Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Eurasia and Central Asia (Global UGRAD)
The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Eurasia and Central Asia builds the capacity of youth leaders from underserved populations across the region. Through U.S.-based training and practical experience in leadership, life-skills, civic engagement, and internships, youth leaders are empowered to implement long-term civic and economic changes in their communities, building stability through increased local capacity and cross-cultural understanding.
The selected students study in non-degree programs for one academic year at an American university or community college, allowing them to develop a nuanced understanding of the United States and to share their countries and cultures with America. When Global UGRAD students return to finish college in their home countries, they share what they have learned and contribute to the development of their home communities.
The Global UGRAD Program in Eurasia and Central Asia is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
• Eurasian and American students increase their cross-cultural understanding and create personal and professional linkages with one another.
• Participants use the skills and knowledge acquired in the United States to serve as community leaders in their home countries.
Established by Congress in 1992 under the Freedom Support Act, the Global UGRAD Program is no less relevant today than it was immediately after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Though freedom of movement and information have greatly increased, Americans and citizens of the former Soviet Union still lack opportunities to interact and have substantive dialogue. Through academic studies, community service, and internships, Global UGRAD students come into close contact with Americans and develop lasting relationships with U.S. universities, schools, businesses, and community organizations.
Global UGRAD was previously known as the Eurasian Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD) and the Freedom Support Act (FSA) Undergraduate Exchange Program.
Undergraduate Study: Global UGRAD fellows are placed at accredited universities and colleges throughout the United States for a year-long program of full-time study in various fields. For the 2012-2013 academic year, 39 institutions will host UGRAD fellows in 26 states.
Community Service: The UGRAD Program requires each participant to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service during their first semester. Many fellows give back to their American host communities through volunteer work beyond the 20 hour requirement; nearly 90% of the 2011-2012 UGRAD cohort surpassed the minimum requirement. Fellows have volunteered in a variety of settings, such as after-school tutoring programs, blood drives, community fundraisers, and natural disaster reconstruction.
Internships: In addition to their second semester academic studies, fellows complete part-time internships, gaining experience in the American workplace and developing relationships with local businesses, Congressional, city, and county government offices, nonprofit organizations, and other institutions.
Country Presentations: Fellows each give two required presentations during the fellowship, sharing their countries’ histories and traditions with Americans at their host institutions and in off-campus settings such as schools, retirement homes, and Rotary clubs. As cultural ambassadors, the 2011-2012 fellows collectively shared their countries and cultures with about 15,000 people in the U.S. After returning home, over 90%,of UGRAD alumni shared their U.S. experience at least four times over the previous 12 months.
Cultural Passport to America: At the start of the fellowship, each participant receives a “Cultural Passport to America”, which is modeled to look loosely like a U.S. passport. For participation in cultural events and activities, Global UGRAD fellows receive Passport stamps from their university and college advisors, allowing staff to track the activities of their students in a fun but structured way. Through the Passport, fellows present how they have explored various aspects of U.S. culture and the linkages they’ve forged with Americans over the program year. The Passport also guides students in reflecting on how they’ve served as cultural ambassadors for their home countries while in the United States, and on their plans for sharing U.S. culture with their communities when returning home.
Alumni Programming (Small Grants): Global UGRAD alumni are eligible to apply for small grants to conduct community service projects, organize conferences or trainings, or release publications of scholarly work in their home countries. Since 1999, UGRAD alumni have implemented over 750 community service and professional development programs in their home countries.
Since the program’s inception, nearly 4,000 students have been placed at universities and community colleges in 48 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
In the last program year, fellows contributed over 3,000 hours of service to U.S. communities, benefiting thousands of individuals and nearly 200 organizations.
Over the past year, 84% of UGRAD Alumni have participated in community service activities in their home countries.