Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program


The Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program (SEAYLP) brings sixty young people from Southeast Asia to the United States each year through a US Department of State grant. While here, these program participants learn about diversity and cultural appreciation, community action and activism, and networking and collaboration within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The program utilizes an active approach that includes community service, field trips to US sites and schools, group projects, classes, American family home stays, and engagement with community members in and around NIU.

Northern Illinois University and the Center for Southeast Asian Studiesare eager to welcome the eighth group of SEAYLP participants in 2015. We are eager to make SEAYLP-2015 the best yet, involving a growing number of community partners and academic units, including NIU's College of Education, Center for NGO Leadership and Development, and Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy.

In April, sixty SEAYLP participants from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam will travel to NIU. Here, they will engage in courses and workshops on environmental sustainability, supporting vulnerable groups, education for civic engagement, leadership, teambuilding, and cultural diversity, concluding with a four-day study tour of the nation’s capital.

This year’s program will also, welcome fifteen American high school students to join SEAYLP participants for a three-day Global Youth Leaders Camp. Like their Southeast Asian counterparts, these students will act as ambassadors for their country and represent the bright opportunities of a globalized future. US participants should have experience in community service and leadership and an eagerness to work with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. If you are an American 15-17 years old who lives in northern Illinois and are interested in this experience, you can find an informative letter and an application at right.

NIU is also recruiting families in the DeKalb-Sycamore community to host SEAYLP participants for one week (April 4-12). For many participants, the host family experience is the most meaningful part of their time here. Host homes provide a place for participants to develop one-on-one relationships with Americans, to understand the diversity of American culture, and to discover how alike (and how different) our families are. If you are interested in hosting, you can find information and a host family application at right.

At its heart, SEAYLP is a community effort and an opportunity for northern Illinois to connect to Southeast Asia. If you are interested in other opportunities to meet or volunteer with SEAYLP, there are several options to participate. For this and any questions related to SEAYLP, please contact our program staff by email at