VIA Programs

VIA Programs

Why choose VIA Programs?

VIA provides rich, immersive, cross-cultural learning experiences in the U.S. and Asia that transcend boundaries, transform lives, and strengthen our global community. Founded at Stanford in 1963, VIA is a private, non-profit, and non-religious organization. Our Asia Programs include a Global Community Fellowship for professionals and short-term programs for high school and university students. Annually, we send nearly 100 Americans to Asia and welcome over 300 Asian participants on programs in Silicon Valley. In recent years, we’ve designed and run programs for Stanford University, the University of California Education Abroad Program, Haverford College, George Mason University, and the Department of State.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Learn through action!

As a Master's student, I participated in the Indonesia summer program with VIA and George Mason University on their approximately 3-week Gender, Culture and Conflict program. I traveled throughout the islands of Bali and Java - conducting interviews, visiting historical sites with local experts, learning from community-based organizations and conversing with women's groups on issues highly relevant to my Master's program. What I appreciated about this field research program was that you were given the opportunity to pursue issues related to your field of study and I discovered new dimensions that I would have never considered if not for this field experience.
As a graduate student, whether you pursue field work or research in the future, you will find this program and others that VIA operate to be highly rewarding. Honestly, the decision to enroll in the summer program was spontaneous for me (I randomly overheard about it from a co-worker) but VIA and the staff at George Mason worked together with VIA to make my enrollment possible. I only heard about the program very close to the deadline, but I didn't want to pass this good opportunity so I applied and thankfully it worked out. So, if you heard about this program close or pass the deadline or are nervous about not meeting the qualifications - reach out! You won't regret it.

What would you improve about this program?
It was a great program!
Read my full story
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Life Changing

I can't say enough good things about the VIA Global Community Fellowship. I was a VIA fellow from 2012-2014, and it was one of the best decisions I've made, especially during a period of career transition in life. For the first year I taught English speaking at a local university in Yogyakarta. The second year I served as a program assistant at a prominent, local NGO called Yayasan Dian Desa, which works on appropriate technology solutions for community development, particularly in rural communities.

VIA did an incredible job in providing us fellows (who all came from very diverse, interdisciplinary backgrounds and passions) with the necessary skills to thrive within our respective programs/organizations. Throughout the two years I spent in Indonesia, I always felt that the local VIA staff (comprising Americans and local Indonesians) were there to support our growth, language learning, and orientation. I very much appreciated VIA's on-going work in forging supportive, collaborative partnerships with local leaders, schools, and NGOs.

I highly recommend the VIA fellowship program, as well as other programs in general, especially if you are looking for a smaller, intimate organization that does an excellent job in promoting healthy cross-cultural exchange and learning!

Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

I was an adult participant on the 2014 Indonesia-United States Youth Leadership Program. My experience in the program was enlightening, fun, and life-changing. The staff was professional, helpful, and engaging at every step in the process. They provided a dynamic balance of experiential learning and culturally-informed travel experiences. I would recommend VIA programs to anyone who is looking for a meaningful, insightful, and fun global experience.

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Indonesia Youth Leadership Program

The Youth Leadership Program to Indonesia was the most formative experiences I have had in high school. It is rare to have the ability to travel abroad and be truly immersed within the culture and community of the country you are visiting. It is these experiences that open your eyes to the great diversity and traditions of the world. The VIA staff is what made this possible. I experienced a side of Bali and Jogja that most tourists never see. I learned about the issues people from Indonesia face, and the ways in which they combat these issues. I met people who demonstrated the importance of civic engagement and the acceptance of all people. The staff constantly encouraged us to dive in and take what we learned back home. What we discovered was that while the issues may be different, the work and actions of the citizens are the same.. The VIA staff guided our way to developing our own leadership and communication skills. VIA offers a unique blend of cultural exposure and a concentration on personal growth. I am constantly thinking back to what I learned and experienced in Indonesia. Entering my senior year, I could not be more thankful for the opportunity for intellectual and personal growth the Indonesian Youth Leadership Program offered.

