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YSEALI Academic Fellows
25 MINUTE READ
October 1, 2021

The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellows Program will accept applications for the YSEALI Spring 2022 cohort from Friday, October 1, through Thursday, November 18, 2021!

Overview:

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship is an intensive short-term academic program whose purpose is to provide groups of young leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States and a particular theme, while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.  The Fellowship will focus on one of three themes: Civic Engagement, Environmental Issues, and Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.  The Academic Fellowship will include a virtual academic residency and an integrated in-person experience approximately two to three weeks in length at a U.S. host institution.  During the academic residency, participants will engage remotely from their home countries in Institute activities including academic sessions, site visits, leadership development exercises, and cultural activities.  If conditions allow, participants will travel to the U.S. in fall 2022 or spring 2023 to participate in educational and cultural activities inside and outside of the classroom, lectures, and site visits to local communities.  The in-person component in the United States will be organized taking into consideration all necessary safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state, local, and campus authorities.

Program Themes for Spring 2022

Civic Engagement

Environment and Issues

Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

Candidates Description and Qualifications:

The YSEALI Academic Fellows are expected to be full-time undergraduate students from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning; or have recently graduated in recent years, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, extracurricular activities, or their profession.  Their fields of study will be varied, and may include the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, business, and other professional fields.  Emphasis should be made on recruiting Fellows from non-elite backgrounds, from both rural and urban areas, and with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside their home country.  In addition, recruitment of Fellows should include the underserved including indigenous groups, ethnic minority communities, and candidates with disabilities. Please note ECA’s commitment to inclusion of people with disabilities in all ECA programming. Host universities will provide special accommodations for YSEALI Academic Fellows with disabilities as needed.

Applicants must be:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 25 at the time of application, although exceptional applicants over 25 can be considered if they meet all other eligibility requirements;
  • A citizen of one of the following countries: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam;
  • A resident of one of the following countries: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam;
  • A full-time undergraduate student from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning; or have graduated in the past four years;
  • Proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English;
  • Not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States;
  • Eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa; and

Applicants should:

  • Demonstrate interest, knowledge, or professional experience in Civic Engagement, Environmental Issues, or Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development;
  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university, place of work, and/or community;
  • Demonstrate a commitment or interest in community service, volunteerism, or mentorship;
  • Indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States and Southeast Asia as a region;
  • Be willing to actively participate in an intensive virtual academic program, community service, and study tour;
  • Have a commitment to return to their home country to apply leadership skills and training to benefit their community, country, or the region of Southeast Asia; and
  • Have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION AND THEMES:

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Civic Engagement will provide Fellows with an overview of how citizens have shaped U.S. history, government, and society both as individuals and groups.  The Fellowship will define civic engagement, examine its development in the United States, and explore topics such as active citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, and volunteerism.  Other topics such as civil rights, social justice, entrepreneurship, ethics, leadership, and media will be discussed.  Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  Throughout the Fellowship participants will develop innovative and practical plans to become engaged citizens in their own communities.  The University of Nebraska – Omaha and Arizona State University will each conduct and host one Institute.

ENVIRONMENT AND ISSUES

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues will explore the role that environmental policy has played in the economic and political development of the United States.  The Fellowship will use experiential learning techniques to expose participants to current themes in the field, including climate change, sustainable development/sustainable agricultural practices, food security, ecotourism, renewable energy generation, and water management and treatment.  Fellows will explore the issues from numerous angles: local grassroots activism and civic initiatives, impacts on marginalized communities, private sector approaches, global multilateral efforts, and federal government policies and regulation.  Finally, the Fellowships will explore environmental issues in the context of a globalized society, and draw comparisons between the United States and the participants’ home countries.  Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  The University of Montana and the East-West Center will each conduct and host one Institute.

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development will provide Fellows with an overview of entrepreneurial approaches that are employed to address social and economic issues.  The Fellowship will review the development, history, challenges, and successes of enterprises and community leaders, in the United States and globally.  Topics include, but are not limited to, trade; investment; financial literacy; banking; microfinance; organizational development and management; grant writing; innovation; emerging markets and risk analysis; strategic business planning; corporate social responsibility; and, women and minorities in entrepreneurship.  Students will also have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of nonprofit organizations.  The University of Connecticut and the University of Texas-Austin will each conduct and host one Institute.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

This FAQ section addresses some commonly asked questions.  If you cannot find an answer to your question, please contact: SingaporeYSEALI@state.gov.

Q.:  What degree of English proficiency should a participant have?

A.:  All participants must be fully proficient in English; throughout the Institute they will need to fully understand lectures, actively participate in discussions, and read and write assignments in English.

Q.:  Can an applicant who is a dual citizen (U.S. and country of origin) participate in the Academic Fellows Institute?

A.:  No.  U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) are NOT eligible to participate in this program.

Q.:  Will an applicant be disqualified if he/she has previously traveled to the U.S.?

A.:  No.  Applicants with very minimal experience in the United States may be considered for the program.  However, priority will be given to applicants with no previous experience in the United States.

Q.:  How much free time will a participant have during the program?

