Jefferson Fellowships

The Jefferson Fellowships offer print and broadcast journalists from the United States, Asia and the Pacific Islands the unique opportunity to gain on-the-ground perspectives and build international networks to enhance their reporting through an intensive one-week education and dialogue seminar at the East-West Center in Honolulu followed by a two week reporting tour in the Asia Pacific-U.S. region.

Program Background

Jefferson Fellows interview U Win Tin, a founding member of the National League for Democracy, who spent 19 years in prison.The Jefferson Fellowships is the East-West Center’s most widely-recognized and established seminar program, with an illustrious alumni network of more than 600 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. Participation in the Jefferson Fellowships provides journalists with an opportunity to report from cities across the Asia Pacific on key issues and developments taking place, sharing with audiences first-hand perspectives and new insights. The program provides a unique combination of study-dialogue at the East-West Center with a reporting trip taken with colleagues from countries across the region. This provides journalists with enhanced knowledge of the most important regional issues, reporting imbued with perspectives from journalists from 10 different countries, valuable professional contacts, and life-long friendships with their colleagues in the program. They also gain access to the EWC’s international network of more than 1,000 media professionals and 50,000 alumni. The program is made possible through a generous grant from The Freeman Foundation of Stowe Vermont and supplemented by contributions from news organizations, US Embassies in Asia Pacific, other foundations and the East-West Center.

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The 2015 Jefferson Fellowships program took place May 2-23. Fifteen journalists from 12 different countries explored the conflict in the South China Sea with travel to Beijing and Hainan Island in China, Manila and Masinloc in the Philippines, and Singapore. Please see below for a write up of the program.

The 2016 Jefferson Fellowships program

Theme:  The Future of Growth in Asia Pacific

Destinations: Honolulu, Hawaii; Beijing & Guiyang, China; Fukuoka, Kitakyushu and Tokyo, Japan

Dates: April 30-May 22, 2016

Over the past half century, the Asia-Pacific region has been in the forefront of global growth. But now the longer-term economic future of the region appears increasingly uncertain. Each country faces a somewhat different set of challenges, but many share concerns about aging societies, increased labor costs and a loss of competitive advantage, reduced overseas demand, a need for broader prosperity, and serious resource and environmental problems. With these challenges and the imperative of climate change, new models will be needed for growth in the 21st century.

The 2016 Jefferson Fellowships will focus on Asia’s search for new, more sustainable growth models through sessions with experts and one another in Honolulu and by exploring economic challenges and restructuring in Japan and China. As the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest economies, the success of China and Japan in finding new models will have wide reaching impacts. After decades of rapid growth, China’s overall growth is falling, internal debt is rising and China fears falling into the middle income trap, getting old before it gets rich. In Beijing, journalists will explore China’s efforts to maintain its growth as it shifts to a new model based more on domestic demand versus government investment, higher value-added manufacturing and innovation, and a dynamic service sector, while also addressing dire environmental degradation and the need for a broader distribution of wealth. A visit to Guiyang, the capital of one of China’s poorest inland provinces but the second fastest growing province in 2015, will illustrate both the challenges as well as opportunities for new growth in China. A new high speed rail line just arrived as part of the “One Belt, One Road” strategy and it is becoming a hub for cloud computing, alternative financing and big data.

In Japan, the economy has been in near stagnation for 20 years. It also is in the vanguard of population aging with the world’s oldest society. Meetings with officials, analysts and business leaders in Tokyo will explore Prime Minister Abe’s monetary, fiscal, and structural reform measures intended to boost the economy out of persistent deflation. Visits in Tokyo and travel to Fukuoka-Kitakyushu will highlight some areas of focus for these reforms--promoting efficiency, greater female and elder labor market participation, investments in innovative robotics, advancements in elder care, and rural and regional revitalization. Fukuoka City has been designated as a National Strategic Special Zone for Global Startups & Job Creation and is considered one of Japan's most liveable and welcoming cities. It's achievements provide a chance to see firsthand how Abenomics is progressing outside of Tokyo.  Kitakyushu, a formerly polluted steel-producing region that transformed itself, was designated an “eco-model city” as part of the federal government’s initiatives to commercialize and share technology and know-how for environmentally sustainable growth across Asia. Discussions throughout the program will include the role of the region’s international relations and tensions; the TransPacific Partnership (TPP); and regional integration and investment measures such as China’s “One Belt, One Road” and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).


The Jefferson Fellowships are supported by a grant from The Freeman Foundation and by the East-West Center.

These funds provide for 10-13 full or partial scholarships, including approximately 4-5 for qualified American journalists and 7-8 for Asia Pacific journalists.