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Hike to Borobudur

4:00 AM we left our homestay in Jogjakarta departing for the Borobudur Temple in an attempt at catching an Instagram worthy picture. At this point we had spent nearly two weeks together and it was towards the end of our first week in Jogja, however previous to this day I really hadn't bought into the whole program. However on this early morning trip followed by a late night reflection everything on this trip seemed to connect and I finally realized how important this trip had been to me and the lasting impact it would have on me. Beyond the picture and beyond the beautiful view from the top of this Buddhist Temple, the impact that the discussion that started on leadership leading to compromise and finished with a reflection of the two weeks will forever stick in my head. Looking back on this one month summer program I can guarantee anyone that is fortunate enough to go on this trip will have countless experiences that will shape them beyond that one month. The leadership skills and peace and conflict skills we learned on this trip were only the beginning of the transformation that will come on this trip. Additionally, the people that you will meet along this one month are connections that will last for long beyond this month, the learning environment they create is unlike anything that can be experienced in a school environment. All in all this trip is one the best experiences I have ever had.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Megan Huber


Why did you choose this program?

I choose the field research program with VIA programs on Gender and Conflict in Indonesia to gain field experience on issues related to my graduate concentration. This program would allow me to refine and explore my 'feminist curiosity' through communicating with grassroots in a researcher capacity. I also wanted to return to Asia in a research or work capacity to enrich my understanding of women and gender issues in Southeast Asia.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program and university both assisted me and the other participants with being able to connect and interview local organizations. Along with housing, flights during the program and transportation, the program also provided us with local experts to gain a more comprehensive understanding of cultural and historical contexts through a gender lens.

The program assisted us with almost everything! I had to organize my flight and after the program finished, I decided to stay and hike a volcano before I returned to the US.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Something I would recommend future participants give greater thought to is to consider what you want to research. What do you want to investigate during this program? Are there elements particular to the Indonesian context that you find interesting? Certain islands you want to go and study or organizations?

Don't limit yourself to considering this when you arrive because it would be difficult (not impossible) to arrange. I think this program is good for students who have an understanding of their area of research.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day would be the normal early morning wake up and breakfast (unless seeing a sunrise), visit historical site(s), and speak with a local organization to conduct interviews and gather material. I would be tired after most days but having personal evening reflection was a good exercise to digest the day and run through the things I learned.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

For this program, I was not fearful of anything in particular due to my prior visits to Asia and Indonesia. I remember my first time abroad for an extended period of time and was nervous about the food. Ironically, that became one of my favorite cultural experiences while working abroad.

From all my travels, tackling things I felt the most hesitant to encounter were actually my most memorable of times.

Don't limit yourself - try new things, learn more about your preferences and limitations. I found myself able to be more flexible after traveling.

Did you act differently during your time abroad versus at home?

While abroad, it's a good rule of thumb to become knowledgeable of where are you going before you arrive. That means understanding what clothes you may wear, certain social/cultural rules (informal and legal), and awareness about yourself (sex, race, ethnicity, sexuality, language, citizenship) when you travel abroad.

During my first few trips I tried to blend in with society and try to 'act native' but I have developed since then. I found that being confident in myself and integrating parts of a culture into my lifestyle had the most long-term positive impact on my international experiences.

There are different ways to publicly interact and represent yourself - depending in what capacity you travel and the region (cultural, religious, social practices), you need to become aware of how you -- a foreigner -- are situated within that society and appropriately respond. I like to say travel smart.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Izzy Rhoads

Job Title
Indonesia Programs Director
Izzy has been working or studying in Indonesia for over a decade and is fluent in Bahasa Indonesia. She has an MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, and is completing her PhD at King's College London.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I recently heard from a former student that her career trajectory changed after exploring traditional medicine with VIA in Yogyakarta. Her review is available to read on the site.

I'd followed her work for the past few years but it wasn't until she wrote the review here that I realized VIA had played a role in that trajectory and that was very meaningful for me to see that even our shorter (4-week) programs have significant impact on individuals.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I'm a little too old to go on a high school program, but I would definitely choose one of the Youth Leadership Programs - either in Indonesia or Hong Kong.

Every year the student cohort is fantastically inspirational and they get to see parts of Indonesia and Hong Kong that are often hidden from the view of average tourists.

All while tackling important global issues like climate change and social justice.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

While there are plenty of study abroad programs that try to create a family feel amongst staff, VIA takes this one step further and cultivates a strong sense of ownership amongst participants and alumni. We work hard to make sure that participants feel that they can make change within VIA as well as within their communities.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I think strong partnerships is one of the most important things for a successful company in this field, and it is something VIA has excelled at for over 50 years.

We work with our local partners to find ways to link them to each other, to resources, to new experiences for their staff and clients, and to educational opportunities. This is one of the aspects of our work that I am most proud of and constantly working to expand.

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