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“The Luce Scholar Year” involves a commitment of about thirteen months, from mid-June until late July of the following year.
Since none of the Scholars – by definition – has a deep background in Asian affairs, the program year commences with an orientation designed to give an overview of contemporary Asia and address practical concerns about living in Asia that will assist the Scholars in making the most of their placements. The Luce Foundation convenes this nine-day orientation program in the second half of June, first in New York City, where Luce Scholars have an opportunity to meet with some leading scholars and professionals who have made Asia the focus for their careers. After the New York sessions, the Scholars travel as a group to San Francisco, where they participate in country-specific orientation at the headquarters of The Asia Foundation. The Scholars then depart from San Francisco International Airport for their individual placement countries.
Luce Scholars spend July and August engaging in intensive language training in their respective placement countries. Since the program is geared to non-specialists, prior knowledge of an Asian language is not a criterion for selection. However, language study is a program requirement and is supported financially by the Luce Foundation. The level of language proficiency directly impacts the quality of a Scholar’s professional interactions and appreciation of cultural subtleties in the country where the Scholar is placed. All Scholars are encouraged to continue language study throughout their year in Asia, and special funds are available for this purpose.
Individual placements generally commence in September and last until late June of the following year. These assignments, where Luce Scholars work alongside Asian colleagues, are the heart of the Luce Scholars Program. In late October, Scholars meet for a week in one of the Asian cities for an early assessment of their experiences in Asia. Ample time is provided for discussion among individual Scholars and with the foundation staff. The goal of the meeting is to help the Scholars address potential professional and personal frustrations they might feel after the initial euphoria and develop new perspectives essential to their success in Asia.
In July, at the end of their Luce year in Asia, the Scholars gather once more for a wrap-up meeting. Each Scholar is required to make a presentation at this meeting on his or her experiences in Asia. Past venues have included Davao City in the southern Philippines, Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Danang on Vietnam’s coast and Kunming in Southwestern China.
At the conclusion of the wrap-up meeting, the program year ends. Air transportation is provided for all travel required by the program. Besides monthly stipend and applicable housing and cost-of-living allowances, the foundation also subsidizes the shipment of personal effects. Finally, medical and travel insurance are provided for all Scholars and their accompanying spouses.
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