The Cultural Study Group (CSG) meets most months upstairs at Monument Books. The evening presentations are generally held on the third or fourth Tuesday of the month. Sometimes there are two in the course of a month, in which case the evenings are spaced out accordingly. The time is from 5:45 pm to 8:00 pm, to enable as many people as possible to attend. The format is basically the same each time: the organisers introduce the speaker who presents on his or her topic and this is followed by discussion time and notices of upcoming presentations.
The main presentation lasts about one hour and then there is time for questions and answers and sometimes a lively discussion. To get an idea of the range of topics and presenters take a look at the list of presentations to date. The common theme is Lao culture and society and issues relevant to life in the Lao PDR; in addition there is a wide range of presentation styles and techniques. On a couple of occasions the speaker has encouraged a significant amount of audience participation throughout the presentation. The group is now a well-established entity on the Vientiane and indeed the Lao cultural scene. From the start, the evenings have always been well-attended and recent presentations have attracted an audience of between 60 and over 80. Details of upcoming presentations are advertised in WIG world, on posters around town and sent out as emails.
The common theme is Lao culture and society and issues relevant to life in the Lao PDR.
The group was the brainchild of Biliana Vassilieva, a former President of WIG, who started it in May 2007. She saw a need for some regular events that would encourage people to learn about and appreciate Lao culture â€“ the third aim of WIG. For the first two years it was very much her baby. She had the support of other WIG friends and EXCOMM members on the evenings, but the considerable work of finding and vetting potential speakers and contributors, not to mention working with them to plan their presentations as well as publicising the event was something she did single-handedly. It started out as a monthly event, but from the second year there were sometimes two CSG presentations in a month. Biliana left Laos in June 2009. Since September 2009, following a handover period of a couple of months, Geraldine Huet and Ruth Foster have shared responsibility for organising and presiding over the evenings.
Some of the presenters come forward themselves with suggestions for topics, but more often the organisers contact individuals and organisations that they think might give interesting and relevant presentations. They are very glad to receive leads and suggestions from WIG members and others. Sometimes the talks are on Development or Environment themes as well as Social and Cultural matters. The hallmark of the CSG is the variety of the subjects, but there is always a focus on Laos.
…the CSG represents an opportunity for local experts to share their knowledge and passion
In addition to welcoming internationally recognised experts, the CSG represents an opportunity for local experts to share their knowledge and passion with an interested audience. While there have been more “falang” presenters to date, the organisers have always tried to have as many Lao presenters as possible and are continually on the look-out for people ready to share their knowledge and insights into their own country in English with a mixed Lao and international audience.
The CSG evenings provide a unique opportunity to learn about Laos and to meet and mingle with a wide range of residents of the Lao PDR and fellow enthusiasts. The charge is 20,000 kip for members and 30,000 kip for non-members and the proceeds go to WIG welfare projects. We hope to welcome many more of you to these stimulating and enjoyable evenings.