Youth Leadership Program 2011-12
Youth Leadership Program with Southeast Asia
Information for Applicants
Program date: October 25 to November 19, 2011
Program Description: Students and educators (teachers/community leaders) are invited to apply for participation in the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program. The program will be offered for 60 participants from countries in Southeast Asia that are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). In the United States, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, will again host this program.
The program will employ a highly interactive approach both in workshops and in a range of public and community settings. Through engagement with the activities of U.S. high schools, community organizations, youth groups, and community leaders in each location, the student and adult participants will develop a better understanding of civic participation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.
This is an intensive program with three segments: (1) A pre-departure orientation; (2) a 25-day exchange program that will offer students and teachers or community/ leaders the opportunity to explore the principles of leadership and community engagement in the United States; and (3) follow-on activities, where participants will conduct projects in their home communities. The program will be intensive, academic, and highly interactive. The program sponsors seek energetic applicants who are ready to develop their skills in effective leadership for their schools and communities.
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This program is designed to promote high-quality leadership, civic responsibility, and community engagement among our countries’ future leaders. It will offer a practical examination of the principles of democracy and civil society as practiced in the United States and provide articipants with training that allows them to develop their leadership skills.
In addition to the themes of civic education, community service, and leadership, the program may also explore the theme of environmental care and protection.
Participants will visit several communities in the United States, including DeKalb and Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, DC. The program will focus on interactive activities, opportunities to talk with youth and adult community leaders, interactions with government and community organizations, community service, conflict resolution, peer interaction and building leadership skills. The program will include some school-based activities so that participants can meet their American peers, experience a U.S. school environment, and participate in some classes. Cultural and recreational activities will balance the schedule. Participants will also experience American family life while participating in a home stay.
The adult participants will have many program elements in common with those provided for the students, and will also have some activities designed just for them to help them foster youth leadership and civic education programs at home.
An important part of the program is the development and implementation of the projects after their return home. These projects will respond to a need in the school or community. Examples include supporting student government or other means of student involvement in the decision making process in schools, producing visual materials that share information on social issues, developing peer-support or peer-mediation programs or workshops, cooperating with local NGOs trying to develop a spirit of volunteerism, or supporting activities that help increase media coverage of youth issues. All participants will be expected to complete these follow-on projects.
What else do I need to know?
The United States Government, in conjunction with its partner Northern Illinois University, will pay for domestic transportation, international transportation to and from the United States, orientations, program fees and administration, site visits and seminars, lodging and most meals, program related cultural activities, educational materials, accident and sickness coverage, and a modest amount of pocket money. Volunteer host families provide housing for participants for approximately twelve days during their time at the host institution.
Participants are responsible for expenses related to the application process (copying, mailing, photographs, etc.) and spending money for souvenirs, telephone calls, and other personal items in the United States.
Participants will travel to the United States on J-1 exchange visitor visas provided through this program. By accepting this visa, participants will be subject to a two-year home residency requirement, meaning they must return to and live in their home country for a total of two years before they would be eligible for an immigrant or temporary worker U.S. visa. This does not restrict other types of visas, however, so this would not prevent you from being able to apply for a student visa to attend university, for example.
Who is eligible to apply?
Student applicants must…..
• be at least 15 years old and not more than 17 years old at the time of the exchange
• be high school or first-year university students
• have English skills that will allow them to both understand academic lectures as well as day to day conversations
• have permission from parents (and schools, if missing any classes) to participate in the entire program
• exhibit a high level of open-mindedness, maturity, and interpersonal skills.
Adult applicants must ….
• be active in working with youth in either a school or community setting
• be willing and able to meet periodically with selected students from all schools in their city during 2011-2012 to support their follow-up work
• have English skills that will allow them to both understand academic lectures as well as day to day conversations that exhibit a high level of open-mindedness, flexibility, and interpersonal skills.
What are the criteria for selection?
Students will be evaluated on the following characteristics:
• demonstrated leadership in their schools or communities
• a clear interest in and commitment to volunteer and participate in civic activities
• strong social and communication skills
• intellectual curiosity
• proficiency in English
• ability to implement projects that benefit the applicant’s school and community
Adult applicants will be evaluated on the following factors:
• demonstrated history of supporting youth activities and promoting youth leadership
• strong record in teaching and/or leading youth programs
• demonstrated leadership and a commitment to all goals and ideals of the program
• proficiency in English
• commitment to working with youth after the project to help them implement projects
How do I apply?
Complete an application form and submit it to the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy by the announced deadline. Take special care in answering the essay questions.
Submit two letters of recommendation along with the application
• Students: One from an English teacher or tutor and one from another teacher and/or school official.
• Adults: Either two from senior teachers or school officials or one from a senior teacher or school official and one from a community leader who is familiar your experience working with teenagers.
The Public Affairs Section will contact the applicants selected for interviews based on the criteria above, as demonstrated in the application. They will conduct interviews and upon the final decision, they will announce the finalists and alternates.
And after that…?
The selected participants will be receiving orientation materials in the weeks prior to the start of the program to help prepare them for the program and their trip to the United States. Timely return of forms following acceptance assists in arranging housing and programming at the host institution and during travel.
A pre-departure orientation and training sessions with both students and the adult participant will take place in the month prior to departure. Participants and their families will have an opportunity to speak with the Public Affairs Section about the project at that time.
After their return home and through the following months, participants will be responsible for completing their follow-on projects and reporting information on these projects to the host information.
Thank you for your interest in the program and good luck with your applications!