The first ever International Conference on Lao Studies will take place on May 20-22, 2005 in Dekalb, Illinois, under the overall theme of promoting and developing Lao studies.
In an exclusive interview with VOA, Mr. Vinya Sysamouth, a member of the organizing committee, says the conference will be hosted jointly by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Northern Illinois University and the Lao-American community in Richmond, California.
He says the main objective of the conference is to provide an international forum for scholars to present and discuss various aspects of Lao studies such as the studies concerning all ethnolinguistic groups of Laos, the Isan Lao and and other ethnic Lao groups in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Burma, Combodia, and overseas Laotians.
Mr. Sysamouth says he expects more than 200 scholars and other participants from 16 different countries will attend the conference.
He adds that he hopes the first conference will lead to more international forums on Lao studies.