The Center for Lao Studies has launched the first U.S.-based study abroad program in Laos. Organizers of the Summer Study Abroad in Laos (SAIL) program are looking for Lao American students and others interested in visiting the Lao-American College in Vientiane, Laos. They will experience cultural immersion through travel, language lessons, country-specific course offerings, and volunteer opportunities.
Lao Americans will now get the chance to learn about the southeastern country, one that faced violence and upheaval during the 1970s and 1980s. Many of these are refugees who, like their neighbors in Cambodia and Vietnam, fled their country when the civil war broke out and new regimes took control.
Dr. Vinya Sysamouth, a Lao American who came to the U.S. at the age of 10, knows the frustrations and cultural assimilation of the Lao community over the past 30 years. As the executive director of the Center for Lao Studies, Sysamouth sees the program as one way to bridge the bicultural gap. “The SAIL program aims to educate Lao Americans about Lao history and culture through eight weeks of cultural, volunteer, and academic immersion.
Many families don’t have the time or money to take their families to Laos, so we’ve provided a structured, safe, and instructive venue through which participants can visit their homeland, learn the language, understand their parents better, and create new memories for themselves.” (end)
For more information about the Center for Lao Studies and to apply for this program, visit www.laostudies.org.