Announcement

Announcing the 2023 Stevens Initiative Alumni Fellowship

The Stevens Initiative is excited to invite alumni of our sponsored virtual exchange programs to apply to participate in the 2023 Stevens Initiative Alumni Fellowship, supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The 2023 Fellowship honors Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens ten years after his passing and pays tribute to his dedication to building mutual understanding and bridges between the United States and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In this sentiment, pairs of Fellows will participate in reciprocal community visits as well as monthly online activities throughout the year. J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative alumni are encouraged to read the program description, timeline, eligibility requirements, and application process below before completing an application. 

Program Description

The Stevens Initiative Alumni Fellowship will provide an opportunity for alumni to develop personally and professionally as global leaders, intercultural communicators, and cross-cultural collaborators while deepening ties to the Stevens Initiative. Through virtual and in-person programming, the Initiative will create a network of young people from the U.S. and MENA region while fostering global learning, professional development, and leadership exploration. Alumni will apply in pairs, with one U.S.-based alum and one MENA-based alum in each pair. Selected pairs will work together throughout the Fellowship, strengthening ties between their respective communities. Specific program components include: 

    • Monthly Virtual Learning Sessions: Each month, Fellows will participate in one 90-120 minute synchronous learning session focused on Fellowship learning goals and will be expected to complete pre- and post-session activities. 
    • Monthly Virtual Activities: Each month, alumni will participate in small group, paired, or individual activities to deepen learning, prepare for program components, facilitate networking, and strengthen ties between alumni. These activities could include asynchronous projects, discussion boards, media sharing, or small informal virtual meetings. 
    • Community Service Project: Throughout the Fellowship, alumni pairs will develop a community service project that leverages the learning from their virtual exchange experience and the Fellowship to meet a need in their community. These follow-on projects can address a number of needs in a variety of topic areas, such as public health, technology, education/exchange, entrepreneurship, art education, or others. All projects should have a virtual exchange or collaboration component built in. The Initiative will provide modest funds, training, guidance, and staff feedback. Fellows will have to submit a project plan and funding request during the Fellowship to carry out the project and submit a report after the project is completed.
    • In-person Fellowship Events: Four in-person activities are planned for this Fellowship. All activities will be fully funded and supported by the program and are mandatory for all Fellows: 
      • Two in-person workshops (one in the MENA region, location TBD, and one in Washington, DC) to serve as opportunities for deep learning and cohort building. The MENA workshop (planned for June 2023) will include preparation for community visits by the U.S. participants to their partners’ community and the Washington, DC, workshop (planned for January 2024) will include culminating activities for the program. 
      • Two short reciprocal community visits (with each alum visiting their partner’s community for no more than five days) as an opportunity for alumni to learn about the lived experience of their partner.  Each alum will develop a community immersion hosting plan before their partner’s visit to their community. For certain communities, alternative travel plans might be arranged based on the feasibility of travel. 

Important Dates

    • Application and Selection:
      • Fellowship application and partner interest form open: October 24, 2022
      • Partner interest form closes: November 9, 2022
      • Partner interest profiles shared with applicants: November 11, 2022
      • Fellowship application closes:  November 28, 2022 
      • Semifinalist notification: December 8-12, 2022
      • Semifinalist interviews: December 12-20, 2022
      • Finalists notification: January 17, 2023 
    • Learning and In-person Events:
      • Virtual learning program begins: February 2023
      • MENA Workshop: Late June 2023 (Location TBD)
      • MENA Community Visits: Late June 2023
      • U.S. Community Visits: Early January 2024
      • U.S. Workshop: Mid-January 2024, Washington, DC

Applying in Pairs 

Alumni will participate in this Fellowship in pairs, with one U.S.-based alum and one MENA-based alum in each pair. Alumni will need to provide details about their partner in the application. Alumni can apply with partners they connected with during their virtual exchange program or a partner who participated in a different J. Christopher Stevens Initiative Virtual Exchange program.

Unpaired alumni who would like to be connected with other J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative alumni can fill out this simple partner interest form. Alumni profiles from these form submissions will be shared with other applicants seeking partners to apply in pairs.. Interest forms must be submitted by November 9, 2022, and profiles will be shared on November 11, 2022. Alumni who submit interest forms agree to have the information they submit shared with other alumni who also submitted interest forms. It is each alum’s responsibility to reach out and find a partner who agrees to apply for the Fellowship. The Initiative cannot guarantee that all alumni who submit an interest form will find a partner. 

Eligibility Requirements 

All applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements to be considered for the program: 

    • Applicants must be at least 18 years old by the time this application closes (November 28, 2022) and an alum of a J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative program. An alum is someone who successfully completed their virtual exchange program. Alumni status will be verified with Stevens Initiative grantee organizations. 
    • Applicants must fill out their own application individually, but will be asked about their partner alum in the application. Alumni should plan to connect with another J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange alum before submitting an application to confirm the partnership and gather the required information. Each alumni pair should consist of one U.S.-based alum and one MENA-based alum. This partnership is important since each alum will visit their partner’s community, welcome their partner to their own community, and plan and implement a project together. 
    • Applicants must demonstrate moderate to high English language proficiency, assessed in the application through written answers and a recorded video. Alumni are encouraged to apply even if they are concerned about their level of English proficiency since the Initiative defines moderate English language proficiency broadly.  
    • Applicants must have access to a computer with a strong internet connection, microphone, and webcam. Limited funding to cover internet data costs might be available for selected participants who demonstrate need. 
    • For MENA-based applicants, you must be eligible to receive a J1 visa. This means that you must have an active passport or have applied for a passport before submitting an application for this Fellowship. You must also be able to travel to your local U.S. embassy or consulate for an interview. Travel costs to secure a visa will be supported by the program.You should read the terms and conditions of securing a J1 visa here
    • For U.S-based applicants, you must be able to secure a visa to participate in MENA country visits, as applicable. This means you must have an active passport or have applied for a passport before submitting an application for this Fellowship.
    • Applicants must have access to a bank account that can accept transfers from U.S. organizations to receive project support and participation funds. This bank account must be active and in the name of the applicant. 
    • Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to complete all Fellowship components, including: six-to-eight hours per month for virtual learning and activities, attendance at all in-person events (including travel days), and completion of the community service project developed during the Fellowship. 

Application Process and Resources 

Applications for the 2023 Stevens Initiative Alumni Fellowship must be submitted here by November 28, 2022, at 5pm U.S. Eastern Time.

Prospective applicants can download a sample application here. Please note, applications will require information about your international partner, your resumé/CV, answers to short essay questions, your demographic information, and a video introduction.

Applicants are encouraged to watch this video for an explanation of how to complete the application. Questions about eligibility should be sent to stevensalumni@aspeninstitute.org. 

Applications will be reviewed, and a small group of semifinalist pairs will be invited to short interviews with Initiative staff. Finalists will be selected and notified following those interviews.

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