UM Hosts Southeastern Asia Fellows, Provides Cultural Exchange Opportunities

September 22, 2017

YSEALI fellows share cultural songs and dances with Missoula’s Lewis and Clark elementary students during a visit Thursday.MISSOULA – As part of its mission to promote global connections for Montanans, the University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center has arranged a rich opportunity for local residents – including school-aged children – to learn about the people and cultures of Southeast Asia.

The Mansfield Center is hosting fellows of the U.S. Department of State’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative for five weeks. This year’s YSEALI fellows, ranging in age from 18 to 25, represent nine of the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The group will spend the first four weeks in western Montana for a study in environmental issues linked to economics, social justice and transboundary relationships.

YSEALI fellows spent Thursday morning with Missoula’s Lewis and Clark elementary students in support of the school’s global education curriculum. The fellows shared songs, dances and local traditions with kindergarten through fifth grade students. In return, the students shared their own American games, songs and activities.

During the rest of their visit in Montana, fellows balance their time between academic sessions, UM courses and visits to the Flathead Reservation, Butte, Hamilton, Helena, Ravalli and Glacier National Park, which include sessions with the Department of Environmental Quality, local farmers, numerous Missoula nonprofits and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

For the final week of the American visit, the Mansfield Center will take the fellows to New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

The visit coincides with the 50-year anniversary of the founding of ASEAN and the 40th anniversary of US-ASEAN relations. Just as ASEAN was founded to promote political and economic cooperation across Southeast Asia, the YSEALI program seeks to expand that spirit of cooperation across the world by fostering cross-cultural partnerships, youth leadership and lasting diplomatic ties.

Missoula is one of only a handful of American cities selected to host a YSEALI program.

For more information call Caitlin Sager with the Mansfield Center at 406-240-6226.


Contact: Caitlin Sager, program coordinator, UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, 406-243-2965,