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Jefferson Fellowships

The Jefferson Fellowships offer U.S. and Asia Pacific journalists an opportunity to broaden their understanding of Asia Pacific issues and build a professional network through a 3-week program of dialogue and travel organized around a special theme.

Program Background

2201 Jefferson Fellows interview U Win Tin, a founding member of the National League for Democracy, who spent 19 years in prison.Launched in 1967, the Jefferson Fellowships is the East-West Center’s oldest and most widely-recognized seminar program, with an illustrious alumni network of more than 500 Jefferson Fellows across the Asia Pacific region and the United States. The broad goal of the program is to to enhance public understanding through the news media of cultures, issues and trends in the Asia Pacific region, broadly defined as Asia, the Pacific Islands and the United States. Participation in the Jefferson Fellowships provides journalists not only with a life-changing international experience, valuable professional contacts, and life-long friendships with their colleagues in the program, but also access to the EWC’s international network of more than 1,000 media professionals and 50,000 alumni. Funding for the Jefferson Fellowships has been provided through a grant from the Freeman Foundation of Stowe, Vermont since 1999.

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See a list of all Jefferson_Fellowships_alumni since 1967.

The 2014 Jefferson Fellowships program

Theme: Challenges of Democratic Transition

Destinations: Honolulu, Hawaii; Jakarta and Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Yangon and Naypyidaw, Myanmar

Dates: February 22-March 16, 2014

The Arab Spring marked a wave of political transition and increased hope of a burgeoning new world order based on liberal democratic principles. However, roughly two-and-a-half years after the revolutions in the Arab world, not a single country is clearly on course to become a peaceful, stable and inclusive democracy: While elections are an essential component in democratic transitions, many other elements are also key: a system of checks and balances; rule of law and access to justice; a pluralistic party system; and a robust civil society that includes traditionally marginalized groups.

The 2014 Jefferson Fellowships program explored democratic transition and nation-building in two Asian countries at different stages of democratic transition: Indonesia and Myanmar. Indonesia ended 32 years of authoritarian rule by driving out President Suharto in 1998 following widespread protests and economic paralysis caused by the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The country has undergone meaningful democratic reform but challenges remain such as battling corruption, strengthening bureaucratic institutions, and ensuring judicial independence. Like Indonesia, Myanmar has turned away from decades of authoritarian rule and embarked upon a bold process of democratic transition, but Myanmar also faces challenges, including: formulating and administering new policies, rebuilding a moribund economy, and consolidating peace in ethnic areas.

Examining the experiences of Indonesia and Myanmar helped the Fellows to better understand the process of democratic transition and nation-building. They could then apply that knowledge to what is happening in the Middle East and other countries in various stages of this transition. In Indonesia and Myanmar, the Fellows looked specifically at efforts intended to improve transparency; decentralize power; ensure greater civilian rule over the military; foster a pluralistic party system; reduce economic inequality; strengthen the judiciary; redress past injustices; and advance democratic values of press freedom and citizen engagement. The Fellowship explored the historical struggles of ethnic and religious minorities through visits to Banda Aceh in Indonesia and dialogues with Myanmar's ethnic communities. In addition, the Fellowship considered how each country has engaged the U.S. and its Asia Pacific neighbors via political and economic ties and how this engagement has impacted democratic transition. Finally, Fellows each brought to the program the challenges their own countries faced regarding good governance and political transitions.

The Fellows also participated in the East-West Center’s 2014 International Media Conference in Yangon, which focused on “Challenges of a Free Press” through keynote speakers and panel discussions among the expected 300 media professionals from more than 25 countries. The conference looked at media challenges throughout the region, including older democracies like the United States, India and Korea and newer democracies like Pakistan, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Jefferson Fellowships are supported by a generous grant from The Freeman Foundation. The grant covers 10-12 Fellowships, approximately 4-5 for U.S. journalists and 7-8 for Asia Pacific journalists, which include economy class airfare to Honolulu, Hawaii, throughout the program and back to participant's home country from Yangon; program-related ground transportation, lodging, and meals; and a modest per diem to cover incidental expenses and meals not provided by the program. The Mary Morgan Hewett Fund in Honolulu provides one additional Fellowship, which will be awarded to a female journalist per the fund’s mission to support women in journalism in Asia Pacific and the US.

