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Professional Development Professional Development
Frequently-Asked Questions: Pacific Islands Leadership Program Frequently-Asked Questions: Pacific Islands Leadership Program

How do I apply for PILP?

Application Requirements

Q. What do I need to submit with my application?
First, review all of the instructions on www.eastwestcenter.org/pilp for an overview of the program and understanding of the application process. Applications can be submitted online via the online application system. The following items are needed to complete your application:

  • Pacific Islands Leadership Program Application form 
  • Cover Letter (see the application checklist for the required questions)
  • Question (see the application checklist for the questions)
  • Curriculum Vitae (resume)
  • Two (2) Letters of Reference, submitted by the Reference Author via the "Submittable" platform or directly to [email protected] [NOTE: Reference letters submitted by the applicant will not be added to the online application]
  • Optional but highlighly recommended, a 1-minute Self-Introduction video
  • If available, Official Transcript from each higher educational institution attended (in an envelope sealed by the school). A photocopy will be acceptable during the review phase.
  • If available, English language test score report (for example, IELTS or TOEFL). A photocopy will be acceptable during the review phase.

Q. How do I submit an application?

Applications should be completed via the online application system.

Q. I've tried to access the online application but my internet connection is too slow. How can I submit an application?

Please email [email protected] to notifiy staff of this issue. A staff member will work with you to resolve the issue. 

Q. Can I submit my application to the local Taiwan Mission or Embassy?

No.  All applications must be submitted to the East-West Center via online submission. 

Q. I have reviewed the application materials on the website, and would like to submit an application.  Do I need to submit everything together?

If you are submitting your application online, you must complete the online application before the 1 February 2022 deadline. You can save your application at any time but until you hit the submit button, the EWC staff will not be able to view your application. Your referees will be notified by Submittable to complete their Letter of Reference by 8 February 2022. 

You should not wait until 1 February 2022 to submit your online application. Many applicants wait until the deadline to submit their applications and find that their internet access is slow due to high volume of users on the Submittable website. In case of internet issues, please submit your application well before the deadline.

Q.  Can I submit a Letter of Reference for the author of the letter?

No.  Letters of Reference submitted by the applicant will not be accepted.  If you submit an online application, your referees will receive an email and direct link to upload their Letter of Reference and business card. If your referee is having issues sending their Letter of Reference to your Submittable application, they can email the Letter of Reference and business card directly to [email protected]

Q. The author of my Letter of Reference does not have a business card.  Is the business card necessary?

If the author of your Letter of Reference form does not have a business card, they can submit the form via email from their work email address.  If their place of employment has a stamp, they can stamp the form by their signature.

Q. I applied for the PILP Fellowship in the past but was not selected.  Do I need to submit an application to be considered for the 2022 PILP Fellowship?

Yes.  Due to changes in the application process and the application materials, as well as the program itself, anyone who would like to be considered for the 2022 PILP Fellowship will need to submit a new online application.

Q.  Can an organization nominate an applicant for the program?

An organization can nominate an applicant but the applicant must submit their application online.  We will not accept applications submitted by an organization on behalf of their applicant.

Q. I see that the deadline is February 1, 2022.  What if I miss the deadline? 

Applications received by February 1, 2022 will receive full consideration.  Applications received thereafter may be considered on a space-available basis at the discretion of the selection committee, but are generally not accepted.  Incomplete applications will be not reviewed.

Q. I will not be able to apply for the program this year.  Is this the only year the program will be offered, or will it be offered again in the future?
This is the eighth year of the program.  Due to COVID-19, the 2020 program was postponed until 2021. Under the current grant cycle, PILP will be offered annually until 2023 for a total of ten years or ten cohorts of participants.

Eligibility Criteria

Q. Who is eligible and what are the eligible countries? 
The Pacific Island Leadership Program (PILP) is intended for individuals from the following countries in the Pacific Islands region: Citizens of the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Fiji, French Polynesia, Republic of Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Independent State of Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are eligible to apply.

