my parents, two older sisters, one older brother and me. I'm already married. I have one son. His name is Lee O and he's 3 years old. Now we live in Ban Phoumock, Luang Prabang. We came to live in Luang Prabang in 2008. Before I came to Luang Prabang I worked with Photixay Thailand Company. I was an accountant at Tadsae for 2 years and after that I worked with Lasi Airticketing at Xieng Mouan village for 3 years. Today I work at the Mekong English Centre in Ban Pongkham, Luang Prabang.

Ms Bouanaem


Hello! My name is Bouanaem Sayasan and I live in Luang Prabang.

Now, I'm a student at Manivanh College, but I also work and study at MEC. I am the day-time receptionist. I love my job very much and it is my dream and life to study English!