Two days in and life is good for the CBT team in Lao Chai. Or TLC as we like to refer ourselves as (#dontgochasingwaterfalls). Ms. Mai has been a gracious host for the team, cooking us fantastic meals, putting up with all of our belongings spread around the house, and serving us culturally acceptable glasses of rice wine.
Yesterday I ran a workshop with the homestay operators that discussed the village map that Taryn (CapU Tourism alumni) and the locals created on the previous trip. This created a great conversation between the homestay owners and the potential it would have for tour operators, hotels, tour guides and other villages. Everyone got involved including some of the men, who had previously been more reserved within the group.
Even Ms. Dee from the homestay up in the hills, came down to engage in the community discussion.
Many of the homestay people are concerned the tourists will not come and until then do not know if they should complete their homes. But the conversation had to bring back the focus on the need to build the homestays and the owners' capacity to be ready for when the tourists do arrive. And in the end, we all agreed that with a little hard work the tourist will come.
One of the key moments of this workshop was educating the operators on basic English so they can host guests. The Hmong people are incredible learners when it comes to languages and were picking it up right away. Tonight we are meeting again at 7:00 PM to run a second language class to build their English vocabulary - some of them are planning to learn how to write.
Overall it was a great day, everyone is killing it and having a stellar time!
Good night from Lao Chai, and good morning to Vancouver.