Q. I was born in the Pacific Islands and grew up there, but now I am a U.S. citizen and live in the U.S. Am I eligible for PILP?
U.S. citizens are not eligible for PILP; however, the East-West Center offers a leadership program that is open to U.S. citizens, called the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP). To learn more about this program, please visit http://www.eastwestcenter.org/APLP. Once you review the website, if you have questions, please write to:  [email protected].  

Q. Am I eligible to apply for PILP if I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and one of the Pacific Island countries listed in the PILP application materials?
If you have dual citizenship in both the U.S. and a Pacific Island country, your current country of residency is the determining factor regarding eligibility. If your residency is in a Pacific Island country, you are eligible for consideration for PILP.  If your residency is in the U.S., you are not eligible for consideration for PILP. Alternatively, as a dual citizen, you are eligible to apply to the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, irrespective of your residency status. Please visit http://www.eastwestcenter.org/APLP for more information. 

Q. Is there a work experience requirement?
The program is seeking individuals with a minimum of three (3) years of significant work experience, and who are committed to a career in the Pacific Islands region. 

Q. Is there an education level qualification?
Applicants will normally have a Bachelor’s degree; exceptions may be considered on the basis of other relevant experience and qualifications, as well as leadership achievements.

Q. Are there any age criteria?
The program is intended to build a network of emerging and established leaders and is aimed at early- to mid-career professionals, spanning the ages of approximately 25-38. 

Q. I am older than 38.  Can I still apply for the program?

The program is aimed at early- to mid-career professionals, spanning the ages of approximately 25-38.  This does not mean that an older candidate would not be considered – on the contrary, we encourage all mid-career professionals from all professional backgrounds (government, business, environment, NGOs, health, media, agriculture, education and others) to apply.  The PILP Selection Committee takes a holistic view of each candidate when reviewing an application.  Age is just one factor involved in deciding whether or not a candidate is qualified and would benefit from the program.

Q.  Are there any additional qualifications?
Desirable qualifications include:

  • Leadership track record in professional, public, and/or personal realms
  • International experience and aptitude, including overseas residence, language skills, intercultural and diversity exposure
  • Volunteer and community service experience
  • Pacific Island region engagement: evidence of significant interest in and knowledge of the region, as well as commitment to its future prosperity. This might include employment in the region, classes taken at University, languages spoken, memberships and fellowships, specific projects, field studies, and areas of research interest
  • Experience of cohort learning, working collaboratively in small teams or in large groups, leadership track record in professional, public and/or personal realms; volunteer and community service experience

I've submitted an application, what happens next?

Selection Process

Q. I've received an interview invitation from the East-West Center, but already completed an interview with the Taiwan Mission.  Is this necessary?

Yes.  The East-West Center conducts interviews in the final phase of the selection process to learn more about the applicant's interest in the program, how they think they will benefit from the program, and how they will contribute to the program as well as their community after returning home.  The EWC must also verify an applicant's English language comprehension for purposes of the U.S. J-1 visa.  Applicants must be able to understand the terms and conditions of the U.S. visa.

Q. I've received an interview invitation from the East-West Center, but the interview dates and times are in Hawaii Standard Time (HST).  How do I know what day and time my interview is in my country?

You can convert the dates and times from Hawaii Standard Time to your time zone by clicking here

Decision Letters

Q. When will I learn if I am accepted into the program?

Applicants will be notified by June 1, 2022 about the results.

Q. How are the decision letters sent to applicants?

Applicants will receive a decision letter via email from Submittable or the official [email protected] email account.

What can I expect during the program?

Program Expectations

Q. What does the program expect of its' participants?

  • PILP is an intensive leadership development experience in both Hawaii and Taiwan.  It is not similar to undergraduate or graduate work at university, but is more like a full-time job.
  • Participants are discouraged from engaging in work for their organizations or any outside projects due to the intensive nature of the program.
  • Attendance in every session in mandatory.
  • By accepting placement in the program, participants are committing to fully engage in and complete all sessions in Hawaii, Taiwan, and the Leadership Retreat.

