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September 29, 2022


The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines is pleased to announce the call for applications for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellowships for Spring 2023!

I. Program Overview 

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship will bring exceptional young leaders, aged 18-25, from Southeast Asian countries to the United States to further develop their professional and leadership skills. All expenses will be covered by the program. 

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship is an intensive short-term academic program that provides young leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States and of 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 is a five-week in-person program in the United States sometime between March to May 2023, consisting of a balanced series of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures.  The coursework and classroom activities will be complemented by educational travel, site visits, leadership activities, and volunteer opportunities within the local community.  During the academic residency, participants will also have opportunities to engage in educational and cultural activities outside of the classroom.  If conditions allow, the Fellowship will include an educational study tour to other areas of the United States, where they will meet with local, state, private, and nonprofit organizations working in the field.  Note that if the program takes place virtually, Fellows will engage in similar activities but online from their home countries.

II. Program Themes

A. YSEALI Academic Fellowship on 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 discussed are civil rights, social justice, entrepreneurship, ethics, leadership, and media.  Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of nonprofit organizations.  Throughout the Fellowship, participants will develop innovative and practical plans to become engaged citizens in their communities. The University of Nebraska – Omaha and Portland State University will conduct and host the Fellowship.

B. YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental 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 regulations.  Finally, the Fellowships will explore environmental issues in 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 nonprofit organizations.  The University of Montana and the East-West Center will conduct and host the Fellowship.

C. YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development 

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development will provide Fellows with an overview of entrepreneurial approaches 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 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 conduct and host the Fellowship.

III. Fellowship Qualifications 

YSEALI Academic Fellows are expected to be full-time undergraduate students from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning; or have graduated in the past four years, and who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, extracurricular activities, or their profession. 

Priority will be given to applicants from non-elite backgrounds, from rural and urban areas, and with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside the Philippines.  Applications are encouraged from underserved groups, including indigenous groups, ethnic minority communities, the LGBTQI+ community, and candidates with disabilities. Host universities will provide special accommodations for YSEALI Academic Fellows with disabilities as needed. 

Applicants must be:  

  • A YSEALI member (Register for free at http://yseali.state.gov); 
  • Between the ages of 18 and 25 at the time of application; 
  • A citizen and resident of the Philippines; 
  • Not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States; 
  • A full-time undergraduate college student or have graduated in the past four years; and 
  • Proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English. 

Ideal candidates should: 

  • Demonstrate interest, knowledge, or professional experience in any of the three Fellowship themes above; 
  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university, place of work, 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; and 
  • Be committed to returning to the Philippines to apply leadership skills and training to benefit their community, country, or the Southeast Asian region. 

IV. Other Essential Program Information 

A. Participation

Fellows should be aware that they are applying for an intensive, rigorous academic program and are expected to participate in all aspects of the program fully. Fellows 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.  Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

B. Housing and Meal Arrangements 

Housing will be in shared or single university dorms on campus or hotels within walking distance of most classroom activities. 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 ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.  It is essential that candidates are aware of these arrangements and comfortable with such accommodations. Should a Fellow need to quarantine due to positive COVID-19 test results, accommodations will follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.          

C. 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.

D. Virtual Program Contingency 

Should health, safety, and travel conditions continue to 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.  Fellows would be expected to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their home country.    

E. Technology Requirements 

Should the program need to pivot to a virtual format, Fellows must have access to a computer and a stable internet connection in their home countries.  If a Fellow does not have a computer or adequate internet, the fellowship program administrators will work with the Fellow to facilitate computer access on an as-needed basis.   

F. Program Funding 

The program will cover all participant costs, including international travel 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, technology allowances may be provided to the Fellows.    

V. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A. What degree of English proficiency should I have?  

All participants must be fully proficient in English. Throughout the program, they will need to fully understand lectures, actively participate in discussions, and read and write assignments in English.

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

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

C. I have been to the U.S. before; would I be disqualified?   

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.

D. If I have relatives in the U.S., would I have time to see them?  

Participants will NOT be allowed to leave the program 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 program officer and the host institution.

E. Can I arrive early/late or stay after the Program? 

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

VI. Application and fellowship timeline 

  • October 3, 2022: Application opens 
  • November 3, 2022: Application closes
  • November 18, 2022: Notification of shortlisted applicants. 
  • January 2023: Announcement of results 
  • Between March-May 2023: Academic Fellowship Program (contingent upon health, safety, and travel conditions) 

APPLY HERE: https://bit.ly/ysealiphacadspring2023 

Application deadline: November 3, 2022, 11:59 P.M. Philippine Standard Time 

  • Due to the number of applications received, the Secretariat may not be able to acknowledge receipt of each application. 
  • Only shortlisted applicants for interviews will be notified by November 18, 2022. 
  • Successful applicants will be notified via email.  Results will also be posted on the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines’ official Facebook page. 
  • For questions, please email ysealiphilippines@state.gov