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Study of the United States Summer Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Civic Engagement
Application submission deadline:  November 30, 2023, 18:00 Georgian Time

2024 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 2024 Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Civic Engagement. The five-week program will take place at the University of Washington in Seattle in June and July 2024. 

Application submission deadline: 
November 30, 2023, 18:00 (applications received after the deadline will not be accepted).

Please send the following documents by email to TbilisiExchanges@state.gov with a subject line “2024 SUSI for Students”:

  1. Completed application, saved in Microsoft Word format.
  2. University grades –
    First year students should provide midterm grades; 
    2nd and 3rd year students should provide the most recent grades available. 
  3. One recommendation letter from a university professor, signed (written in English language or translated into English; saved in PDF format).

Program Description: Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Student Leaders are intensive short-term academic programs whose purpose is to provide groups of undergraduate student leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.  Each Institute hosts 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 Institutes 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 SUSI on Civic Engagement will enhance participants’ knowledge of U.S. history, government, institutions, society, and culture within the context of the theme.  Participants may also explore the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy; civil rights movements; social justice; gender equity; community-building; grassroots and youth activism; strengthening democracy while defending against authoritarianism; addressing and fighting corruption; promoting respect for human rights; media literacy and countering disinformation; and the role of volunteerism in society.  The Institute will incorporate a focus on U.S. historical events as well as contemporary American life, including current political, social, and economic debates in a pluralistic society.    The Institute will incorporate a focus on U.S. historical events as well as contemporary American life, including current political, social, and economic debates in a pluralistic society.  Specific program elements may include sessions with city officials, a service project at a local park or natural area with Earth Corps, a meeting with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a day trip to Bainbridge Island to learn about the practice of Japanese American internment during World War II.  Participants will learn skills such as community asset mapping, budgeting, fundraising, goal setting, and volunteer management, in addition to a dedicated leadership development curriculum designed for aspiring civic leaders.  A study tour to Kansas City, Missouri, will conclude the program. 

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

Program Requirements and Restrictions: Participants are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the program. Participants must attend all lectures, participate in all required organized activities, and complete all assignments.  Due to the intensive nature of the program, participants should not expect to fulfill professional or academic obligations, including remote work for jobs or internships, classwork, or examinations for their home university, while in the United States.  Doing so will count as an unexcused absence from program activities.  Family members and/or friends may not accompany or join participants for any part of the program.

English Language Ability: English Language proficiency is required to participate in this program.  All candidates must be proficient in English so that they can actively participate in the academic program.  Therefore, candidate interviews must 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. All participants will be expected to respectfully share communal spaces and any necessary responsibilities.

Special Accommodations: 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 health and safety concerns, accommodations will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and host institution 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. Information on the health benefit program may be found online at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos .

Travel Policy: Participants are not 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.

Grounds for Program Dismissal: 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 pose significant challenges to the program, the SUSIs will pivot to a virtual format.  The virtual program will consist of a minimum of 36 hours of required programming and will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning.  Virtual programming may include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, individual and group activities.  Participants will be required to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their location.

Connectivity: Should the program need to pivot to a virtual format, participants would need access to a computer and a stable internet connection.

Candidates nominated for this program should:

  • demonstrate English language proficiency (speaking, reading, writing, listening);
  • demonstrate interest 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 service 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; and
  • 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.

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?   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?  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 the U.S. Government (including a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, USAID, or other U.S. Government entity) 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?   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?   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 are indicated during the application process so that we can begin working with our partners to ensure appropriate accommodations.