Array of batik textiles in Indonesia (Photo Credit: Teresa Tippens' 15, Shansi Fellow to Yogyakarta 2015-2017)
Oberlin Shansi’s Independent Fellowship offers a highly motivated Oberlin College & Conservatory senior or recent alumnus the opportunity to create a full-time Shansi Fellowship. Candidates can apply to work with an NGO, educational institution, or social enterprise in one of Shansi’s core operating countries (China, India, Indonesia, and Japan). In 2019, we will also begin considering proposals to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, South Korea, The Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Graduating seniors and alumni who have graduated up to three years ago are eligible to apply. Oberlin Shansi will award one Fellowship per year. International students and alumni may apply for this fellowship, but are discouraged from proposing Fellowships to their home countries.
The Independent Fellowship is an exceptional opportunity for a creative and responsible Fellow to experience deep cultural immersion while developing academic and professional skills, building networks with peers and counterparts, contributing to a host institution, and pursuing knowledge of an issue or field.
The applicant is responsible for identifying the host institution. The Fellowship can be situated in institutions such as non-profit organizations, governmental organizations, educational institutions, private organizations, etc. Fellows may work in various fields including, but not limited to, public health, the environment, law and human rights, community development, the arts, or gender rights and advocacy.
The Fellowship will be awarded as a full-time, two-year Fellowship. After the initial six months in the field, a Shansi representative will visit the Fellow in the field to review progress together. Shansi staff will provide support and assistance from the campus of Oberlin College and also visit the Fellow on-site during the second year.
Fellows will make a substantial time commitment to the host institution. This is a full-time endeavor; vacations must be negotiated with the host institutions. If agreeable with the host institution, family and friends can visit the Fellow for no more than two weeks. Time off for events, such as graduate school interviews, must be negotiated with the host organization.
The application will be divided into two stages to ensure adequate time for applicants to identify a host organization and develop an implementation plan. Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their projects with Shansi staff before and during the application process.
In October, each applicant will submit an application that will include a short concept note of 2-3 pages explaining what they propose to do over the first year of the Fellowship and tentative plans for the second year, how they will accomplish their goals, and why it is important to them. A Shansi evaluation committee will review the applications and invite selected applicants to an interview. In November, after interviews are completed, the committee will invite a number of the applicants to move on to the second stage of the process.
In February, the selected applicants will submit a full proposal. In this, they will strengthen their conceptual frameworks and explain how both they and the host institutions will benefit. During this second stage of the process, a Shansi mentor will be assigned to each short-listed applicant. The applicants will consult with the proposed host organizations, confirm their mutual interest, and develop goals, work plans, and schedules. The applicants must demonstrate how the Fellowship will be beneficial to both the Fellow and the organization in which the Fellow will work. The applicant must also present a budget for living expenses for the first year. A review committee will examine the proposals and interview the applicants for a second time.
Application and Fellowship Timeline for 2020 Independent Fellowships
October 28, 2019 Stage One – Application with concept note due
November 17-20, 2019 First Round of Interviews
November 26, 2019 Invitations to move to Stage Two application will be sent out
January 31, 2020 Stage Two - Full proposal and proposed budget due
February 3-6, 2020 Second Round of Interviews
February 17, 2020 Independent Fellowship Awarded
Mid-June/July 2020 Independent Fellow begins language training
September 2020 Work at the host institution commences
Feb/March 2019 Shansi representative visits the Fellow in the field
What does a strong candidate for the Independent Fellowship look like?
Applicants need to demonstrate the ability to take ownership of their Fellowships from beginning to end, the resourcefulness and imagination to work through inevitable obstacles, and the integrity and emotional maturity to treat other people with kindness and respect.
The Fellow will receive basic administrative and logistical support from Shansi during their Fellowship, but will be expected to shoulder primary responsibility for finding an appropriate host institution, negotiating the terms of their relationship, securing a valid visa, and finding housing. It will be critical that the applicant demonstrate their understanding of the needs and expectations of the host institution; this will be one of the major factors considered by the selection panel.
The Fellowship includes:
Pre-departure medical examination and immunizations
Intensive language study during the first summer of the Fellowship
International airfare to and from the proposed Fellowship country
An allowance for living expenses. (Stipend amounts will be determined in the second stage of the application process. Candidates will be expected to include a budget with their final proposals.)
Major medical and evacuation insurance during the Fellowship
A $1,500 grant for travel in Asia