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YSEALI Academic Fellows
September 8, 2023

The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellows Program (AFP) will accept applications for the YSEALI SPRING 2024 cohort from today through Thursday, October 26, 2023.


The YSEALI Spring 2024 AFP is an intensive short-term academic program whose purpose is to provide groups of young leaders (18 to 25 years of age) with a deeper understanding of the United States and a particular theme, while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.  The YSEALI AFP will focus on these three themes:

  • Civic Engagement
  • Environmental Issues
  • Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

The five-week programs will consist of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures.  These programs are planned to take place in-person in mid-April 2024.  Should health, safety, and travel conditions pose significant challenges, the program will pivot to a modified virtual format.  The coursework and classroom activities will be complemented by:

  • Educational travel
  • Site visits
  • Leadership activities
  • Volunteer opportunities within the local community

During their academic residency, participants will also have opportunities to engage in educational and cultural activities outside of the classroom.  If conditions allow, the AFP will include an educational study tour to other areas of the United States to meet with local, state, private, and nonprofit organizations working in the field.

Applicants Description and Qualifications:

The YSEALI AFP Fellows are expected to be full-time undergraduate students from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning (IHL), or have graduated in the past four 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.  Applicants must have very little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside their home country.  We strongly encourage people with disabilities to apply; host universities will be able to provide special accommodations for YSEALI Academic Fellows with disabilities as required.

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 Singapore Citizen (SC) or Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) residing in Singapore for full-time undergraduate studies/full-time employment after graduation;
  • 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.

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 academic program, community service, and study tour;
  • Have a commitment to return to Singapore to apply leadership skills and training to benefit their community, country, or the region of Southeast Asia;
  • Have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States. 



Program Dates: April 20 to May 22, 2024 

The YSEALI AFP 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 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.  


Program Dates: April 17 to May 22, 2024 

The YSEALI AFP 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 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 Fellowship 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 meet with community leaders, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  The University of Montana and the East-West Center in Honolulu will each conduct and host one Institute.  


Program Dates: April 14 to May 18, 2024 

The YSEALI AFP 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.  Fellows will also 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.  



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 proficient in English; throughout the Institute they will need to 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 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, this is an intensive academic program and participants 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.  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 prohibited areas is 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. 



Program Funding: 

Through cooperative agreements to the host universities, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will cover all participant costs, including program administration; international and visa travel, travel allowances, domestic travel and ground transportation; book, cultural, mailing and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence.  If the program is conducted virtually, ECA will work with cooperative agreement partners to provide a technology stipend to the Fellows. 


Program Requirements and Restrictions: 

The YSEALI AFP is an intensive and rigorous academic program and participants are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the Fellowship.  Participants must attend all lectures, participate in all required organized activities, and complete all assignments.  Family members and/or friends may not accompany or join participants for any part of the program.   


English Language Ability: 

English Language proficiency is required to participate in this program.  All candidates must be proficient in English.  Therefore, candidate interviews will be conducted in English.  Host institutions will consider the varying levels of participants’ comprehension and speaking ability and will prepare lectures and discussions that meet the highest academic standards while using language appropriate for students where English is their second or third language.   


Housing and Meal Arrangements for the In-Person Component: 

Housing will be in shared or single university dorms on campus or full-service hotels within walking distance of most classroom activities.  Male and female participants will be housed in separate quarters.  In addition to regular group meals and a university meal plan, participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own. 


Reasonable Accommodations:   

Care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.  Special accommodations will be made available to the greatest extent possible.  Should a participant need to quarantine due to positive COVID-19 test results, accommodations will follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.                


Health Benefits: 

All participants will receive the Department of State’s Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) health benefit during the U.S.-based in-person component, which provides coverage of up to $100,000 with a $25 co-pay per medical visit and a $75 co-pay per emergency room visit, 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 health benefits plan.  Information on the health benefit program may be found online at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos. 


Program/ Travel Policy: 

Under no circumstances are participants allowed to arrive in the United States prior to the start date of the Fellowship or remain in the United States after the end date.  Similarly, participants will not be permitted to leave the Fellowship to visit relatives or friends while in the United States.   

If a relative or friend wishes to visit a participant, it will be considered on a case- by-case basis in consultation with the ECA program officer and the host institution.  Participants are required to return to their home countries immediately following the end of the Institute. 


Grounds for Dismissal:   

Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program. 


Virtual Program Contingency: 

Should health, safety, and travel conditions pose significant challenges, the Academic Fellowship will pivot to a virtual format.  The virtual program would consist of a minimum of 36 hours of required programming with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning.  To the extent possible, the virtual programming would include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, site visits, leadership development, assignments, and individual and group activities.  Participants would be expected to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their location.       



Participants will need access to a computer and a stable internet connection to engage in pre-Fellowship orientation activities.  If a participant does not have access to these two items, the cooperative partners will work with the Fellow and post to facilitate access.     


Application, Short-listing & Interview, and Selection Process Timelines: 

  • Application period: Now until October 26, 2023 
  • Short-listing/ Interview: From November 2023 
  • Selection Notification: From End-January 2024 

Application Details:
Sign up as a YSEALI member (if you haven’t already done so)
Complete the online application form