Congratulations to the 2016 Jefferson Fellows:

  • Mr. Syed Asif ALI, Assistant Editor, The News International, Karachi, Pakistan
  • Ms. Bethany ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN, Assistant Editor, Foreign Policy Magazine, Washington, DC, USA
  • Ms. Azadeh ANSARI, International News Editor, CNN International, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • Mr. Nishant DAHIYA, Asia Editor, National Public Radio, Washington, DC, USA
  • Mr. Carter DOUGHERTY, Senior International Economics Writer, International Business Times, New York City, New York, USA
  • Mr. Nirmal GHOSH, Indochina Bureau Chief, The Straits Times, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Ms. Samantha HAYES, Senior Presenter and Reporter, Newshub, Mediaworks Ltd (TV3), Auckland, New Zealand
  • Ms. Sheradyn HOLDERHEAD, Political Reporter, News Corp Australia – The Advertiser and Sunday Mail, Adelaide, Australia
  • Mr. Yophiandi KURNIAWAN, News Producer, Kompas TV, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Ms. Kwangyin LIU, Senior Reporter, CommonWealth Magazine, Taipei City, Taiwan
  • Mr. Ishkandar RAZAK, Journalist, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Melbourne, Australia
  • Ms. Xiaojing XING, Chief Correspondent, Global Times, Beijing, China
  • Mrs. Helen TARAWA-REI, Senior Journalist/Reporter, The National Newspaper, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  • Mr. Pradeep THAKUR, Senior Assistant Editor, The Times of India, New Delhi, India

The 2015 Jefferson Fellowships program

Theme:  The South China Sea: Trade, Resources and Conflict

Destinations: Honolulu, Hawaii; Beijing and Hainan Island, China; Manila and Masinloc, Philippines; and Singapore

Dates: May 2-23, 2015

The seas are vitally important to the Asia Pacific region. Countries in the region are heavily dependent on international trade and imported energy, the bulk of which travel by sea. They are the source of much of the protein in the diets of many countries in the region, a demand that is increasing as middle classes grow. They have potentially valuable energy and mineral resources. The South China Sea is one of the world’s most heavily used transit corridors and is the key route for trade as well as the imported energy fueling regional economies. It is estimated that roughly half a billion people live within 100 miles of the coasts of the South China Sea and the seas are potentially rich in fishing and hydrocarbon resources. There have long been disputes over sovereignty, overlapping exclusive economic zones and competing claims, but these tensions have heightened in recent years, creating conflict and an urgent need for regional coordination in the seas. These tensions can hinder needed cooperation on other critical challenges of sustainable management of sea-based resources, protecting the environment, combating criminal activities such as poaching and piracy, and ensuring the stable and efficient freedom of navigation that plays a key role in Asia’s growth and prosperity.

From top: journalists attended a rountable discussion hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China; and a forum on the South China Sea hosted by the Philippine goverment, Manila, Philippines

From top: journalists met with fishermen from China and the Philippines; shipping, Singapore Strait

The 2015 Jefferson Fellowships provided journalists with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of these complex issues including the role that oceans play in the prosperity and security of Asia Pacific countries, the legal frameworks that govern the use of the seas, the roles of various countries and organizations in enforcing these rules, the disputes over ownership of maritime territory in the South China Sea and the prospects for the way forward. In Honolulu journalists learned about these issues and the role of the United States from regional experts, US military officials, and presentations by one another. Travel to China and the Philippines provided first hand perspectives from two of the key claimants in South China Sea disputes who are at the center of the first case brought for international arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. Visits to the capital cities as well as local communities bordering the South China Sea explored the importance of the seas to both countries—one a continental rising global power and the other a developing island nation. In Singapore, participants explored the business of trade by sea in a city-state highly dependent on maritime transshipment for its prosperity and one of the gateways to the Malacca Strait, through which almost 50,000 ships carrying half the world's trade and one-third of global oil pass each year. Singapore also offered an opportunity to explore strategies and scenarios for regional cooperation in managing territorial disputes as well as efforts to mitigate piracy and manage congestion in these vital shipping lanes.


The Jefferson Fellowships are supported by a grant from The Freeman Foundation and by the East-West Center. The 2015 program was also generously supported by grant funding from the US Embassy Bangkok, US Embassy Canberra, US Embassy Hanoi, and the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The 2015 Jefferson Fellows were:

  • Ms. Qin CHEN, Reporter, Caixin Media, Beijing, China
  • Dr. Rungthip CHOTNAPALAI, News Anchor/Producer, Thai Television Channel 3, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Mr. William ENGLUND, Assistant Foreign Editor, Washington Post, Washington, DC, United States
  • Mr. Jim GOMEZ, Chief Correspondent, Associated Press, Manila, Philippines
  • Mr. Takuya HIRAGA, Reporter, The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan
  • Mrs. Huong HOANG, Editor, VietNamNet Newspaper, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Ms. Shu-ling KO, Reporter, Kyodo News, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Ms. Gretel C. KOVACH, Military Affairs Reporter, U-T San Diego, San Diego, California, United States
  • Ms. Susan LANNIN, Business Journalist, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Ultimo, Australia
  • Mr. Siddhartha MAHANTA, Assistant Editor, Foreign Policy, Washington, DC, United States
  • Mr. Sachin PARASHAR, Assistant Editor – Strategic Affairs, The Times of India, Delhi, India
  • Ms. Ellen READ, National Business Editor, Fairfax Media (NZ), Auckland, New Zealand
  • Mr. Ravi VELLOOR, Associate Editor, The Straits Times, Singapore
  • Ms. Tracy WHOLF, Associate Producer, WNET/PBS NewsHour Weekend, New York, New York, United States
  • Mr. Fitriyan ZAMZAMI, Masrum, Editor/Journalist, Republika Daily Newspaper, Jakarta Selatan, Indonesia

For information on the 2014 Jefferson Fellowship program, click here.

For information on the 2013 Jefferson Fellowship program, click here.

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

Contact Information
Ann Hartman
Seminar Specialist, Seminars
East-West Center
1601 East West Road
Honolulu, HI  96848-1601  USA
Phone: (808) 944-7619
Fax: (808) 944-7600