University of Oregon

Sustainable Agriculture in Vang Vieng

Program Overview

Eighty percent of the labor force in Laos and half of the country's GDP are tied to agriculture. The effect of agriculture on the environment is substantial. Slash-and-burn farming has significantly contributed to forest destruction, and intensive farming has led to widespread soil erosion. Forests, which not long ago covered 70 percent of Laos, now cover just 40 percent.

The government recognizes the link between economic growth, food security and natural resource management, and its poverty alleviation initiatives encourage more careful land use. However, responsible agriculture practices are rare in Vang Vieng. The project works with an organic farm that is a testing ground for sustainable agriculture, and whose products are then sold to support educational initiatives.

Program Description:

  • Work three (3) to six (6) hours a day assisting at an organic garden with local staff- depending on weather conditions; if the weather is too hot and/or wet interns work less.
  • The organic garden is a place where all kinds of native vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruits are grown.
  • This garden is created as an income generating activity to attract tourism and serve as a model to the community of productive and environmentally responsible agriculture.
  • Interns help on all facets of the gardening process:
    • clearing the fields
    • getting land ready for cultivation
    • seeding and harvesting
  • When the need arises, interns are also involved in side projects:
    • building fences
    • maintaining trails
    •  working on irrigation
    • devising plans for future crops
  • Interns may sometimes be involved in helping on local social renovation projects.


  • Eager to contribute.
  • The health and physical capability to do manual work in a tropical climate with few amenities.
  • The flexibility to participate in many different tasks depending on the season and ever-changing needs of the farm project.
  • The creativity and initiative to work in an environment with limited resources.


  • It is each intern's role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes an international internship so special.

This internship is self-directed. Participants must be able to work independently and contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities you were not expecting to work in.

This service learning internship opportunity is made possible through a partnership with UBELONG, the world's leading social organization for high-impact volunteering and learning opportunities abroad. UBELONG's mission is to bring people together across borders to share their humanity and take action for positive change.

Internship Details

Students must intern for a minimum of 30 hours per week, for a total of at least 240 hours for an 8-week internship.  This will earn 8 internship credits.

In addition to 8 internship credits, students will enroll in a 1-4 credit Intercultural Communication online course.  This course is designed to provide ongoing support to students who do internships abroad.  Students will observe, explore and investigate the core cultural values in their host country during the service learning internship, conduct comparison in the differences between their host and home country, and develop critical thinking skills and culture learning strategies. Some of the topics discussed in this course include: attitudes toward time, space, age, gender and authority, different views on self/others, conflict styles and culture shock. 

A weekly assignment for the online course includes: reading assignments, group discussions and/or a weekly journal.  The number of enrolled credits will determine the course workload.  It will begin one week before your internship begins and end one week after completion.

Eligible applicants will be considered automatically for a Freeman Fellowship for up to $6,000 in funding toward internships in East and Southeast Asia.

Housing Description

The Intern House is part of a lively hostel located in the city center near restaurants and shops. Staff is available 24/7 at the house to assist interns with any needs. Interns generally share a room with one to three other interns.

Additional Requirements

Prior to arrival, participants must provide a police background check.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.