Pete and I had the great privilege to spend a lot of our time with Sith. Pete had met Sith on his last visit to Luang Prabang, as Sith worked the front desk of the hotel Pete stayed in at the time. Sith took us to a few sights in the city, and hung out with us for a good portion of our stay.
Sith story is so much like most young people in Laos. He comes from a large and poor family, raised in a small village which is a long bus ride away from Luang Prabang. He’s studying at university and working full time, seven days a week to pay for his schooling. He works everyday so he has a place to sleep. While Sith studies IT and has three scholarships, some of the other young men we met (significant because the young women don’t seem to be able to break out of the cycle as much as the boys) study to be a teacher or English teacher.
What was inspiring about meeting the youth of this city is that they have a vision for their future. This is something that many in Vietnam do not have. One young man, Sai, said that he wants to return to his village after he completes his education because he wants to see his village progress and wants a better future for his family and community. In a situation which is pretty desperate, that selflessness is tremendously admirable. And humbling.
Sith might be the one who is in school right now, but in the course of six days we spent with him, I learned a lot more about life than any school could teach.