Executive Summary

The objective of the Civic Engagement program is to promote mutual understanding, enhance leadership and professional skills, and build sustainable partnerships between emerging leaders from foreign countries and the U.S. In turn, U.S. participants gain valuable cross-cultural insights and new perspectives on their own professions. The program has had over one hundred past Montana participants since 2012, all of whom have evaluated the experience as worthwhile and highly beneficial to themselves and their workplaces.

In the 2018 program, 32 Southeast Asians and 12 Americans will travel between April 2018 and June 2019. Southeast Asian participants will engage in a 38-day program in the U.S. in one of two cohorts: 16 Asian Fellows will travel to the U.S. in  late April through early June, and 16 Asian Fellows will travel in a second group from mid-october October to mid-November.

With participant Fellowships as a centerpiece, our program offers a hands-on approach to issues shared by the countries of the Lower Mekong by enhancing leadership and professional skills in civic engagement while building sustainable partnerships. The program features practical lessons that culminate in each Southeast Asian participant developing an Action Plan with follow-on projects to advance their professional goals.

Each Southeast Asian Fellow will be matched with a Montana participant for a Fellowship of four weeks, with Fellows connecting periodically to the Mansfield Center for specialized workshops, lectures, and field trips. Matches will be made given shared interests, type of organization, and best opportunity for achieving program goals. During this period, the Southeast Asian participant will learn from the Montana Fellowship Host, as well as share ideas from his/her home country. The Southeast Asian Fellow will develop an Action Plan for specific takeaways that can be implemented back home.

Please note that this is not a one-to-one exchange. An estimated 12 of the Fellowship Hosts may have the opportunity to travel to their Fellowship partner’s home country, although this will depend on the success of the Fellowship and how well program goals will be addressed by the outbound program. Those who host more than one Southeast Asian Fellow will have greater opportunity to travel. The U.S. participant travelers are expected to travel in August 2018 or January 2019, though exceptions to this time frame occur.

Our Montana partners include: the University of MontanaUnited Way of Missoula County, Women's Foundation of Montana and many more. Read our full list of local partners. 

Our foreign partners are:  the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia; the Rural Development Agency (RDA) in Laos; Thai Volunteer Service; the Center for Community Empowerment in Vietnam; and the Third Story Project in Burma/Myanmar.