Extended Program Description

Program Management

The program is directed by Ms. Deena Mansour and Ms. Kelsey Stamm Jimenez at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center with assistance from Caitlin Sager.  Please contact Deena directly for any questions related to this program.

Deena has worked in the field of international exchange since 1990 and at the Mansfield Center since 2009.  She has managed a number of State Department exchange programs and worked directly for the State Department as a diplomat, living in Southeast Asia for four years and traveling extensively throughout the region.  She has degrees in international relations, economics, and public administration.

Kelsey is in charge of the daily management of international exchanges. From establishing international partnerships, to program development, participant recruitment and selection, to program implementation and reporting, Kelsey manages all details of international exchange programs. In addition, she is responsible for evaluation of programs managed by the Center. She first got her start in international development during her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador, where she worked with local government, community groups, and youth to strengthen civic participation and improve local services. Kelsey spearheaded a youth group to provide kids with an outlet to escape gang membership and violence, and worked with an international NGO to distribute fuel-efficient cookstoves throughout the municipality of 10 rural villages. Upon her return to the U.S., Kelsey worked for an international conservation education NGO, where she was in charge of grant writing and outreach.

Caitlin Sager supports international programs throughout the Mansfield Center, including U.S. Department of State sponsored programs and study abroad programs for the University of Montana. She has a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies with a focus on China.

Foreign and domestic partners are integral to the success of the program in terms of facilitating participant selection and local program development.

Program Objectives

  • Promote mutual understanding and lasting partnerships between emerging leaders from ASEAN countries and the U.S. While the program focuses on 32 participants from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam and at least 12 participants from the U.S., the program is designed to have a ripple effect to promote such benefits throughout engaged organizations and communities.
  • Provide opportunities for Asian and American emerging leaders to collaborate and share ideas, approaches, and strategies regarding pressing challenges.
  • Promote enhanced leadership and professional skills for both Asian and American Fellows so that they will be more able to effect positive change in their workplaces and communities.
  • Build a global network of like-minded professionals.

Program Structure

The program is designed to bolster the leadership and professional capabilities of both the Southeast Asian and U.S. participants.  Note that all costs of transportation, food, and lodging are covered by the program, though there is no funding available for salaries or honoraria for participants.  There is also no funding available for host expenditures in their home country (i.e. lodging, transportation, meals, or ticket costs incurred during the course of hosting the counterpart).

Southeast Asian Participants

Traveling to the U.S. 

While the centerpiece of the U.S. program will be a Fellowship placement for each participant, the program offers a practical, multi-dimensional approach to cultivating professional development through a series of speakers, workshops, and field trips that will address shared issues in enhancing leadership.  It culminates in the development of a critical needs assessment whereby each Southeast Asian participant will address a key issue in his/her organization, based on what each Fellow learns during the program and with the support of the U.S. participants.

Orientation.  The first few days of the U.S. program will feature in-depth group workshops and training sessions aimed at a thorough introduction to program themes: orientation; introduction to the U.S. (sessions on U.S. government, economic issues, society, and culture); leadership workshops (conflict resolution, negotiation, and ethics); and non-profit development and management sessions. 

Fellowship.  Following this initial period, participants will be placed in individual Fellowships, including the development of Action Plans.  Fellowships will serve as the centerpiece of the project, as all participants will be placed in organizations that not only closely match their home organization but offer the maximum possible hands-on experience. Placement will allow the participants to get an insider look at the inner day-to-day work of the organization and to develop personal relationships.  Note:  The Fellowship will include a homestay so that Southeast Asian participants receive a firsthand look at life with an American family. 

Action Plan.  Throughout the Fellowship, participants should be considering a critical need in their field, business, or organization in their home country, integrating lessons learned during the course of the program.  The identification of a critical need will provide the foundation for an Action Plan that they will develop together with input by the U.S. Fellowship Partner.   Southeast Asian Fellows will re-group following the close of their Fellowships to evaluate experiences and receive facilitated assistance on finalizing an Action Plan.  The Action Plan may include proposals for small program grants averaging $1,000 aimed at extending the impact of this program and cementing project goals. 

Cultural Program. An important part of the program is immersing the Southeast Asian Fellows in U.S. society and culture. The cultural component is nearly as important as the professional content. As a result, we will be seeking opportunities for the Fellows to be introduced to various aspects of U.S. culture, including attendance at a service club meeting, participating in a service project, and attending cultural performances and activities. 

Closing Visit to Washington, D.C.  Each cohort of Southeast Asian Fellows will spend one month in Missoula, followed by a one-week program in Washington, D.C. to pursue individual professional appointments, cultural activities, and to attend the Professional Exchange Congress of the U.S. Department of State. The Congress is an opportunity to meet other visiting Fellows from across the world and learn more on leadership and shared issues.

U.S. Participants

U.S. Participant Application

U.S.-Foreign Participant Relationship.  Participants will be selected through a merit-based, competitive process. They should be professionals with experience and current employment related to civil society issues.  Current employment should be in a setting which facilitates a Fellowship experience.  Because of the nature of this program, all selected participants must be self-directed, able to work effectively in a cross-cultural setting, and have demonstrated leadership abilities.  While U.S. participants will be recruited widely from across the state, preference will go to those in our partner organizations and those who commit to supporting the Southeast Asian participants as a Fellowship Partner.  The expectation is that a relationship will form between U.S. and foreign participants, thus enabling greater potential for success and on-going cooperation.  Expected benefits include a greater understanding of global economic relationships and cross-cultural understanding.

