How it works:
KI's Visiting Scholars program is multi-faceted and complex. Offering this opportunity requires much behind-the-scenes work from potential candidates and KI leadership. Below are the general steps that always happen to ensure this program runs successfully...
Fundraising is the the first step of the process and occurs approximately six-months prior to the quarter's start. KI leadership begins by performing outreach to allies and funding partners of its Visiting Scholars Program.
Historically, KI's Visiting Scholars Program (originally called the UCI-Tibet Initiative) was supported by the University of California, Irvine's (UCI) Offices of Student Affairs and Academic Personnel. This support was made possible through the pioneering efforts of Dr. Manuel Gomez, Emeritus Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs (and subsequently, his successor, Dr. Thomas Parham), and Dr. Herbert Killackey, Emeritus Provost of Academic Personnel. Through these offices, the Visiting Scholars Program was able to raise the requisite funds to welcome the Visiting Scholars at UCI between 2011-2019.
Today, while the academic partnership with UCI remains in tact, UCI funding support no longer exists. Kamalashila Initiative is now seeking new funding partners to make its Visiting Scholars Program possible. Please click here to support us!
Scholar Recruitment & Selection
Once the requisite funding is secured, KI leadership begins outreach with its Partners in India to begin the participant recruitment and selection process, a collaborative process between the Head of Education and the Abbot of each KI Partner Institution.
Different monasteries have different processes. Some institutions, like Gaden Shartse Monastery, select their own candidates and acquire their consent to participate. Other institutions, like the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) hold an open application period and then vet and select from an applicant pool. Once KI Partners have selected their Visiting Scholars, they send KI leadership a list of their candidates, from which a formal invitation letter is generated and sent to each candidate.
It is also important to note that, generally, only Geshes (or those on the path to achieving the title of Geshe) are offered an opportunity to participate in the Visiting Scholars Program.
Laying the groundwork for the Visiting Scholars Program takes work from all parties involved. After fundraising and scholar selection, the real work begins in making arrangements for the scholars to enter the United States and study for a quarter at one of KI's University Partner sites. The first essential factor in achieving this end is obtaining a J1 or F1 visa for all Visiting Scholars - a demanding process for both KI leadership and the Scholars.
The visa process takes approximately 90 days. On KI's end, leadership compiles and prepares all the necessary application documents and submit them on behalf of the scholars.
Then, during the waiting period, KI leadership is busy making arrangements for the Visiting Scholars' stay - coordinating housing, meal plans, and activities with University and Commmmunity Partners.
Once the visa is issued, KI leadership sends the document to the Scholars in India to start the process on their end. There, they must travel to the US Consulate in New Delhi to sit for a visa interview. It is important to note that Visiting Scholars incur costs of participation in the program, namely, fees for visa services, Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fees, and travel costs (both domestic for the visa process and for their international travel). Scholars find creative strategies to cover these costs such as obtaining a scholarship from their monastery, finding individual private sponsors, or dipping into their personal savings.
Once their Visa is successfully approved, KI leadership rounds out the process by ensuring they have the requisite medical insurance coverage. Now, everything is in place for the Visiting Scholars to begin their journey!
10-Week Stay with Intensive Study Program & Cultural Exchange Activities
Once the Visiting Scholars arrive, all the following essential arrangements have been made on their behalf (costs of which are all covered through KI fundraising):
Study program / tuition (sample Intensive ESL program)
Activities / Engagements
You can find more information in the Program Overview about the experience Visiting Scholars gain and about some of the Offerings that they exchange with the local community.