VIA Global Community Fellowship
93% Rating
(11 Reviews)

VIA Global Community Fellowship

The Global Community Fellowship is a 13-15 month program for young and established professionals. Fellows work at NGOs and schools across Asia to support community development and youth education programs. By working directly with communities, fellows get hands-on experience learning how organizations in Asia are using creative and innovative methods to address critical social challenges.

Education-focused Posts – As a teaching fellow, you'll advance student development using critical thinking, peace and conflict resolution, and cross-cultural communication curriculum. You'll also help students to access future education and professional opportunities.

NGO-focused Posts – As an NGO fellow, you'll support community development and international communication efforts by supporting NGOs to access resources, networks, and collaboration opportunities.

Fellows are placed in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Locations
Asia » Japan
Asia » China
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
The fellowship is fully funded by VIA, with support from alumni, grants, and our partners. The fellowship includes:

*approximately four weeks of training, covering program management, cross-cultural communication, leadership development, local language lessons, and teacher training.

*Comprehensive emergency medical and evacuation insurance

*Living and housing stipend (ranging from $300-$800 per month, depending on location) while working at your post or on a short-term VIA program

*All intra-Asia travel (from training to your post and wrap-up conference)

*Language study grants and tutors are available at some posts

Questions & Answers

Hi Ha Linh, I would recommend looking at Via's "custom programs" page to see if there is a way to do shorter programs.

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    93%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    95%
  • Value
    93%
  • Safety
    95%

Program Reviews (11)

Default avatar
Rowena
Female
31 years old
Seattle

Life Changing

10/10

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!

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Rachel
Female
29 years old
Chicago
Macalester College

Developing meaningful relationships and independence abroad

10/10

I was a 2011-2012 English teaching volunteer at Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta (UMS) in Central Java, Indonesia. VIA truly changed the course of my life. The staff are tremendous and offer both logistic and emotional support while also giving you quite a bit of independence to make the experience your own. I had some issues with my visa and VIA remained a constant resource in troubleshooting the oftentimes red-tape filled Indonesian government. VIA attracts people who really want to learn about a culture, learn the language and think critically about their experience as an expat in Asia. I have made true long lasting relationships with the fellow people in my VIA cohort. Teaching abroad also allowed me opportunities to volunteer at other NGOs in Indonesia which has since furthered my career in international development. (In fact, I stayed 4 months after my post officially ended.) While my specific post did challenge me (lack of support from the faculty at UMS and occasional loneliness), I developed so much resiliency and openness towards others. I would highly highly recommend VIA.

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Grace
Female
27 years old
Turlock, CA
University of California- Santa Cruz

An outstanding way to teach, work, and travel!

10/10

I was a VIA Fellow in Jogjakarta, Indonesia from 2012-2014 teaching English at the Vocational School in University Gadjah Mada. Those 2 years were, hands-down, the most incredible and memorable years of my life. Teaching and living in Indonesia was life-changing and I don't think I would have had the opportunity or the support to do it without Volunteers in Asia. We had training in Cambodia and wonderful staff in Jogja to help guide and support us as we started working at our posts. VIA helped with everything from learning about local culture, language training, getting us situated with housing, mediating between VIA and the university, assisting with visa/passport issues, and other things as they came up once we were in country.

VIA is great at supporting your teaching/working goals, assisting in any cultural/in-country issues you may face, and is an overall strong and socially conscientious program. I will forever be grateful for being accepted to VIA and working with such a great university and wonderful students. I made memories and gained professional skills that will forever benefit me through this program, so I highly recommend it - especially to recent grads who want to do a bit of traveling while also productively giving back and working abroad.

How can this program be improved?

In the 2012 cohort year I remember wishing for a better teacher's training program during orientation before going to our respective posts. This may have been improved already though.

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Karen
Female
28 years old
Evanston
McGill University

Transformative experience with VIA

10/10

I was a VIA Fellow for 2 year in Yangon, Myanmar from 2012 through 2014. This was truly a transformative experience for me and I've recommended VIA very highly to many friends and contacts since. VIA has a small but committed group of staff members who have passion for their work and vast experience in creating strong partnerships with local organizations and schools in the countries in which they place fellows. I really felt that my voice was not only heard by VIA staff but welcomed too. They are great about giving fellows leadership roles and in supporting us in terms of cultural adaptation and development of professional skills. I wouldn't exchange my time with VIA for anything.

