W.T. Chan Fellowships FAQ

What are the goals of the W.T. Chan Fellowships Program? The program goals are to provide educational and leadership opportunities through service at non-profit community-based organizations in the United States. The program offers the opportunity to gain first-hand experience working in non-profit organizations and the communities they serve. The program also seeks to strengthen linkages between academia and communities, as well as between the United States and China.

Who are selected as W.T. Chan Fellows? The Lingnan Foundation seeks to select individuals who embody the Lingnan motto: Education for Service. Chan Fellows want to contribute their talents to help make the world a better place. The selection panel looks for other qualities that are essential for a successful W.T. Chan Fellowships program experience: experience and interest in service or non-profit work, maturity, flexibility, personal initiative and commitment.

Is English Language ability an important criteria for selection? No, English language proficiency or fluency are not as important as interest or commitment to serving others.

What kind of work do Chan Fellows do while in the United States? Chan Fellows spend the majority of their days working at nonprofit community organizations either in Los Angeles or the Bay Area. Fellows assist by providing direct or indirect services. Examples of direct service are offering classes for seniors in elderly homes, providing legal advice to immigrants, or encouraging high school students from disadvantaged communities to apply to college. Indirect services might include writing reports, drafting grant proposals, writing questionnaire surveys, and other administrative tasks. Different organizations have different needs and it is the job of the Chan Fellow to find a way to make a meaningful contribution. For more information about current Fellows' work programs please visit their page and for past Fellows' work programs, please click here.

What are "nonprofit organizations"? Nonprofit organizations work for the public good. They work in all fields: environment, education, arts, heath, law, and often seek to assist the disadvantaged. Examples of such organizations include hospitals, homeless shelters, youth groups, museums, and many other organizations in every community. In the U.S, 6% of all organizations are non-profits. Often, nonprofit organizations are referred to as NGOs (non-governmental organizations).

The Chan Fellowships sound very challenging. What are the most challenging aspects of the program? The program puts the Fellows in very unfamiliar situations and settings. Fellows spend their days in different work environments and live in homestays. In both settings, there may be different expectations, habits and even goals. Chan Fellows are sometimes assigned to work in disadvantaged neighborhoods and find it unsettling to travel to and work in the rougher areas of LA and the Bay Area. Finally, Chan Fellows work and live independently and may find it difficult to adjust to living in the U.S. under these circumstances. However, in facing these new challenges, Chan Fellows gain deep new insights into American culture and customs, the role and function of community service organizations within the U.S., and themselves.

Do W.T. Chan Fellows have the freedom to create their own projects or are they assigned to specific projects by their host organizations? The hope is to match each Fellow with an organization's needs. In some cases, the organizations seek out Fellows who can implement new programs. In these cases, the Chan Fellows have created new programs. As examples, former Chan Fellows have developed Chinese culture classes for young people, computer classes for seniors, and written new grant proposals. In other cases, the organization needs assistance on ongoing projects. Examples of ongoing support offered by Chan Fellows include outreach to young people and immigrant workers, researching environmental law cases, and assisting with ongoing housing programs.

Must Chan Fellows have experience in social work? Chan Fellows do not need academic or practical experience in social work. This is a service learning program, not a social work program, where Chan Fellows are challenged to learn through contributing their services to a organization worthy of support. The program is not appropriate for anyone seeking a practicum in social work. In fact, those seeking specific training in areas related to social work may be disappointed because clinical placements in the U. S. require licenses or other requirements that Chan Fellows might not possess.

How is the W.T. Chan Fellowships Program managed? Three organizations manage the W.T. Chan Fellowships Program: the Lingnan Foundation, UCLA and UC-Berkeley.

Lingnan Foundation manages the selection competition for the program. After the Fellows are selected, former Chan Fellows organize an "O'camp" orientation to help the Fellows better understand the content and goals of the program. In the U.S., there are two sites and different program managers:

In Los Angeles, the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars at UCLA implements the program. They host an orientation, reflections, a weekly seminar, and place the Fellows at their work sites. They also arrange for the Fellows' housing. One program manager attends to these many details, under the supervision of the Dashew Center's Director.

At Berkeley, UC-Berkeley's Cal Corps for Public Service hosts the program. While the program content is slightly different from UCLA, Cal Corps also hosts an orientation, reflections, organizes related activities and most importantly, sets up the Fellows' internships. They also arrange the Fellows' housing. One program manager attends to all these details, under the supervision of the Cal Corps' Director.

How much supervision and guidance do the Chan Fellows receive from the program managers? Program managers from the Bruincorps and Cal Corps work directly with the Fellows' hosts to insure that the internship experience is meaningful and valuable. There is regular contact between the program organizers and the Chan Fellows, including formal reflection meetings. However, the program emphasizes independence and leadership. Chan Fellows encounter many new situations while working independently at their host organizations and cannot always rely on the program managers to solve problems. This is one of the important challenges all Chan Fellows face.

Does this program offer academic credit? No, the program is intended to enhance the Fellows' firsthand understanding of service work, leadership, and inter-cultural understanding and, as such, does not focus on academic credentials.

How does the program make use of academic knowledge? Since nonprofit organizations work in almost every field, Chan Fellows rely on knowledge learned at the university level to understand and carry out their work. The program offers the chance to apply academic knowledge to real world situations and circumstances.

Where do the Fellows live while in the United States? After a short orientation at either UCLA or UC-Berkeley, the Fellows live in American homes in homestays. They have their own rooms. They join their hosts at meals and take part in other joint activities. To many, this is the most challenging aspect of the W.T. Chan Fellows program but can also be the most rewarding. The homestay sites are selected and assigned by homestay agencies and the hosts are interviewed by staff at UCLA and UC-Berkeley to assure that the placement is suitable.

Is it possible to travel around the country while on the program? Yes, there is time set aside at the end of the program for travel. This is arranged individually and no additional funding for travel is provided.

Is it possible to return home during the program period? No, Fellows are expected to stay in the United States during the full duration of their program; they are permitted to return home only under very special circumstances.

What is the role of the Lingnan Foundation? The Lingnan Foundation initiated the program and provides the financial support. As the funder, the Lingnan Foundation seeks to evaluate the program on an annual basis. It has organized retreats to speak with the Fellows directly about their experiences. Lingnan Foundation staff members also seek to stay in touch with all past and present Chan Fellows to learn how the program experience influences their lives.