Q. In what language will the program be conducted?

PILP will be conducted in English.  Participants will be expected to have English language fluency.

Q. Is there a dress code for the program?

In Hawaii, the dress code for participants is business casual but occasionally there are events, presentations, or site visits that may require more formal attire, such as a full business suit. During the Taiwan phase, there are events and presentations that will require business attire.

Q. I have family/work obligations before the program begins.  Can I arrive after September 26, 2022?

No. Due to the intensive nature of the program, participants must arrive before the start of the program (Monday, September 26, 2022).  Orientation activities are setup for arrival day and the weekend.

Q. Can I depart the program early?

No. If you accept placement in the program, you must complete all three phases of the program.  If you cannot do this, you should decline your placement in PILP and reapply in the future.

What are the provisions of the program?

Financial Questions

Q. Is financial assistance available for PILP fellows?
All PILP participants are granted a generous fellowship.  The PILP fellowship offers the following provisions:

  • Airfare between home country and Honolulu
  • Airfare between Honolulu and Taipei
  • Airfare between Taipei and home country
  • Tuition and course materials
  • Residence room costs
  • Health insurance
  • Living stipend during the ten-week program 

Q. What is the monthly stipend amount for a PILP participant?
The stipend during PILP in Hawaii for four weeks is approximately US $980 in total to assist with meals and incidental expenses. If there are program sponsored meals, this cost will be automatically deducted from your stipend, so the amount you actually receive will be less than $980.  The stipend in Taiwan for 6 weeks is approximately US $680 in total, as living expenses are cheaper in Taiwan. (Note: Your housing costs at the EWC and in Taiwan will be paid for by the program, and do not come out of your stipend.) 

Q. Are there provisions for my family?
No.  The PILP fellowship does not cover provisions for family.  The stipend is set at a level to cover the cost of meals and incidental expenses for the participant only during the program. 

Q. Can I bring my family with me?
Due to the intensive nature of the PILP experience, extensive travel and living accommodations for one person only, we regret that we cannot sponsor or invite spouses and/or children to join the participant during PILP.The PILP Fellowship is strictly an unaccompanied program.

Q. Can I work during the PILP?
No.  Due to the intensive nature of the PILP experience in both Hawaii and Taiwan, as well as extensive travel, it is not possible for participants to engage in any outside work or additional courses during PILP.

Visa and Travel

Q. Do I need a passport?
Yes.  A valid passport is required for all participants to enter the U.S. and Taiwan.  As a general rule, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the ending date of the program.  (This means your passport should be valid until June 2023.)  If you are accepted into the program and do not have a passport, please apply for one immediately as this process takes time.

Q. Must I enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa?
Participants from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are expected to enter the U.S. under the J-1 (exchange visitor) visa sponsorship of the East-West Center. The Center will provide the necessary documents for the J-1 visa application.  Application for a J-1 visa is made at the US Embassy.  If not available in the participant’s home country, visa arrangements will be made at the U.S. embassy that has jurisdiction for the participant’s country.

Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau do not require a visa to enter the U.S.

Q. How do I arrange my visa for travel to Taiwan?
The East-West Center will assist with the Taiwan visa applications and travel arrangements once the participants are in Honolulu, working through the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) located in the city. Do not apply for the Taiwan visa in your home country, please wait until you are in Honolulu and we will do it for you.

Q. I went to the Taiwan Mission/Embassy in my country and was told I do not need a visa.  Can I disregard the Taiwan visa application?

No.  You must still apply for a Taiwan visa.  The waiver program is only for a tourist visa.  Since you are being sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Institute for Diplomacy and International Affairs program, you cannot enter on a tourist visa.

Q. If accepted into the program, do I make my own travel arrangements to and from Honolulu?
No.  The East-West Center will coordinate your travel between your home country and Honolulu, travel between Honolulu and Taiwan, and travel between Taiwan and your home country.

