SAN FRANCISCO (June 8, 2010) – The Center for Lao Studies announces its second annual Summer Study Abroad in Laos (SAIL) program, scheduled for June 15, 2010 to August 10, 2010 through the partnership with the Lao-American College, the first private college owned and run by an American in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The four SAIL students or SAILers will depart for their eight-week trip to Laos this week.
The Lao American SAILers are the second generation of refugees that resettled in the United States since the late 1970’s as a result of the Indochina Conflict (Vietnam War). Most of them grew up knowing very little about the country of their parents and grandparents and have the desire to reconnect with their roots.
The SAIL program is able to offer them the opportunity with the rare insight to gain a better understanding of their identity as a Lao person living in America.
“I have always felt like a fish out of water living here in the Midwest where I was always the minority and finding a Lao friend meant turning to my older sister,” states Toby Malavong of Clinton, Iowa and one of 2010’s SAILers. “There is so much about me I still need to learn. Through SAIL immersion program, I will not only be able to advance my language competencies, but I will gain deeper understanding of the culture and history of Laos.”
The SAIL program is part of the Center for Lao Studies’ vision to be an institution that leads and excels in the pursuit of knowledge in the field of Lao Studies.
“This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience Laos through language classes, country-specific courses, cultural exposure trips, and volunteering,” explains Dr. Vinya Sysamouth, executive director, Center for Lao Studies.
The SAIL program is open to undergraduate and graduate students, educators, and education administrators as well as those interested in Lao, Lao American, Southeast Asian, and Asian cultures and society.
Yaengsaeng Xayavong, a 2009 SAIL alumna who blogged about her experience at www.laostudies.org/sailersblog, adds, “This experience is definitely one that I will never forget. Everything from going to classes, meeting new friends, exploring the city and visiting my family in the village where I was born have been journeys filled with learning and excitement. The emotions that I have felt while I was here have been only good ones and not enough words can describe the happiness that I have found here.”
Center for Lao Studies is a non-profit organization established in 2006 with a mission to advance knowledge and engagement in the field of Lao Studies through research, education and information sharing. For more information visit www.laostudies.org.