The only exception is the fellowship at Beijing Normal University, where Shansi, in consultation with Oberlin’s East Asian Studies program staff, selects one Shansi Fellow who is sufficiently proficient in Chinese and has previously spent time in China. The applicant must be able to take advantage of the language and humanities classes offered at BNU. All other fellowships are open to all Oberlin College and Oberlin Conservatory seniors and to those who have graduated from Oberlin within the past there years. More important than a given major are personal qualities and characteristics such as responsibility, adaptability, flexibility, intelligence, a proven ability to learn a foreign language, an ability to work with others, an interest in teaching where applicable and a sincere desire to learn about another culture and language and to share one’s own culture and language.
There is no requirement for proficiency in the language of the countries to which you are applying for programs at Shanxi Agricultural University, China, the partnerships in India, Indonesia and Japan. The one-year Beijing Normal University partnership requires proficiency in Chinese and prior experience living and studying in China.
However a demonstrated track record in language acquisition is certainly a plus. Most Shansi Fellows enroll in an intensive summer language program prior to their departure and continue throughout their terms. Ability to communicate in the language is a point that distinguishes Shansi Fellows from other young teachers and travelers.
Again, the only exception is the fellowship at Beijing Normal University, where students must be sufficiently proficient in Chinese (which will be determined by Shansi in conjunction with staff from the East Asian Studies Program) to fully take advantage of the opportunities the fellowship affords. This program is designed to benefit a serious student of Chinese Language and Literature.
Most former Shansi Fellows feel that the experience is a life-changing one – challenging as it is – and no dollar value can be attributed to it. In addition to this Shansi Fellows receive:
The total fellowship package, depending on location, is valued between $18,000 and $30,000 per year.
No, you can apply for the Shansi Fellowship up until three years after graduating from Oberlin. This year, current seniors (Class of 2013) and the Classes of 2012, 2011, and 2010 are eligible to apply.
While every fellowship experience is unique both to the site and the Fellow, all fellowship recipients spend their terms learning the languages and cultures of their host communities. Depending on the partner institutions Fellows may assist with curricular and extra-curricular activities, volunteer as teachers of English, or provide support to the non-governmental organization depending on the needs of the organization and the skills of the Fellow. Additionally, Fellows are encouraged to pursue individual projects on their own. The partner institutions provide the schedules and descriptions of areas of responsibility. Fellowship recipients are expected to meet these schedules and to collaborate with their host institutions. The term of the fellowship is two years, with the exception of the program at Beijing Normal University, which is for one year. For the two-year appointments the second year is contingent upon the successful completion of the first year of the contract and the mutual agreement of the partner institution and Oberlin Shansi.
No, you do not need to have teaching experience to apply for the Shansi Fellowship. In fact, newly selected Fellows spend their Winter Term at Oberlin taking an intensive workshop in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) while attending an orientation program run by Shansi. If you have teaching experience as a tutor or by volunteering in local schools, etc. it is considered a plus.
This year, there are nine available fellowships: three in China (two at Shanxi Agricultural University and one at Beijing Normal University), two in Japan (at J.F. Oberlin University), two in India (one at Jagori and one at Lady Doak College), and two in Indonesia (one at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta and one at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh).
Once you have completed and submitted your application they are screened by members of the Shansi Board. Interviews are then granted on the basis of this screening process that generally takes about two weeks. The results of this process are then sent by mail and e-mail to applicants with notification of whether or not an interview has been granted. Those selected for interviews will be asked to contact the Shansi Office to select an interview time. There is no travel funding for graduates living outside of Oberlin selected for interviews. Often these interviewees decide to return to Oberlin for a face-to-face interview but in cases where they decide it is not feasible telephone or skype interviews are set up. Interviews are conducted in November and notice to the candidates is sent prior to the Winter Term December deadline. If selected Fellows are required to spend their Winter Term in Oberlin for training in TESOL and other orientation sessions. In rare cases is an exception to this rule granted. If an exception is granted the Fellow must complete the training during the second semester prior to graduation – no exceptions. Once a Fellow accepts the fellowship offer it is understood that the new Fellow will not accept any other fellowship offers that might be announced after the Shansi fellowships are announced.