Participants are required to pay a $650 program fee that covers program expenses not included in the Freeman Foundation grant. Participants are also responsible for all applicable visa fees and any additional visa-related expenses. They also must purchase their own travel-related health insurance. It is hoped that the $650 program fee will be covered by journalists’ employers as a sign of their commitment to the applicant’s participation in the program and the value to the news organization.

Additional funding is provided by the U.S. Embassy Islamabad Public Affairs Section to sponsor two (2) Pakistani journalists. This funding covers all costs mentioned above as well as visa fees and the $650 program fee to the East-West Center. Participants are responsible for visa fees for all other countries and any additional visa-related expenses. All Pakistani journalists will be considered for this funding; there is no need to make a special request.

We ask all news organizations to support their employees’ participation by providing additional cost-sharing as much as possible. While financial assistance from the employer is not required, employers are strongly encouraged to provide cost-sharing as a demonstration of their commitment to the value of the program. An "Employer’s Statement of Support" is required for all applicants. Cost sharing by employers is a significant factor in the Selection Committee’s decision-making.

For full program information please download the Spring_2014_Jefferson_Fellowships_Announcement.pdf

Please also see this list of Frequently Asked Questions about eligibility, funding and the application process.

Congratulations to the 2014 Jefferson Fellows:

  • AHMADY, Freelance, Harian Rakyat Aceh, Medan, Indonesia
  • Frank M. DENTON, Editor, The Florida Times-Union and, Jacksonville, Florida, USA
  • Fatai FAINGA'A, Senior News Reporter and Presenter, Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC), Fasi-Moe-Afi, Tonga
  • Max FISHER, Foreign Affairs Blogger, The Washington Post, Washington DC, USA
  • Tzu Chiang HUANG, Deputy, Central News Agency (CNA), Taipei, Taiwan
  • Moayyed Ali JAFRI, Correspondent, The News International Daily, Lahore, Pakistan
  • Anupma KHANNA, Senior Feature Writer, The Pioneer, Dehradun, India
  • Hashmatullah KOHISTANI, News Manager, Bokhdi News Agency, Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Hein Min LATT, Senior Editor, Eleven Media Group, Yangon, Burma
  • Chang LIU, Senior Reporter, Global Times, Beijing, China
  • Saw Yan NAING, Senior Reporter, Irrawaddy Magazine, Yangon, Burma
  • Jena STURGIS, Line Producer, Shepard Smith Reporting, Fox News/21st Century Fox, New York City, New York, USA
  • Hannah TORREGOZA, Reporter, Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp, Manila, Philippines
  • Shakir ULLAH, Senior Producer, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, Islamabad, Pakista
  • Holly YAN, Newsdesk Editor, CNN, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Previous Programs: The 2013 Jefferson Fellowships program

Theme: New Leadership in Asia Pacific: Solving Old Problems, Managing New Realities

Dates: June 9-30, 2013

Destinations: Honolulu, Hawaii; Tokyo, Japan; Beijing, China; Yangon, Myanmar

2012 brought new leadership to China and Japan and important bi-elections in Myanmar that signaled a new democratic openness in the country’s on-going transition from military to civilian rule. President Xi Jinping assumed leadership of the Chinese Communist Party after 10 years under Hu Jintao; former LDP Prime Minister Abe Shinzo returned to power in Japan; and President Thein Sein in Myanmar called for dramatic economic, social and political reform that has brought market opportunities and changed the country’s role in the region. Leadership in these three countries face complex, long-standing economic and social challenges as well as the reality of new power dynamics within the region, particularly China’s rise.