If you have questions not covered by this FAQ, please contact [email protected]. Thank you for your interest in the Pacific Islands Leadership Program. 

How do I apply for PILP?

Application Requirements

Q. What do I need to submit with my application?
First, review all of the instructions on www.eastwestcenter.org/pilp for an overview of the program and understanding of the application process. Applications can be submitted online via the online application system. The following items are needed to complete your application:

  • Pacific Islands Leadership Program Application form 
  • Cover Letter (see the application checklist for the required questions)
  • Question (see the application checklist for the questions)
  • Curriculum Vitae (resume)
  • Two (2) Letters of Reference, submitted by the Reference Author via the "Submittable" platform or directly to [email protected] [NOTE: Reference letters submitted by the applicant will not be added to the online application]
  • Optional but highlighly recommended, a 1-minute Self-Introduction video
  • If available, Official Transcript from each higher educational institution attended (in an envelope sealed by the school). A photocopy will be acceptable during the review phase.
  • If available, English language test score report (for example, IELTS or TOEFL). A photocopy will be acceptable during the review phase.

Q. How do I submit an application?

Applications should be completed via the online application system.

Q. I've tried to access the online application but my internet connection is too slow. How can I submit an application?

Please email [email protected] to notifiy staff of this issue. A staff member will work with you to resolve the issue. 

Q. Can I submit my application to the local Taiwan Mission or Embassy?

No.  All applications must be submitted to the East-West Center via online submission. 

Q. I have reviewed the application materials on the website, and would like to submit an application.  Do I need to submit everything together?

If you are submitting your application online, you must complete the online application before the 1 February 2022 deadline. You can save your application at any time but until you hit the submit button, the EWC staff will not be able to view your application. Your referees will be notified by Submittable to complete their Letter of Reference by 8 February 2022. 

You should not wait until 1 February 2022 to submit your online application. Many applicants wait until the deadline to submit their applications and find that their internet access is slow due to high volume of users on the Submittable website. In case of internet issues, please submit your application well before the deadline.

Q.  Can I submit a Letter of Reference for the author of the letter?

No.  Letters of Reference submitted by the applicant will not be accepted.  If you submit an online application, your referees will receive an email and direct link to upload their Letter of Reference and business card. If your referee is having issues sending their Letter of Reference to your Submittable application, they can email the Letter of Reference and business card directly to [email protected]

Q. The author of my Letter of Reference does not have a business card.  Is the business card necessary?

If the author of your Letter of Reference form does not have a business card, they can submit the form via email from their work email address.  If their place of employment has a stamp, they can stamp the form by their signature.

Q. I applied for the PILP Fellowship in the past but was not selected.  Do I need to submit an application to be considered for the 2022 PILP Fellowship?

Yes.  Due to changes in the application process and the application materials, as well as the program itself, anyone who would like to be considered for the 2022 PILP Fellowship will need to submit a new online application.

Q.  Can an organization nominate an applicant for the program?

An organization can nominate an applicant but the applicant must submit their application online.  We will not accept applications submitted by an organization on behalf of their applicant.

Q. I see that the deadline is February 1, 2022.  What if I miss the deadline? 

Applications received by February 1, 2022 will receive full consideration.  Applications received thereafter may be considered on a space-available basis at the discretion of the selection committee, but are generally not accepted.  Incomplete applications will be not reviewed.

Q. I will not be able to apply for the program this year.  Is this the only year the program will be offered, or will it be offered again in the future?
This is the eighth year of the program.  Due to COVID-19, the 2020 program was postponed until 2021. Under the current grant cycle, PILP will be offered annually until 2023 for a total of ten years or ten cohorts of participants.

Eligibility Criteria

Q. Who is eligible and what are the eligible countries? 
The Pacific Island Leadership Program (PILP) is intended for individuals from the following countries in the Pacific Islands region: Citizens of the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Fiji, French Polynesia, Republic of Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Independent State of Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are eligible to apply.