Travel.  The program supports the travel of approximately 12 U.S. participants to Southeast Asia.  The travel duration is approximately 14 days, depending upon individual schedules and availability.  The final determination of travel will be dependent upon a number of factors, including the greatest potential for tangible professional results as a result of the exchange program.  U.S. participants therefore should not apply for this program based on the potential for travel, but rather for the commitment to learning about international practices and cultures.  Because of the ratio of international to U.S. participants, exchange travel is not guaranteed for U.S. Fellowship Hosts.

For those U.S. participants who do travel, the Mansfield Center will fund all flights and visa requirements; lodging and in-country program; health coverage through the State Department for the travel period; and meal costs.  Your Southeast Asian counterpart will serve as your interpreter during much of your professional program, though the program may hire additional interpreters for meetings as required.  Americans should be prepared that they will not have an interpreter for every moment of their free time, but this is part of the typical experience in visiting a foreign country.  Mansfield Center staff do not speak the languages of the five partner countries but have comfortably traveled in the partner countries.  Southeast Asians are very welcoming, so American participants should not feel intimidated by the thought of experiencing an unfamiliar language and culture.  U.S. travelers should have a sense of adventure and interest in exploration of new cultures.

Outbound Program.  During the outbound program, U.S. participants will first engage in an orientation period followed by a Fellowship placement at the organization of the Southeast Asian counterpart in order to gain a first-hand understanding of the issues experienced in the local culture.  While these issues will have been discussed in Montana, this Fellowship experience will provide the opportunity for more in-depth understanding.  Concurrent with the Fellowship, the U.S. participants will conduct informal on-site consultancies to assist the organization with an assessment of its structure, capacity, and strategic plan. Following the week-long Fellowship, U.S. participants will engage in a more formal consultancy, and be available to visit other similar organizations together with their foreign participant to meet colleagues at other organizations.  Foreign partners will welcome a workshop that U.S. participants may be interested in offering.  The local U.S. embassy or consulate may also be interested in drawing upon the expertise of the U.S. Fellow for seminars or workshops for their contacts.  These activities are designed to maximize the impact of the U.S. expert to meet as many people as possible and expand networks.  Each U.S. participant is expected to visit at least two cities within the target country so as to broaden the experience.  The program is designed to maximize your exposure to cultural activities together with professional responsibilities.

Participant Recruitment

Southeast Asian Participants

Applications for Southeast Asian Participants for the spring cohort are available October 15, 2016 - December 1, 2016. Applications for the fall cohort are available March 1, 2017 - April 15, 2017.

Application review will be conducted by local partners in conjunction with the Mansfield Center.  Successful applicants will progress to a telephone interview in mid-December in order to assess English-language skills and further ascertain suitability for the program.  A select number will be chosen for personal interviews between January 4-18, 2017.  An estimated three participants, and one to two alternates, will be chosen from each country for each of the two recruitment periods. Those selected for the first cohort will be notified by March 1, 2017. Those selected for the second cohort will be notified by June 30, 2017.  A total of 32 Southeast Asian participants will ultimately travel to the U.S. in one of two cohorts, per scheduling on the program calendar.

Selection Criteria for Southeast Asian Participants:

  • English-language fluency.
  • Clear understanding of development issues that affect your community.
  • Aged 25-35, as this is a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) program, designed for young professionals.
  • Plan to return to your organization following completion of the program.
  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in your work.
  • An emerging professional with the background to benefit from this learning experience. Completion of relevant education (preferred but not required).
  • Suitability of the applicant’s organization to benefit from this exchange and to host a U.S. participant.
  • Potential commitment to hosting a U.S. participant for 7-14 days.  This includes organizing a professional program, a cultural orientation, and working with the local partner and the Mansfield Center to organizing logistics such as lodging and transportation. (All activities are paid for by the program, not by you or your organization.)
  • The support of your supervisor and/or organization.
  • A commitment to the time investment required to make the program a success.
  • A demonstrated interest in working in cross-cultural settings.
  • Demonstrated understanding of program objectives.
  • Communication of personal goals in line with program objectives.
  • Participants chosen from each country as a whole reflect the diversity of that country in terms of its populace, geography, and variety of economic interests/fields/organizations.
  • Demonstrated commitment to strengthening your community.
  • Little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States.
  • Be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive program, Fellowship position, community service, and travel program in the U.S. for approximately 38 days.
  • Be able to make adjustments to cultural and social practices different from those in your country.
  • Understand that this is not a tourism or a luxury program. This is a busy professional program.

Montana Participants

U.S. Participant Roles and Responsibilities

Applications for U.S. participants are accepted on a rolling basis. 

Selection Criteria for U.S. Participants:

  • Professional with the experience to support a visiting Fellow’s learning experience.
  • Role model for leadership development.
  • Suitability of the applicant’s organization to benefit from this exchange and to host a Southeast Asian participant.
  • Commitment to hosting a Southeast Asian participant for the full Fellowship period, and the time required to prepare for the Fellowship by communicating via e-mail and Skype with the partner and making any relevant arrangements. 
  • If relevant, the support of his/her supervisor and/or organization.
  • A commitment to the time investment required to make the program a success.
  • A demonstrated interest in working in cross-cultural settings.
  • Demonstrated understanding of program objectives.
  • Communication of personal goals in line with program objectives.
  • Clear understanding of relevant issues and policies of your shared profession.
  • U.S. participants as a whole reflect the diversity of Montana in terms of its populace, geography, and variety of economic interests/fields/organizations.

The ultimate selection of U.S. applicants is dependent upon the identification of Southeast Asian participants who would be a match in terms of compatible professions and responsibilities.  Final selection of U.S. participants will not be made until Southeast Asian participants have been selected in March 2017 and June 2017.

Each separate Southeast Asian and U.S. cohort will be developed on the basis of a) individual schedule preferences; and, b) diversity in individual backgrounds, including country of origin and profession.