2014 Fellow Mr. Naif Yusoff of Brunei Darussalam (left), with His Excellency Dato Paduka Haji Yusoff Haji Abdul Hamid

2014 Fellow Mr. Naif Yusoff of Brunei Darussalam (left), with His Excellency Dato Paduka Haji Yusoff Haji Abdul Hamid

Since 1982, the US-Asia Institute has organized a number of Professional Development Programs for a variety of participants from China, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia to facilitate their understanding of the United States, its people and culture, its Government, rule of law, the political and economic environment, and the policy-making process. Past participants have been from the government, academic and business sectors at a range of levels – young leaders to established professionals, depending upon the focus of the particular program. Past focuses have been in the area of rule of law, security, strategic concerns, economics, the political process, governing, etc. At different times, we’ve had between one and fifteen participants. Funding for the program has come from private and corporate donations as well as grants, and in the late 1980s with US Information Agency funding. The participants travel to the United States for one to six months, and are immersed in a program tailored to their interests. The main part of the program would be conducted in Washington, D.C. with possible side excursions to other locations.

A typical program would include (but not be limited to):

  • Orientation: An overview of the US and its people and culture, its government, and other specifics tailored to the program participants is provided via written materials, and once on-site, through a preliminary session at the beginning of the program. Reviews continue throughout as new material/topics/experiences arise to ensure participant comprehension.

  • Observation: Participants are scheduled to attend appropriate briefings, meetings, hearings and other events/programs on a cross-section of topics at D.C. area think tanks, academic institutions, private firms, and in Congress. They are then asked to provide post written and/or oral summaries and analyses via discussion with assigned US-Asia Institute staff to ensure understanding and to promote analytic thought.

  • Shadowing: They are also paired with various offices/individuals in a short-term professional development “shadowing” component. This helps facilitate understanding of topics and/or processes for government or other aspects “in action” helping participants to develop an observational knowledge base while being able to engage these experts in discussion. This aspect allows participants to see firsthand how government works or how an organization or a person influences government, etc. in real time.

  • Interaction: Participants meet with relevant subject matter experts in the Administration, on Capitol Hill, from business and academia, etc. These one-on-one conversations help to inform participants on varied approaches to governing and provide a basis for future networking and development. They are accompanied by US-Asia Institute staff to ensure understanding and to facilitate the dialogue.

  • Shared Learning: Participants are asked to prepare a briefing on their country/topics of interest vis-à-vis the bilateral and regional relationship with the United States. The US-Asia Institute builds an audience for this briefing. The Institute firmly believes that those chosen for the professional development program have a role to play in informing US policy influencers and others about their country and areas of interest. Many times, knowledge is limited.

  • Cultural Enhancement: During evenings and on weekends, participants will explore the Washington, D.C. area and visit other cities in the region with the supervision and/or approval of the US-Asia Institute. They will be able to interact with other Americans in a wide range of social settings and experiences.

For purposes of this program, the US-Asia Institute will help to arrange housing, if needed, while the participant is in the Washington, D.C. area, and will make arrangements for participant transportation and other logistical and administrative details as required. Further, the US-Asia Institute will oversee the professional development program, ensuring participants meet the criteria and take away an expanded understanding and appreciation, enabling them to return to their country to share this knowledge and experience and to apply it as appropriate.

Former Participants:

Eveleen Wan with USAI interns and Rule of Law fellows

Eveleen Wan with USAI interns and Rule of Law fellows

Over summer 2017, USAI hosted WAN Xing “Eveleen” – a Program Officer with the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Department of the Sichuan Provincial People’s Government from Chengdu, China – as a Professional Development Fellow.    Sponsored by USAI Senior Advisor Robert Jordan, Eveleen spent June 3 – August 3, 2017 in Washington, DC to more fully understand the American political system, and the US-China relationship from an American perspective.   Through one-on-one meetings, attending briefings and hearings, and interacting with American government officials, business and academic leaders, and peers, Eveleen gained a deeper understanding of the political system and process. While in Washington D.C. she also was able to participate in some of the 2017 USAI Szymanski Rule of Law Program meetings and interface with the Thai American National Interns as well as the USAI Team. USAI started the Professional Development Program in 1982 to provide emerging professionals the opportunity to learn more about the United States, its people, its, culture and its government through hands-on observation.  

Other past participants have include PU Ning (China), J.W. Kim (Korea), HE Zhigeng (China), Hua Jin (China) and Naif Yusoff (Brunei).

Joji Konoshima Fund:


In 1979, Joji Konoshima and Esther G. Kee founded the US-Asia Institute with the goal of enhancing relations between the United States and the countries of Asia. Though Mr. Konoshima passed away in September 2003, his legacy continues through the Joji Konoshima Memorial Fund. This fund was established by the Konoshima family at Mr. Konoshima’s request in order to carry on his work and legacy of service. The first program funded through this initiative was the Joji Konoshima Distinguished Scholar program. This program allows a select distinguished American or Asian leader from business, academia or government to study an issue of concern or interest to the US-Asia relationship as designated by the US-Asia Institute and the Joji Konoshima Memorial Fund Trustees. The scholar will travel to the country of interest and spend up to two months researching, observing organizations in action, and meeting with key individuals who can offer unique perspectives on the topic area. A white paper on the subject matter will be written by the scholar and published by the US-Asia Institute. The Memorial Fund will pay all international travel, domestic travel, housing, meal, local transportation, and associated administrative fees (copying, editing, etc.) for the scholar throughout the duration of this project. The resulting white paper will become the intellectual property of USAI; however, the scholar reserves the right to write related articles and publications using the research materials gained through this program. Past recipients of the Joji Konoshimai Distinguished Scholar Award are Dr. Yang Jiemian (2004) and Dr. Yasuhiro Matsuda (2006).

Notice: The US-Asia Institute is currently seeking a scholar on Korean issues for the next Joji Konoshima Distinguished Scholar Award. If you feel you are qualified, please contact us for further details.

Norman Lau-Kee and Esther G. Kee Fund: Norman Lau-Kee and Esther G. Kee are two founding members of the US-Asia Institute. They established a fund similar to that of the Joji Konoshima Memorial Fund entitled the “Norman and Esther Lau Kee Fund”. The first program funded by the Norman and Esther Lau Kee Fund was the Distinguished Visitor Award. The Distinguished Visitor Award is granted to an outstanding Asian individual from the business, government, or academic community. The visitor will travel to the United States to engage in briefings, speeches, and meetings with key groups and individuals on an issue of relevance to US-Asian relations. The visitor will be sponsored by the US-Asia Institute which will pay all international travel, domestic travel, housing, meals, local transportation, and associated administrative fees (copying, editing, etc.) for the scholar throughout the duration of the visit. Past recipients include the Honorable Elsie Leung, former Secretary for Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2006).

For more information, please contact :

Mary sue bissell, USAI President
E-mail : mary.sue.bissell@usasiainstitute.org Phone: 202-544-3181