Call for Applications: YSEALI Academic Fellowship 2024
The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Lao PDR is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellowships to candidates from Laos interested in the themes of Civic Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development for 2024!
There will be two Institutes on each theme with each Institute composed of up to 50 Fellows. The five-week Spring programs are planned to take place in-person during April through May and the Fall programs are planned during August through November; exact dates will be communicated to post prior to final selection. Should health, safety, and travel conditions continue to pose significant challenges, the program will pivot to a modified virtual format.
A total of 20 Lao applicants will be selected to participate in the YSEALI Academic Fellowship 2024.
Please note that only online application forms and uploaded videos that are accessible will be accepted and evaluated. The deadline of application is by 5pm, September 29, 2023 (Laos Time).
- Download the application form and fill out appropriately:
- Record a video of yourself (MAXIMUM 2 minutes) – Tell us about yourself, your background and goals and why you think you are qualified for this program. Your uploaded video MUST be less than or maximum of 2 minutes and be accessible. If not, your application will be automatically disqualified.
- Upload your application by clicking the link below, your video with accessible authorization and related docs at:
If you have any inquiry, please contact:
Public Diplomacy Section
U.S. Embassy Vientiane, Laos
Tel: 021-487000, ext. 7029
The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is a public diplomacy program designed to advance regional strategic goals, break down barriers that separate the next generation of leaders in Southeast Asia, and link those emerging leaders to the United States. To this end, the YSEALI Academic Fellowship will bring exceptional young leaders from Southeast Asian countries to the United States to further develop their professional and leadership skills. The Study of the U.S. Branch implements the YSEALI Academic Fellowship aimed at young leaders aged 18-25.
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 five-week programs will consist 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 must take place virtually, Fellows will engage in similar activities but online from their home countries.
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 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/Portland State University will each conduct and host one Institute.
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 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, HI will each conduct and host one Institute.
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 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 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.
III. Other Essential Program Information:
Program Funding: Through cooperative agreements to the host universities, 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 the cooperative partners to provide a technology stipend to the Fellows.
Program Requirements and Restrictions: Candidates should be made aware that they are applying for an intensive and rigorous academic program and 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 so that they can actively participate in the academic program.
Housing and Meal Arrangements: 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. It is important that nominees are aware of these arrangements and that they are comfortable with such 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 coverage of $100,000 with a $25 co-pay for the duration of the program. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. 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.
Travel Policy: Under no circumstances Fellows are 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 U.S. Department of State 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.
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. Participants would be expected to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their location.
Connectivity: Should the program need to pivot to a virtual format, participants would need access to a computer and a stable internet connection. If a participant does not have access to these two items, the cooperative partners will work with the Fellow and post to facilitate access. Participants will be expected to actively engage in all program activities, and therefore, they should notify the host institution and Post immediately of any issues with their online access during the duration of the program as well as any difficulties affecting their participation.
The 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, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, extracurricular activities, or their profession.
Priority will be given to applicants from non-elite backgrounds, from both rural and urban areas, and with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside of Laos. Applications are encouraged from underserved groups including indigenous groups, ethnic minority communities, and candidates with disabilities.
Candidates nominated for this program must be:
- Be a YSEALI member. Register for free at http://yseali.state.gov
- 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 and a resident of Laos; currently reside in Laos
- A full-time undergraduate student from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning; or have graduated in the past four years; currently studying and/or working in Laos
- Proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English;
- Not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.;
- Eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa;
Selection criteria; successful 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 ASEAN as a region;
- Be willing to actively participate in an intensive 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 ASEAN region; and
- Preferably have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States.
Applications deadline: 5pm, September 29, 2023 (Laos Time)
Interview for shortlisted candidates: October, 2023
Announcement of the YSEALI Academic Fellowship 2024 candidates: November, 2023
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I choose to participate in Spring or Fall program?
No, but you can let us know your preference and the final decision will be made by the YSEALI Academic Fellowship Committees to balance and diversify applicants of each program.
What degree of English proficiency should a nominee have?
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.
Can a nominee who is a dual citizen (U.S. and country of origin) participate in the Academic Fellows Institute?
No. U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) are NOT eligible to participate in this program.
My nominee has been to the U.S. before; would he/she be disqualified?
No. Nominees with very minimal experience in the United States may be considered for the program. However, priority will be given to nominees with no previous experience in the United States. If you find it necessary to nominate a candidate with previous U.S. experience, please be sure to clearly indicate the purpose of the nominee’s visit to the U.S., the year, and the length of his/her stay as requested on the nomination form.
How much free time will a participant have during the program?
There will be some free time during the program. However, nominees 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.
If a nominee has relatives in the U.S., would he/she have time to see them?
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.
Can a participant arrive early/late or stay after the Institute?
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.
Can a participant miss one component of the Institute?
No. All Fellows are expected to participate in all scheduled lectures, events, site visits, trips, and activities.
How much money will participants need to bring for the program?
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.
My nominee participated in the English Access Microscholarship Program; can he/she participate in this Institute?
Are participants permitted to smoke during the Institute?
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.