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Study of the United States Summer Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Civic Engagement

The U.S Embassy in Tbilisi is pleased to announce the 2022 Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Civic Engagement. The five-week program will take place with a U.S. university in June and July 2022.

Application submission deadline:  December 20, 2021

Please send the following documents by email to TbilisiExchanges@state.gov with the subject line “2022 SUSI for Students”:

  1. Completed application, saved in Microsoft Word format, applications saved in PDF format will not be accepted;
  2. The latest university transcript available for 2nd and 3rd-year students; 1st-year students can provide 1st-semester midterm exam results (in PDF format);
  3. One recommendation letter from a university professor signed (in PDF format).

Program Description: Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders are intensive short-term academic programs whose purpose is to provide groups of undergraduate student leaders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and Turkey with a deeper understanding of the United States while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.  Each Institute has 20 participants.  The Institutes consist of a four-week academic residency with a balanced series of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures.  Site visits, leadership development, cultural activities, and community service complement the coursework and academic sessions.  If conditions allow, the Institute will include a one-week integrated study tour in the United States.  Note that if the program must take place virtually, participants will engage in similar activities but online from their home countries.

The Study of the U.S. Institute on Civic Engagement will provide participants with an overview of how citizens have shaped U.S. history, government, and society both as individuals and groups.  The academic program will define civic engagement; examine its development in the United States; and explore topics such as citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, political leadership, and volunteerism.  In order to enhance the academic experience, the Institute will focus on a specific theme or sub-themes such as civil rights and protections, public health, education, entrepreneurship, ethics, leadership, or media.  Academic sessions will be complemented with hands-on sessions or workshops designed to build skills in the topics mentioned above.  The Institute will encourage participants to develop innovative and practical plans to become engaged citizens in their own communities.  Should conditions allow, the SUSIs for Global Student Leaders will begin with an Opening Forum in Washington, D.C., offering opportunities for networking, foundational leadership skills development, and exploring relevant topics from multi-regional perspectives.

Program Funding: All participant costs will be covered, including program administration; international and domestic travel and ground transportation; visa travel; book, cultural, mailing and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence.

Program Requirements and Restrictions: Participants are expected to fully participate in the academic program. Participants must attend all lectures, participate in all required organized activities, and complete all assignments.  Family members and/or friends may not accompany or join participants for any part of the program.

English Language Ability: All candidates must be proficient in English so that they can actively participate in the academic program. Candidate interviews will be conducted in English.  Host institutions will consider the varying levels of participants’ comprehension and speaking ability and will prepare lectures and discussions that meet the highest academic standards while using language appropriate for students where English is their second or third language.

Housing and Meal Arrangements: Housing will be in shared or single university dorms on campus or full-service hotels within walking distance of most classroom activities.  Male and female participants will be housed in separate quarters.  In addition to regular group meals and a university meal plan, participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own.

Care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.  Special accommodations will be made available to the greatest extent possible.  Should a participant need to quarantine due to positive COVID-19 test results, accommodations will follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Health Benefits: All participants will receive the Department of State’s Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) health benefit during the U.S.-based in-person component, which provides coverage of up to $100,000 with a $25 co-pay per medical visit and a $75 co-pay per emergency room visit, for the duration of the program.  Pre-existing conditions may be covered up to $100,000, subject to policy exclusions and limitations.  ASPE also covers up to $500 for routine COVID-19 testing requirements in the United States.  COVID-19 is treated like any other illness under the ASPE health benefits plan.  Information on the health benefit program may be found online at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos.

Travel Policy: Under no circumstances are participants allowed to arrive in the United States prior to the start date of the SUSI or remain in the United States after the end date.  Similarly, participants will not be permitted to leave the SUSI to visit relatives or friends while in the United States.  If a relative or friend wishes to visit a participant, it will be considered on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the ECA program officer and the host institution.  Participants are required to return to their home countries immediately following the end of the Institute.

Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

Virtual Program Contingency: Should health, safety, and travel conditions continue to pose significant challenges, the SUSI will pivot to a virtual format.  The virtual program would consist of a minimum of 36 hours of required programming with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning.  To the extent possible, the virtual programming would include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, site visits, leadership development, assignments, and individual and group activities.  Participants will be expected to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their locations.