Q. I was born in the Pacific Islands and grew up there, but now I am a U.S. citizen and live in the U.S. Am I eligible for PILP?
U.S. citizens are not eligible for PILP; however, the East-West Center offers a leadership program that is open to U.S. citizens, called the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP). To learn more about this program, please visit http://www.eastwestcenter.org/APLP. Once you review the website, if you have questions, please write to:  [email protected].  

Q. Am I eligible to apply for PILP if I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and one of the Pacific Island countries listed in the PILP application materials?
If you have dual citizenship in both the U.S. and a Pacific Island country, your current country of residency is the determining factor regarding eligibility. If your residency is in a Pacific Island country, you are eligible for consideration for PILP.  If your residency is in the U.S., you are not eligible for consideration for PILP. Alternatively, as a dual citizen, you are eligible to apply to the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, irrespective of your residency status. Please visit http://www.eastwestcenter.org/APLP for more information. 

Q. Is there a work experience requirement?
The program is seeking individuals with a minimum of three (3) years of significant work experience, and who are committed to a career in the Pacific Islands region. 

Q. Is there an education level qualification?
Applicants will normally have a Bachelor’s degree; exceptions may be considered on the basis of other relevant experience and qualifications, as well as leadership achievements.

Q. Are there any age criteria?
The program is intended to build a network of emerging and established leaders and is aimed at early- to mid-career professionals, spanning the ages of approximately 25-38. 

Q. I am older than 38.  Can I still apply for the program?

The program is aimed at early- to mid-career professionals, spanning the ages of approximately 25-38.  This does not mean that an older candidate would not be considered – on the contrary, we encourage all mid-career professionals from all professional backgrounds (government, business, environment, NGOs, health, media, agriculture, education and others) to apply.  The PILP Selection Committee takes a holistic view of each candidate when reviewing an application.  Age is just one factor involved in deciding whether or not a candidate is qualified and would benefit from the program.

Q.  Are there any additional qualifications?
Desirable qualifications include:

  • Leadership track record in professional, public, and/or personal realms
  • International experience and aptitude, including overseas residence, language skills, intercultural and diversity exposure
  • Volunteer and community service experience
  • Pacific Island region engagement: evidence of significant interest in and knowledge of the region, as well as commitment to its future prosperity. This might include employment in the region, classes taken at University, languages spoken, memberships and fellowships, specific projects, field studies, and areas of research interest
  • Experience of cohort learning, working collaboratively in small teams or in large groups, leadership track record in professional, public and/or personal realms; volunteer and community service experience

I've submitted an application, what happens next?

Selection Process

Q. I've received an interview invitation from the East-West Center, but already completed an interview with the Taiwan Mission.  Is this necessary?

Yes.  The East-West Center conducts interviews in the final phase of the selection process to learn more about the applicant's interest in the program, how they think they will benefit from the program, and how they will contribute to the program as well as their community after returning home.  The EWC must also verify an applicant's English language comprehension for purposes of the U.S. J-1 visa.  Applicants must be able to understand the terms and conditions of the U.S. visa.

Q. I've received an interview invitation from the East-West Center, but the interview dates and times are in Hawaii Standard Time (HST).  How do I know what day and time my interview is in my country?

You can convert the dates and times from Hawaii Standard Time to your time zone by clicking here

Decision Letters

Q. When will I learn if I am accepted into the program?

Applicants will be notified by June 1, 2022 about the results.

Q. How are the decision letters sent to applicants?

Applicants will receive a decision letter via email from Submittable or the official [email protected] email account.

What can I expect during the program?

Program Expectations

Q. What does the program expect of its' participants?

  • PILP is an intensive leadership development experience in both Hawaii and Taiwan.  It is not similar to undergraduate or graduate work at university, but is more like a full-time job.
  • Participants are discouraged from engaging in work for their organizations or any outside projects due to the intensive nature of the program.
  • Attendance in every session in mandatory.
  • By accepting placement in the program, participants are committing to fully engage in and complete all sessions in Hawaii, Taiwan, and the Leadership Retreat.

