Freeman Fellows In Asia

Last year, 19 Elliott School graduate students set off for various destinations across Asia to intern for NGOs, the U.S. Department of State, for-profit companies, social enterprise startups and humanitarian assistance organizations. All of these students had received Freeman Foundation grants that enabled their travel, supported living expenses and offered a modest stipend to finance their otherwise unpaid internships. The students applied through and received assistance from the Graduate Student Services (GSS) office throughout the application process.

Nickolas Sorensen, M.A. ’19, headed to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to work for an Australian-owned social enterprise called SHE Investments. There, he created workshops for micro-enterprises, applying for grants in order to help the businesses achieve growth and navigate the country’s bureaucracy. This is Sorensen’s fourth stint in Asia; he has previously worked in Nepal, Taiwan and India. After graduating, Nic plans to return to Asia for full-time work in humanitarian assistance.

For Breanna Bethel, M.A. ’19, Asia was a completely new experience. Having traveled extensively in Europe, she wanted to experience something less familiar and set her sights on China. She was hired by the State Department’s Shanghai office to help manage local contracts and administration for one of the largest diplomatic posts in China. Despite experiencing stronger culture shock than she had anticipated, Bethel still dramatically improved her spoken Chinese, learned the fine art of Chinese dumpling making and gave a presentation to Chinese nationals about the differences between rural and urban America. She also is eager to explore more of Asia and next hopes to travel to Japan.

The generous Freeman Foundation grants were enabled by Mansfield Freeman, a member of the original management group that started an insurance business in China at the turn of the 20th century. The fledgling business grew into the behemoth American International Group (AIG). Freeman also was a prominent scholar of Chinese philosophy and the founder of the Freeman Foundation, created to promote mutual cross-cultural understanding between Asia and the United States.

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