Chul Kim ’15, Fellow 2015-2017, helps a student at the Writing Support Center at J.F. Oberlin University in Japan.
APPLICATION SUPPORT & FAQs
HOW CAN WE SUPPORT YOU?
Oberlin Shansi is dedicated to providing prospective Fellows with advice and support as they prepare their applications. Whether you are just learning about the Shansi Fellowship or are polishing final drafts of your application essays, we can provide guidance in the following ways:
Information Sessions: The Shansi team will provide an overview of the Fellowship program, our sites, our benefits, and opportunities for independent travel, professional development, and career mentorship. We answer questions and provide tips for getting started on an application.
One-on-One Advising: Feel free to schedule a brief appointment with a member of the Shansi staff. Each appointment is tailored to the needs of the applicant. You can request an overview of programs, ask site-specific questions, and learn more about career trajectories of alumni. This is also a great opportunity for staff to get to know your interests, your goals, and your passions to help guide you as you move forward.
Expert Connections: Shansi can put you in touch with current Fellows, recent alumni, and affiliated Oberlin faculty to help answer your site-specific questions. These are the experts who can give you in-depth knowledge about life and work at one of our partner institutions.
Essay Support: A Shansi staff person (or a member of one of our selection committees) can look at drafts of your application essays to provide initial feedback and advice. This is possible until two weeks before the application deadline. The earlier you send us your drafts, the better!
Historically, successful applicants have taken advantage of one or more of these opportunities to engage with Shansi when preparing their applications. They have also consulted with mentors - including advisors, professors, and staff at the Career Development Center and Fellowships and Awards Office.
Please remember that the Shansi Fellowship is competitive. Every year we see incredible applications, but are unable to grant Fellowships to every stellar person who applies. Engaging with Shansi staff when considering whether to apply and when preparing your application can help you become better informed about Shansi Fellowships and prepare a stronger application.
If you have any questions about application support or would like to set up a brief appointment with a Shansi staff person, please contact Ted Samuel (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Why a Shansi Fellowship?
Shansi Fellowships offer graduating Oberlin students and recent graduates transformative opportunities for long-term, immersive, cross-cultural exchanges. Living and working in Asia for two years inspires Shansi Fellows to learn about themselves and the rest of the world, to build language, leadership, and professional skills, and to enrich their perspectives on the world outside their own. Fellows can work on issues people care about today, and take advantage of Shansi’s long-term relationships across Asia.
By the time two years have passed, Shansi Fellows develop a better understanding of local cultures, people, and languages, and hopefully themselves. They also will have made contributions to their host institutions and communities, and helped their counterparts and communities to learn about the perspectives of Oberlin graduates. It is Shansi’s hope that individuals and institutions on both sides of the exchange will benefit from these cross-cultural experiences.
What is a Shansi Fellow Like?
There is no one profile sought by the Fellowship selection committee. Successful Shansi Fellows come from all backgrounds and majors, from the College and the Conservatory. They tend to share a passion for learning and intercultural exchange and an eagerness to share ideas and immerse themselves in new environments. Language fluency (except for the Hiroshima Fellowship) and teaching background are not prerequisites, nor is experience abroad, but openness to new ideas and new cultures will be critical to success as a Shansi Fellow.
Shansi Fellows will be adaptable and patient, and will demonstrate sensitivity to cultures with values that may be very different from their own. They will need to be able to operate independently, to be mindful of the partner institution’s requirements, and to respect Shansi’s long-term affiliations with partners in Asia.
Balancing these objectives requires full-time commitment, individual initiative, and determination. The rewards are often rich and life changing, and most Fellows report that the relationships they built during their Shansi Fellowships last for the rest of their lives.
Who is eligible for the Fellowship?
Shansi Fellowships are open to all Oberlin College and Conservatory seniors and recent alums in all majors and departments. Students graduating in 2021, and alums who graduated in the past three years (2020, 2019, and 2018) are eligible to apply in January 2021.
Can international students apply?
International students are encouraged to apply for Shansi Fellowships. We do not discriminate on the basis of national origin or citizenship. However, we have to follow the visa rules of the countries where we operate and the HR requirements instituted by our partners. Teaching sites, in particular, can only support work visas for English instructors from certain countries. As such, some international students may have a more difficult time satisfying eligibility requirements for certain Fellowship opportunities.
However, there are opportunities available to all students, regardless of their country of citizenship. We encourage international students to speak to a Shansi staff member early in the application process to discuss available opportunities.
Do I need to have teaching experience for the Fellowships at a University?
No, you do not need to have teaching experience to apply for the Shansi Fellowships that include teaching responsibilities. All newly selected Fellows for Summer 2021 departure are required to take part in a comprehensive orientation. Shansi will also provide online TESOL training through an accredited program and additional, in-person classroom management and lesson planning workshops. Any teaching experience as a tutor, school volunteer, mentor, camp counselor, or workshop leader will be considered a plus.
How many Fellows are at a site at a given time?
A majority of our sites have two Fellows - one first-year ‘Junior’ Fellow and one second-year ‘Senior’ Fellow. This system promotes on-the-ground peer mentorship. Senior Fellows often support Junior Fellows in lesson/work planning, navigating local bureaucracies, and finding local support networks.
Are all Shansi Fellowships two years long? Are there shorter opportunities?
All of the Fellowships we offer are between 22 to 24 months - or two academic years.
Shansi staff, Fellows, and alumni see the two-year commitment as an opportunity. Within this timeframe, Fellows:
gain regional expertise
develop and refine language skills,
engage with local communities through volunteering, research, and artistic initiatives, and
expand professional skills in teaching, program management, advising, etc.
International opportunities that last a year or less often see participants leaving just as they hit their stride. With a two year opportunity, Fellows have the time and support to move beyond an adjustment period. They have the opportunity to invest in their work, develop healthy routines, explore independent interests, and make lasting personal and professional connections.
Also, Shansi offers extensive paid vacation time. Teaching Fellows get up to three months off per year, while Fellows based at NGOs earn up to six weeks per year. As such, Fellows are not spending an entire two year stretch in one place, doing one thing. Fellows use their vacation time (and the additional $1500 grant) to participate in conferences and workshops, volunteer in other cities, and travel extensively.
Can I go home during my Shansi Fellowship?
In general, Shansi staff discourages Fellows from coming home. However, we understand the Fellows often have professional, medical, or personal reasons for briefly visiting home, and will not stop them from doing so.
Can I apply for more than one Fellowship?
Yes, applicants can apply for more than one Fellowship site. On the application you will choose your preferred Fellowship site choice along with any alternative sites you may be interested in.
If you choose to apply for both a site-specific Fellowship and the Independent Fellowship, you will have to write an additional essay. For tips on how to write a statement of purpose when applying for more than one Fellowship, feel free to contact the Shansi office for assistance.
How does the Fellowship selection process work?
Completed applications are sent to country-specific selection committees, which are composed of Shansi alumni, affiliates, and area experts. These committees report back to the staff with comments, questions, and recommendations for each candidate.
Based on these committee reports, a Fellowships Committee, consisting of Shansi staff and a member of the Board of Trustees, invite finalists for a 30-40 minute interview. Interviews are conducted either in-person or via Zoom.
Final selections are made based on a candidate’s written application and interview.