NIU to offer fellowships to Southeast Asia youth program alumni

Dana Stover and Doug BakerNorthern Illinois University President Doug Baker announced Monday evening the establishment of the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program (SEAYLP) Fellowship, a program that will provide tuition waivers to students who have participated or will be participating in the U.S. Department of State program administered by NIU since 2009.

The fellowship will be offered to SEAYLP alumni who attend a degree program, either a bachelor’s or master’s degree, at NIU. Two hundred and six students from 10 Southeast Asian countries have gone through the program’s seven sessions. Students attending the 2015 or 2016 programs also will be eligible.

“It is our hope that a number of these SEAYLP alumni will join us here at Global NIU, and with an NIU degree return to the region to create the kind of positive change they have spent their time in SEAYLP imagining and planning,” Baker said during a farewell reception for program participants.

SEAYLP is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered at NIU by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in cooperation with the Division of International Affairs.

Participants hail from 10 Southeast Asian nations: Brunei, Cambodian, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. They are chosen by the U.S. embassies in their home countries through rigorous screenings.

Southeast Asia Youth Leadership ProgramHighly praised by the U.S. State Department, SEAYLP aims to:

  • develop leadership skills,
  • increase appreciation for cultural similarities and differences,
  • gain increased awareness of and appreciation for ethnic, religious and national diversity,
  • instill a drive for civic participation, community service and coalition building, and
  • increase understanding of global and regional challenges and opportunities.

Upon their return to their home countries, many of the young students have embarked on community service projects ranging from garbage clean-up campaigns, to volunteering at a pediatric cancer hospital, to founding a library, to starting a reading room at an orphanage. They have gone on to start NGOs, work for their respective governments and pursue academic careers.

“NIU’s youth leadership-training programs really do bring the best and brightest students from these countries to our campus,” said Christopher McCord, dean of the NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “These students go back to their homelands and do great things.

“We believe this new scholarship program will further strengthen our relationships in Southeast Asia, an area of specialization at NIU over the past five decades, and also strengthen U.S. relationships with this important region of the world,” he added.

Judy Ledgerwood, director of the NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies, noted SEAYLP has a bright future.

“I am excited about the future of SEAYLP,” Ledgerwood said. “We look forward to hosting two more groups in 2015 and 2016, and to welcoming back SEAYLP alumni from across the region to complete their studies here at Northern.”

Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program

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