Q. In what language will the program be conducted?

PILP will be conducted in English.  Participants will be expected to have English language fluency.

Q. Is there a dress code for the program?

In Hawaii, the dress code for participants is business casual but occasionally there are events, presentations, or site visits that may require more formal attire, such as a full business suit. During the Taiwan phase, there are events and presentations that will require business attire.

Q. I have family/work obligations before the program begins.  Can I arrive after September 26, 2022?

No. Due to the intensive nature of the program, participants must arrive before the start of the program (Monday, September 26, 2022).  Orientation activities are setup for arrival day and the weekend.

Q. Can I depart the program early?

No. If you accept placement in the program, you must complete all three phases of the program.  If you cannot do this, you should decline your placement in PILP and reapply in the future.

What are the provisions of the program?

Financial Questions

Q. Is financial assistance available for PILP fellows?
All PILP participants are granted a generous fellowship.  The PILP fellowship offers the following provisions:

  • Airfare between home country and Honolulu
  • Airfare between Honolulu and Taipei
  • Airfare between Taipei and home country
  • Tuition and course materials
  • Residence room costs
  • Health insurance
  • Living stipend during the ten-week program 

Q. What is the monthly stipend amount for a PILP participant?
The stipend during PILP in Hawaii for four weeks is approximately US $980 in total to assist with meals and incidental expenses. If there are program sponsored meals, this cost will be automatically deducted from your stipend, so the amount you actually receive will be less than $980.  The stipend in Taiwan for 6 weeks is approximately US $680 in total, as living expenses are cheaper in Taiwan. (Note: Your housing costs at the EWC and in Taiwan will be paid for by the program, and do not come out of your stipend.) 

Q. Are there provisions for my family?
No.  The PILP fellowship does not cover provisions for family.  The stipend is set at a level to cover the cost of meals and incidental expenses for the participant only during the program. 

Q. Can I bring my family with me?
Due to the intensive nature of the PILP experience, extensive travel and living accommodations for one person only, we regret that we cannot sponsor or invite spouses and/or children to join the participant during PILP.The PILP Fellowship is strictly an unaccompanied program.

Q. Can I work during the PILP?
No.  Due to the intensive nature of the PILP experience in both Hawaii and Taiwan, as well as extensive travel, it is not possible for participants to engage in any outside work or additional courses during PILP.

Visa and Travel

Q. Do I need a passport?
Yes.  A valid passport is required for all participants to enter the U.S. and Taiwan.  As a general rule, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the ending date of the program.  (This means your passport should be valid until June 2023.)  If you are accepted into the program and do not have a passport, please apply for one immediately as this process takes time.

Q. Must I enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa?
Participants from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are expected to enter the U.S. under the J-1 (exchange visitor) visa sponsorship of the East-West Center. The Center will provide the necessary documents for the J-1 visa application.  Application for a J-1 visa is made at the US Embassy.  If not available in the participant’s home country, visa arrangements will be made at the U.S. embassy that has jurisdiction for the participant’s country.

Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau do not require a visa to enter the U.S.

Q. How do I arrange my visa for travel to Taiwan?
The East-West Center will assist with the Taiwan visa applications and travel arrangements once the participants are in Honolulu, working through the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) located in the city. Do not apply for the Taiwan visa in your home country, please wait until you are in Honolulu and we will do it for you.

Q. I went to the Taiwan Mission/Embassy in my country and was told I do not need a visa.  Can I disregard the Taiwan visa application?

No.  You must still apply for a Taiwan visa.  The waiver program is only for a tourist visa.  Since you are being sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Institute for Diplomacy and International Affairs program, you cannot enter on a tourist visa.

Q. If accepted into the program, do I make my own travel arrangements to and from Honolulu?
No.  The East-West Center will coordinate your travel between your home country and Honolulu, travel between Honolulu and Taiwan, and travel between Taiwan and your home country.

If you have questions not covered by this FAQ, please contact [email protected]. Thank you for your interest in the Pacific Islands Leadership Program.