The 2013 Jefferson Fellowships program focused on how much change and continuity may be expected from these new national leaders and others in business, government, and civil society who are in positions to influence economic, social and political developments. Participants spent one week in Honolulu for sessions with regional experts to examine US perspectives on new leadership and power shifts and the second Obama administration’s plans for reinvigorated engagement with the Asia-Pacific region. A visit to Tokyo explored the Abe administration's approaches to dealing with Japan’s entrenched economic and social difficulties—high budget deficits, deflation, an aging population and rigid labor structure—and reduced international standing. In Beijing, meetings with high level government officials and a wide range of source, provided insight into President Xi Jinping’s vision for economic restructuring and China’s role as a regional and global power, and examined other forces that are affecting change in China. The program concluded with an on-the-ground look at the historic political, economic and media reforms taking place in Myanmar. Myanmar’s leadership faces an influx of foreign investment, which holds the promise of jumpstarting the economy amid immense challenges of managing political and social change and nation building after decades of internal conflict.

Participants observed that in addition to domestic challenges, all three countries are grappling with the new realities of China’s rise. This power shift will require innovative thinking that is difficult in the face of domestic nationalism and established beliefs about the regional order. Territorial disputes between China and Japan have strained their bilateral relationship. Growing multinational interest in Myanmar, including improved relations with the United States, further shifts the status quo within the region. These regional challenges come as the Obama administration emphasizes its intention of “rebalancing” in the Asia Pacific region.

Spring 2013 Jefferson Fellows also had the unique opportunity to engage with Yangon's emerging media sector and provide professional training and regional perspectives to local journalists in this historic first ever visit to Myanmar in the 46 years of the Jefferson Fellowships program.

The 2013 Jefferson Fellows were:

Ms. Lillian Greenfield CUNNINGHAM, ‘On Leadership’ Editor and Feature Writer, The Washington Post, Washington, DC, United States
Mr. Anak Agung Gde Bagus Wahyu DHYATMIKA, Managing Editor, Tempo, Jakarta, Indonesia
Ms. Rosemarie FRANCISCO, Chief Correspondent, Manila, Thomson Reuters, Philippines
Ms. Del IRANI, Prime-time Presenter, Australia Network and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News, Australia
Ms. Beenish JAVED, Foreign Affairs and Political Reporter, ARY News, Islamabad, Pakistan
Ms. Talia KAYALI, Assignment Editor/Supervising Editor, International News Desk, CNN, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Mr. ZAYAR HLAING, Editor, Myanmar Observer Media Group, Yangon, Myanmar
Mr. Nyien Thaw HTOO
, Executive Editor, Today Publishing House, Ltd., Yangon, Myanmar
, Online US Editor, The Economist, Washington, DC, United States
Mrs. Emily Tomoko PERSCHBACHER, Editor, Source, National and Foreign Desk, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Mr. Abdul QAHAR, Resident Editor, Daily Aeen, and contributing writer to the Daily Times and Friday Times, Islamabad, Pakistan
Mr. Xuan QIN, Reporter, Southern Weekly (Beijing Bureau), Beijing, China
Mr. Aaron SCHACHTER, Assignment Editor, Public Radio International’s The World, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Mr. Atul SETHI, Assistant Editor, The Times of India, New Delhi, India
Ms. Andrea Helen VANCE, Political Reporter, Fairfax Media NZ, Wellington, New Zealand
Mr. Kenichi YAMAMOTO, Staff Writer, Associate Editor of Foreign News Section, The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan

For information on the 2012 Jefferson Fellowship program, click here.

Program Coordinator and Contacts:

Ann Hartman
Jefferson Fellowships Coordinator
Phone: 808-944-7619
Fax: 808-944-7600
Jefferson Fellowships
East-West Seminars
East-West Center
1601 East-West Road
Honolulu, Hawai'i  96848-1601, U.S.A.

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