Connectivity: Should the program need to pivot to a virtual format, participants would need access to a computer and a stable internet connection.  If a participant does not have access to these two items, the program administrator will work with the participant to facilitate access.  Participants would be expected to actively engage in all program activities, and therefore, they should notify immediately the host institution and post of any issues with their online access during the duration of the program as well as any difficulties affecting their participation.

Candidate Qualifications: Participants are expected to be highly motivated first through third-year undergraduate students from colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, and extracurricular activities.  Their fields of study will be varied and may include the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, business, and other professional fields.

Candidates nominated for this program should:

  • be proficient in English;
  • be interested in the topic of civic engagement;
  • be between 18 and 25 years of age;
  • have at least one semester left of their undergraduate studies, and be committed to returning to their home universities following completion of the program;
  • demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university and community activities;
  • indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States;
  • have a sustained high level of academic achievement, as indicated by grades, awards, and teacher recommendations;
  • demonstrate commitment to community and extracurricular university activities;
  • have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States or elsewhere outside of their home country;
  • be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful, and inquisitive;
  • be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive academic program, community service, and educational travel;
  • if the program is conducted in-person, be comfortable with campus life, prepared to share living accommodations, and able to adjust to cultural and social practices different from those of their home country; and,
  • if the program must be conducted virtually, must have access to the internet.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What degree of English proficiency should a nominee have?  All participants must be fully proficient in English; throughout the Institute, they will need to fully understand lectures, actively participate in discussions, and read and write assignments in English.
  • Can a nominee who is a dual citizen (U.S. and country of origin) participate in the Study of the U.S. Institutes?  No.  U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) are not eligible to participate in this program.
  • A candidate has been to the U.S. before; would he/she be disqualified?  No.  Nominees with minimal experience in the United States may be considered for the program.  However, priority will be given to nominees with no previous experience in the United States.
  • Can family members of U.S. Embassy employees apply for the program?  Immediate family members of U.S. Embassy employees are ineligible for this program. U.S. Embassy employees are also ineligible.
  • During the in-person portion of the program, how much free time will a participant have?  There will be some free time during the program.  However, nominees must understand that this is an intensive academic program and they are expected to fully participate in all lectures, activities, site visits, and scheduled events.
  • Will participants have time to visit relatives or friends that may live in the United States during the in-person portion of the program?  Participants will not be allowed to leave the Institute to visit relatives or friends.  Occasionally it is possible for a relative or friend to visit the participant on a specific day designated during the Institute if the schedule permits.  These situations will be considered on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the program officer and the implementing partners.
  • During the in-person portion of the program, can a participant of the SUSIs for Student Leaders arrive early or stay in the U.S. after the Institute?  No.  Participants who choose to travel to the United States on a Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders are required to abide by the terms and conditions of the program.  These terms state clearly that Student Leaders may not arrive in the United States before the program start date or remain in the country after the close of the Institute.
  • Can a graduate student participate in a SUSI for Student Leaders Institute?  No.  Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders are designed exclusively for undergraduate students with at least one remaining semester of study.
  • Can a participant miss one part or component of the Institute?   All participants are expected to participate in all scheduled lectures, events, site visits, trips, and activities.
  • How much money will participants need to bring for the in-person portion of the program?  The Study of the U.S. Institutes cover all basic costs of an individual’s participation including transportation, lodging, and meals.  Generally, the Institutes provide meals through a combination of a cafeteria meal plan, a pre-loaded debit card for use at local restaurants, and/or a cash allowance for participants to purchase food for cooking.  Information on housing and meal arrangements will be provided by the implementing approximately six weeks prior to the start of the Institute.  Other than the meal stipend mentioned above, participants should not expect to receive any spending money from the Institute.  Participants should bring their own spending money if they wish to purchase souvenirs or other items during their time in the United States.
  • A candidate participated in the English Access Microscholarship Program; can he/she participate in this Institute?  Yes.
  • Are you able to fully accommodate participants with disabilities?  The Study of the U.S. Branch welcomes nominations for individuals with disabilities.  We are committed to working with our partners to arrange reasonable accommodations for all participants.  We ask that disabilities be indicated during the nomination process so that we can begin working with our partners to ensure appropriate accommodations.