International Public Policy (IIPP) Fellowship

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International Public Policy (IIPP) Fellowship

(U.S. ASIAN WIRE) April 28, 2008

Asian Pacific Americans are underrepresented in U.S. international affairs despite the many contributions they have made. To help increase diversity in this growing field, the Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP), a prestigious fellowship of the UNCF Special Programs Corporation (UNCFSP), prepares Asian Pacific Americans and other college students of color for a wide range of international careers.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor the global contributions of some Asian Pacific Americans and to highlight how that legacy continues in the U.S. international arena with younger generations who are IIPP fellows.

"These are enormously challenging and exciting times in international affairs and public policy," says Darryl Crompton, IIPP Director. "The contributions that Asian Pacific Americans make are crucial because diversity in the international arena is imperative."

Valued at almost $100,000, the IIPP fellowship, now entering its 14th year, is the hallmark of UNCFSP. Nearly 300 minority students have been placed in over 50 countries. Applying during the spring of their sophomore years in college, IIPP Fellows later study global issues through a well-structured curriculum. Currently, 16 percent of IIPP program participants are Asian Pacific American.

A NUMBER OF 'FIRSTS'
Overcoming post-World War II anti-Japanese sentiment and gender bias, the late Patsy T. Mink, a second-generation Japanese American, achieved a number of "firsts." She became the first Asian Pacific American Assistant Secretary of State and first Asian Pacific American woman elected to Congress, where she served 12 terms.

Julia Chang Bloch, who was born in China, began her U.S. international affairs career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia and later served in Nepal as the first appointed Asian Pacific American ambassador.

During his 28 years with the U.S. State Department, William Itoh, born in Japan, became the first U.S. ambassador to rise through the Foreign Service ranks. He served as both Deputy Executive Secretary and Acting Executive Secretary. Sichan Siv, a native of Cambodia, fled to America from forced labor camps to become the first U.S. ambassador of Southeast Asian heritage.

CONTRIBUTIONS OF ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN IIPP FELLOWS
During the beginning of the SARS epidemic in 2003, IIPP Fellow Ruby Marcelo, a Filipina American, traveled to China to study abroad. Marcelo remembers seeing the first student attend class in a hospital mask. More students donned these protective masks until nearly everyone on campus wore one.

Marcelo never imagined being in the midst of an international news story, but values the opportunity. "It was amazing to be in Shanghai during this time," she says.

After growing up in Germany and Hawaii, when Marcelo enrolled at Beloit College in Wisconsin, a degree in international affairs was a natural choice. Hindered by the expense of travel abroad, a classmate's e-mail describing IIPP helped get her career started.

IIPP Fellow Kuong Ly was seven when his family left a Cambodian refugee camp as survivors of Pol Pot-a brutal regime responsible for more than two million deaths. Recently recognized as a 2007 Truman Scholar, Ly, who is Southeast Asian, will soon celebrate his graduation from Boston College. His career plans are to champion refugee rights, particularly those of women. "When you look at refugee camps, 80 percent are women and children," Ly says. "The men are simply killed."

He plans to work directly with refugees who have suffered trauma, and educate policy makers about the "invisible scars" that trauma causes. Ly's IIPP study abroad experience took him to Rwanda, where he collected oral histories from the survivors of the recent human tragedy there.

"Having all the opportunities I've had makes me obligated to my community--to the world," he says. "There are very few programs that empower students of color. The IIPP gives you a network to ensure that you'll be successful."

Aiyu Yuan, another IIPP Fellow who is a Georgetown University student, credits the IIPP program with helping her achieve important goals. A Chinese American who speaks Arabic, Yuan chose to study in Egypt and worked with a Cairo-based organization to help women secure identification cards. "A lot of women are never registered at birth," Yuan explains. Those women must "produce birth certificates from their mothers, fathers and other relatives. It's a huge process," she says.

Yuan selected the UNCFSP IIPP fellowship because of the program's broad definition of international affairs. She explains, "The fellowship helped me understand that international affairs isn't just (about) diplomacy, but it applies to everything."

Visit www.UNCFSP.org/IIPP for more information about the IIPP Fellowship Program.