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Maura
Female
31 years old
Shaker Heights, OH

Incredible two years with VIA

10/10

I was a long-term VIA fellow in Yogyakarta, Indonesia during 2011-2013, where I worked at a local grassroots NGO focusing on improving rural technologies. Through VIA and YDD, I had the opportunity to work on these issues firsthand with experts in the field, both from Indonesia and abroad. VIA provided constant support while I was on the ground, and events such as orientation and the mid-year retreat helped to solidify a deep bond with other VIA fellows working throughout Asia. The experience was unforgettable and I am forever grateful to VIA and its staff, and my coworkers at YDD in Jogja.

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Angela
Female
26 years old
Los Angeles
University of California- Los Angeles

Insightful 2 years in Indonesia

9/10

Serving as a VIA fellow for two years at an education post in Yogyakarta really impacted my life. I like to think that I became wiser and more insightful about life during the years I spent in Indonesia, and that is something that has made my time volunteering so meaningful.

What I appreciated most about my post was given the trust to pursue activities and projects that I thought would fulfill students' needs and demands. For example, I noticed that quite a large number of students had an interest in going abroad but were not quite sure how to start the process. In response to this, I put together a two-weeklong program (one workweek in Yogyakarta, one full week abroad) to Chiang Mai which was met with great success. I also got VIA involved; we were able to coordinate my program's schedule with VIA's summer training. Even though we didn't run the same program again this summer because I was leaving, it warms my heart to know that this was a catalyst for smaller programs so that students are still able to benefit from an abroad experience.

It's already nerve-wrecking standing in front of a classroom, but try doing that in a different country where the culture is different. And as an educator, you put on many hats - facilitator, counselor, director, program manager, curriculum designer, proctor, etc. I learned a lot about the teaching profession. Learning-on-the-job while under mentorship from my supervisors helped me tremendously, and those skills that I learned have been crucial in allowing me to thrive in my current position where I teach at a high school. I look at every student and see so much potential in them, and that is what makes teaching such a rewarding experience. The results and effects may not be immediate but when the lightbulbs go off and you see the sparkle in your students' eyes because they understand something new, that feeling of pride and accomplishment is hard to beat.

Of course, there are times when I'm sure my students thought that my classes were challenging, that I gave too many assignments, that I asked too many questions, that I was too strict on formatting down to the font, that I was crazy in making them sing along to a punctuation rap, that I gave them a nonsensical poem to learn parts of speech; I'm hoping that years down the road, they'll encounter again the things that they've learned and remember to pass on their knowledge.

Overall, I highly recommend VIA, and the changing structure of the fellowship, in my opinion, will provide fellows with a greater experience. Fellows have a deep sense of purpose and are present at their posts and for each other. The small cohort size allows for a tight-knit family that could be hard to find in other similar immersion programs. VIA has staff based in the US and in Asia who are ready to assist within their capacity. You will impact the lives of the people who meet and work with, and they will also impact yours.

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Elizabeth
Female
32 years old
Cincinnati
Bryn Mawr College

One year in Myanmar

10/10

Prior to spending a year in Myanmar with VIA, I had already spent considerable time abroad, including a Fulbright Fellowship in Indonesia. So while it wasn't my first time abroad, it was definitely the time that had the most significant and long-term impact. I returned from my year with VIA and spent a year studying Burmese in graduate school and later applied for a PhD working on Burma. None of this would have been possible without VIA.

What I liked about VIA was that volunteers, fellows, staff, interns - everyone was made to feel very included in the organization itself - we weren't clients - just as the local organizations we work with are not clients - we are all partners. The staff tried their hardest to help us to troubleshoot problems in the field and come up with creative solutions and work with our partners to create new linkages and new programs.

I highly recommend the fellowship program for anyone interested in immersing themselves in a new culture and learning new skills - at any stage of your career.

How can this program be improved?

I'd like to see the fellowship lengthened to two years, but that's just me.

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MinumTeh
Female
24 years old
California
Principia College

VIA meets you halfway to make your experience great

8/10

VIA is an honest, self-aware, and responsible organization that you can trust to do as much as any organization can to provide you with a good experience abroad. They prepared my long-term Indonesia volunteer group with readings, lectures, and discussion on Indonesian history, culture, and language, and also discussed realistic expectations for what impact you can expect your volunteering to have on the local community and yourself. Better language classes and professional preparation (learning to teach English, in my case) would have been helpful, but perhaps they’ve improved these by now. If you’re proactive and don’t rely on VIA to spoon-feed you everything, you can prepare yourself well.

