Scholarships and Funding

SIIF: Student International Initiative Fund

About the Grant:

The SIIF program awards small grants to students to pursue projects abroad that 1) spring from their own interests, 2) help grantees have a deeper cultural/educational experience, and 3) can be brought back and shared with the wider campus community.

SIIF grants are reimbursement grants—there is no up front monetary award. Grant award maximum is $500.

Designing Your Project

The best projects spring from students’ own interests. Otherwise, why do it? But the more passionate you are about something, or the more curious and determined, then the more likely it is that you’ll be approved (because we value passion and determination) and the more likely it is that your project will succeed.

You may want to explore something entirely new to you with your project. Perhaps you have never learned how to play a musical instrument and want to try. Or, your project may represent an extension of something you already do, but in a new context. Perhaps you write poetry and attend open mic nights on-campus and want to explore the literary scene while abroad. Both approaches to a project can work, though sometimes the confidence and experience of the person further exploring something they already have familiarity with makes that project go better. It’s often harder to do the things you propose to do than it seems when you are scheming in advance!

Think outside of the box. Some of the best projects have been unconventional in topic or approach. Signing up and paying for lessons at a school is relatively straightforward; asking some street musicians to teach you how to play the charango (to use a recent example) is riskier, but may also offer a more unique experience.

The funding is only part of the benefit of the grant. The other part is some confidence and a sense of purpose. It’s one thing to say “I’m interested in learning more about…” and it’s another to say “I am doing a research project on…” Think about how this project can help you get access to things you might be otherwise too shy to investigate.

Examples of SIIF Grants:

James studied abroad in Senegal [Link]. He wanted to learn a traditional Senegalese musical instrument called a kora. Funded by a Student International Initiative Fund grant, James bought a kora and started taking lessons. He spent his spring break as a guest student of the country’s greatest living kora player.

Megan’s passion was food. When she arrived in Spain [Link], instead of enrolling in an expensive cooking school that caters to tourists, Megan wanted a more authentic experience. Her approach was unconventional; she approached the chefs of the restaurants she frequented and asked them for informal lessons. And many of them said yes! Megan got to learn how to cook classic Spanish cuisine from the experts themselves.

Japan [Link] is a nation of thousands of diverse and well-developed subcultures. As such, Andrew and Gwynne both had many open doors to chose from in Japan. Andrew joined a taiko ensemble. The group, which ranged from young children to the elderly, met twice a week to practice the sophisticated and physically challenging art of taiko drumming. Andrew had to function entirely in Japanese to practice and perform with the group, which became like a family to him. Taiko was the doorway through which Andrew entered Japanese culture. Through it he started to feel a sense of belonging. Gwynne was interested in martial arts, in particular, kendo, the art of swordsmanship. She sought out one of the oldest and most traditional dojos in Kyoto, and even though most practitioners were men, Gwynne impressed them with her language and kendo skills, and was able to study with some of the best martial artists in the world.

Michael was an athlete who wanted to stay connected to sports during his semester in Ireland. [Link] Before he went, he found an in-line hockey league in Galway, and he emailed them to ask if they were accepting new players. They were, and when he arrived the team was expecting him. He played with them every weekend, and before his semester finished he had traveled with the team to every county in Ireland, something that most visitors to Ireland rarely do.

Eligibility:

SIIF grants are available to HWS students studying abroad on semester or year-long programs. Students participating in short-term programs (Summer, J-Term) are not eligible to apply. Recipients of Study in Japan Grants, Blocker Fellowships and Maastricht Enrichment Grants are not eligible to apply for SIIF grants. SIIF grants cannot be used for travel to countries on the State Department Travel Warning list, and certain activities may be prohibited because of high risk.

How to Apply:

This might be your first time writing a grant proposal. A grant proposal is an essay in which clearly explain the who, what, where, how and crucially, why, of your project idea. Please include the following sections:

Heading: Title of grant, name of applicant and complete contact information.

Executive Summary: explain your project in one sentence. For example: In Seville I will purchase a guitar and take flamenco guitar lessons from a Spanish instructor, and when I return I will perform three pieces that I learned at Away Café.

Narrative Description: describe the rationale for your grant, including how your project will meet all three goals above. Be as specific about how you will pursue your project as possible and don’t forget to discuss how you will share it upon your return to campus.

Equipment Loan (optional): Do you need a video camera, digital SLR or point-n-shoot camera, audio recorder, video camera to complete your grant? The CGE has a stock of excellent equipment to loan out to students. Include any desired equipment in your grant proposal.

Budget: Be as specific as possible; try looking up example prices on the internet. You might also need/want to contact the program you will be studying with for information that will help you make your grant more concrete. The budget should be in the following format:

      1. Hotel expenses in Donegal: $20 for 5 nights = $100
      2. Fiddle lessons: $50 x 3 lessons                     = $150
      3. Travel to/from Donegal                                   = $100
      4. TOTAL                                                             = $350

Reimbursement Process:

You will be reimbursed for project expenses after you have demonstrated meeting all three of the grant requirements. You must also document expenses by saving and compiling receipts.

Application Tips:

How will you share your project when you get back? You can write for the Herald, Martini, or the Aleph. You can make a digital story, a zine or tell a story about your project at Away Café. You can even record a cd of music. All students must also attend a short presentation skills workshop, and prepare a 3-minute talk about their project at the CGE’s annual spring “Triple Event.”

Be specific! The narrower the focus of your project and the more well-thought out the project is, the greater the chance of success. You cannot really expect to make a movie about “Vietnam and the World,” but you could make a film about your service project teaching dance at a Vietnamese High School. SIIF is about using a very specific interest as an entry-point into a wider understanding of the culture.

Contact Tom D’Agostino at tdagostino@hws.edu and/or Scott MacPhail at macphail@hws.edu for more information.

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Hobart and William Smith Colleges
300 Pulteney Street
Geneva, NY 14456

Phone: (315) 781-3307
Fax: (315) 781-3023

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Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

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