A.:  There will be some free time during the program.  However, participants MUST understand that this is an intensive academic program and they are expected to fully participate in all lectures, activities, site visits, and scheduled events.

Q.:  If a participant has relatives in the U.S., would he/she have time to see them?

A.:  Participants will NOT be allowed to leave the Institute to visit relatives or friends.  Occasionally it is possible for a relative or friend to visit the participant on a specific day designated by the host institution if the schedule permits.  These situations will be addressed on a case by case basis in consultation with the ECA program officer and the host institution.

Q.:  Can a participant arrive early/late or stay after the Institute?

A.:  No.  Participants who choose to travel to the United States as a YSEALI Academic Fellow are required to abide by the terms and conditions of the program.  These terms state clearly that student leaders may NOT arrive in the United States before the program start date or remain in the country after the close of the institute.

Q.:  Can a participant miss one component of the Institute?

A.:  No.  All Fellows are expected to participate in all scheduled lectures, events, site visits, trips, and activities.

Q.:  How much money will participants need to bring for the program?

A.:  The YSEALI program covers all basic costs of an individual’s participation including transportation, lodging, and meals.  Generally, host institutions provide for meals through a combination of a cafeteria meal plan, a pre-loaded debit card for use at local restaurants, and/or a cash allowance to permit participants to purchase food for cooking.  Information on housing and meal arrangements will be provided by the host institution six weeks prior to the start of the Institute.  Other than the meal stipend mentioned above, participants should not expect to receive any spending money from the Institute.  Participants should bring their own spending money if they wish to purchase souvenirs or other items during their time in the United States.

Q.:  Are participants permitted to smoke during the Institute?

A.:  Yes.  However, participants should be aware that many places in the United States now prohibit smoking.  Smoking in such places could be considered a violation of the law.  Some places that may prohibit smoking are university housing, classrooms, office buildings, restaurants, public parks, and other locations.  Smoking laws will vary from location to location so participants who smoke should look for designated smoking areas.

OTHER ESSENTIAL PROGRAM INFORMATION

Program Funding:
Through cooperative agreements to the host universities, ECA will cover all participant costs, including: international travel costs; technology allowances for the virtual program; travel allowances; program administration; domestic travel and ground transportation; book, cultural, mailing and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence.

Program Model: 

The virtual program will consist of a minimum of 36 hours of required programming and will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning.  To the extent possible, the virtual programming will include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, site visits, assignments, and individual and group activities.  Fellows are required to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their home country.  Fellows must complete the virtual program in order to continue to the in-person program in the United States.  However, if a Fellow cannot continue onto the in-person U.S. component of the program, they will still receive ECA alumni status and be eligible for all ECA alumni benefits after completion of the virtual program.

Technology Requirements: 

In order to participate in the initial virtual program component in their home country, Fellows must have access to a computer and a stable internet connection.  If a Fellow does not have a computer or adequate internet the Academic Fellowship cooperative partners will work with the Fellow to facilitate computer access on an as-needed basis.  For the in-person component of the program, the host institutions will provide Fellows with access to a computer and internet.

Participation: 
Participants will be expected to actively engage in all program activities, and therefore, they should notify immediately the host institution of any issues with their online access during the duration of the program as well as any difficulties affecting their participation.  Candidates should be made aware that they are applying for an intensive, rigorous, academic program and are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the program.  Participants must successfully complete the entire virtual program in order to participate in the in-person program component in the United States.

Housing and Meal Arrangements for the In-Person Component: 

During the in-person program component, housing will be in university dorms or university hotels.  Fellows may be expected to share a room and bathroom with another student of the same gender.  Most meals will be provided at campus facilities, though Fellows may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own. Host institutions will take care to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.  It is important that candidates are aware of these arrangements and that they are comfortable with such accommodations.

Health Benefits: 

All participants will receive the Department of State’s coverage of $100,000 with a $25 co-pay for the duration of the program.  Pre-existing conditions may be covered up to $100,000, subject to policy exclusions and limitations.  ASPE also covers up to $500 for routine COVID-19 testing requirements in the United States.   COVID-19 is treated like any other illness under the ASPE policy.  Information on the health benefit program may be found online at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos.

Program Policy:

Under no circumstances are Fellows allowed to arrive in the United States prior to the start date of the in-person exchange program or remain in the United States after its end date.  Similarly, Fellows will not be permitted to leave the Institute to visit relatives or friends while in the United States.  If a relative or friend wishes to visit them, it will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with the ECA program officer and the host institution.  Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.  It is important that these requirements and restrictions be made clear to all candidates before nominations are submitted.

English Language Ability: 

All candidates should be proficient in English so that they can actively participate in the academic program.  Host institutions will take into account that the level of comprehension and speaking ability of Fellows may vary and will prepare lectures and discussions that meet the highest academic standards while using language appropriate for Fellows where English is their second or third language.

Application Process Timeline:

  • October 1 until November 18, 2021: Application period
  • From January 2022:  Selection of and Interview with candidates
  • January – February 2022: Notification of selected participants

Application Details:

Sign up as a YSEALI member  (if you haven’t already done so)
Complete the online application form by Thursday, November 18, 2021