I was placed in a safe community, Yogyakarta, in a school that truly wanted a volunteer (as opposed to a school that had a volunteer foisted on it by the terms of a grant or something). Everyone was extremely friendly, welcoming, and accepting of my different culture and religion. My liaison at the school, my VIA in-country field representative, and my U.S.-based VIA program officer were all very responsive to any questions or concerns I had. Also, these VIA staff made a point of asking for our experiences and opinions at our VIA Indonesia mid-year retreat, in order to keep our remaining time in Indonesia positive and to improve the program for future years.

The VIA website features previous volunteers’ recommendations that you stay for a second year, as this is when the experience becomes more rewarding. I only stayed for one year, by the end of which I was both ready to come home and regretful that I was leaving, especially because I wished I could have taught another year to use all the lessons I’d learned during my year there. The experience was at times difficult, boring, frustrating, and lonely, but I also learned a lot, found close friends, got to learn another language, had lots of fun, got to explore one of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating countries, and had a thousand experiences I never would have had if I hadn’t gone. Overall, it was a fulfilling experience. I’m not sure what difference I made to my students; I hope I helped some of them become less confused about English and inspired more of them to continue to pursue learning English (and learning in general) as a gateway to a wider world. By the way, if you’re going to teach at a K-12 school, you might consider bringing some children’s picture books in English to donate.

A note on Javanese food from a vegetarian perspective: expect peanut sauce, palm sugar, tofu, really delicious tempeh, white rice, coconut milk, some greens and other veggies, and fried everything. I LOVE Javanese food, but I did miss other kinds. They don’t have beans other than soy, mung, and kidney beans, so if I went back, I would bring dried beans! Or get them on a visa run to Malaysia.

Go VIA!

Default avatar
langit
Female
32 years old
California
Small Group (1-15)

Join VIA! It'll change your life - for the better

9/10

My two years in Indonesia contained some of the most challenging and the most rewarding moments of my life. I constantly reflect on my experiences and how much I gained from participating in the program. It's not easy. Things like this never are. But it puts life in perspective and it's an experience unlike any other. No one quite understands the feeling unless they've gone through it themselves, but that is one of the reasons how I've met and kept some of my closest friends today.

What distinguishes VIA from say Peace Corps or the other volunteer programs out there is the intimacy and the support. It's a small program composed of excellent staff and volunteers. They are socially conscientious and care about the communities in which they work. The volunteers have a say in the direction of the program and often times they return to VIA as program coordinators and directors. You're not just another volunteer, they get to know you as a person, listen to what you want out of this experience and give you freedom to explore. Also, you are able to work with NGOs rather than teaching English if grammar is not your thing.

Indonesia is a fascinating country with the nicest people that I have ever met. I knew near nothing about the country before I went and came out with a wealth of knowledge. It helps that the language is an easier language to learn. The country is so varied and ridiculously beautiful that you'll fall in love with it, especially if you dive, surf, or hike.

Of course volunteering abroad in a county like Indonesia will be difficult and things aren't perfect. But, if you are debating the different programs, VIA should be at the top of your list. I cannot recommend this program enough.

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formerVIA1
Male
32 years old
USA
Small Group (1-15)

Strong support, good partnerships, a bit pricey

9/10

VIA China is well-run organization with a 50 year history. They more or less work with the same partner organizations in China every year and provide a month of summer training and a midyear conference, so this is not a fly by night program who simply drops you in some village and walks away. It's for people who want to actually get to know the culture of the country and who want to have a cohort experience.

The cons of the program are that you have to pay a $2,500 fee. This covers health insurance and some other things, so it's not outrageous, but it's still significant, considering at your main teaching job you're only making $400/month. Also, the impact of your work will depend a lot on which site you go to.

Overall though, this is an excellent program with some quality people. There's definitely a sense of community among VIA volunteers and friendships between volunteers and local staff/students. I'd highly recommend it.

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currentchinaviavol1
Female
24 years old
Hunan, China
Small Group (1-15)

VIA China

7/10

VIA in China is a great program if you're interesting in teaching, NGO work, China, international development, and community building. Living in China for a whole year allows you to begin to understand Chinese culture and society and will also greatly improve your Mandarin. In addition, you will make lifelong friends through VIA and your new Chinese community.

About The Provider

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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

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