Suan Mai Lao

Eco-Forest Learning Center, Holistic Education, and Youth Development

Economic Empowerment Fellows

U.S. Exchange Opportunity for Professionals Working in Economic Empowerment

The University of Montana, together with PADETC Suan Mai Lao and the sponsorship of the U.S. Embassy, is seeking professionals working in economic development or business to participate in a professional development exchange program with the United States. This program specifically seeks out applicants who seek to generate economic growth in their communities, with the objective of increasing incomes and reducing poverty. Professionals in business, non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and education are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be able to communicate in English and be interested in establishing international partnerships. 

To receive the application materials, please send an email entitled, APPLICATION REQUEST to

Program Summary

PADETC Suan Mai Lao and the Mansfield Center of The University of Montana seeks professional applicants for a program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy.  The Economic Empowerment Program focuses on expanding economic opportunity to broader society, with the goals of increasing incomes and reducing poverty. Participants will represent business, non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and educational institutions.

During the five-week program in the United States, participants will gain firsthand knowledge of how organizations and institutions generate employment and economic activity, while also participating in site visits and specially-designed seminars.  An important part of the program is a fellowship.  Participants will be matched with a similar organization in Montana and work with an American counterpart for two-to-three weeks.  As a result, participants will spend approximately one month in the state of Montana and one week in Washington, D.C.

Lao participants will also be asked to host a U.S. participant at their place of work. This individual will be your fellowship partner during your U.S. stay. These same American participants will travel overseas to engage with you and your counterparts on economic and business-related issues in your country.

Program Objectives

The primary goal of the program is to build economic opportunity from the ground up by supporting participants in their efforts to broaden opportunity and ensure that the benefits of growth and trade are widely distributed.  Specific program objectives are:

  • Promote mutual understanding and lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships between key professionals and organizations in the U.S. and Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Provide 20 foreign participants an opportunity to gain knowledge of U.S. practices and techniques in the field of economic empowerment; explore governance principles and practices; and gain a deeper understanding of U.S. society, culture, and people.
  • Provide 20 U.S. participants the opportunity to share their professional expertise with foreign counterparts and gain a deeper understanding of professional practices, societies, and cultures in other countries.

Other Essential Program Information

Program Funding:  The United States government will cover all participant costs, including international travel; travel and ground transportation in the U.S.; meals; lodging; and cultural allowances. Care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.

While you will be asked to host U.S. participants at your place of work, the program for the Americans will be at no expense to you or your organization.  American participants will be provided all funds for hotels, meals and transportation.

Health Insurance:  All participants will receive the U.S. Department of State’s health coverage.  Pre-existing conditions are not covered.

Program Requirements and Restrictions:  Participants are expected to participate fully in the program.  They are expected to attend all workshops and organized activities.  The program is very intensive and there will be little time for personal pursuits unrelated to the program.

English Language Ability:  It is imperative that all candidates demonstrate English language fluency.  The program is rigorous and demanding.  Participants will be expected to handle reading materials in English and to be full and active participants in all seminar and panel discussions.  English fluency is vital to a successful experience.

Candidate Description and Qualifications: The participants are expected to be highly motivated professionals working on issues related to economic empowerment. Participants will represent businesses, non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and education organizations.   All participants will have a good knowledge of English.  We welcome applicants from both rural and urban areas, with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside Laos.  We welcome participants of all backgrounds.

The recruitment period is October 15 – November 30, 2012.  Application review will be conducted by local partners in conjunction with the Mansfield Center.  Successful applicants will progress to a telephone interview between December 15-21 in order to assess English-language skills and further ascertain suitability for the program.  A select number will be chosen for personal interviews January 4-15, 2013.  Five primary participants and one alternate will be chosen from each country and notified by February 28, 2013.  Five participants from each country for a total of 20 will ultimately travel to the U.S. in one of two cohorts of 10 participants each.

Selection Criteria

  • English-language fluency.
  • Clear understanding of economic empowerment issues that affect your community.
  • An emerging or mid-level professional with the background to benefit from this learning experience.
  • Completion of relevant education (preferred but not required).
  • Suitability of the applicant’s organization to benefit from this exchange and to host a U.S. participant.
  • Commitment to hosting a U.S. participant for 10-20 days.  This includes organizing a professional program, a cultural orientation, and working with the local partner and the Mansfield Center to organizing logistics such as lodging and transportation. (All activities are paid for by the program, not by you or your organization.)
  • The support of your supervisor and/or organization.
  • A commitment to the time investment required to make the program a success.
  • A demonstrated interest in working in cross-cultural settings.
  • Demonstrated understanding of program objectives.
  • Communication of personal goals in line with program objectives.
  • Participants chosen from each country as a whole reflect the diversity of that country in terms of its populace, geography, and variety of economic interests/fields/organizations.
    • Demonstrated commitment to strengthening your community.
    • Little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States.
    • Be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive program, Fellowship position, community service, and travel program in the U.S. for approximately 37 days.
    • Be able to make adjustments to cultural and social practices different from those in Laos.
  • Aged 25-45, though this is not an absolute requirement.
  • Plan to return to your organization following completion of the program.
  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in your work.


For more information on this program, please visit:


To receive the application materials, please send an email entitled, APPLICATION REQUEST to


Applications must be received by 5 pm on November 30, 2012.


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