Henry Richardson Labouisse 1926 global service fellowships support recent graduates in Asia and Africa

Written by
Pooja Makhijani, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
Nov. 22, 2022

Two Princeton University fellowship programs — Princeton in Asia (PiA) and Princeton in Africa (PiAf) — have long given recent graduates the opportunity to pursue internship opportunities across the Asian and African continents. The programs are open to graduates of any university, and, combined, have placed 4,000 graduates in more than 60 countries. The disruptions of COVID-19 altered placements somewhat, but this fall, both programs are cautiously back, fostering person-to-person diplomacy, enhancing mutual understanding, contributing to communities, and providing transformative experiences for fellows and host communities.

PiA and PiAf have also been bolstered by a one-time contribution by the Henry Richardson Labouisse 1926 Prize, which funded five recent Princeton graduates instead of the usual three. Emmanuel Kreike, professor of history and chair of the Labouisse selection committee, calls the collaboration “a major effort to help jumpstart Princeton’s programming to serve humanity at home and abroad.” The necessity of these fellowships has never been timelier, he says. “We live in a dark moment of history marked by fake news and distrust that fan the flames of hate causing conflict and human suffering. And the isolation and physical and mental health impacts of the biggest pandemic in a century were a major factor in creating deep divides.”

M.B. Dillon ’06, executive director of PiA, is excited for this next chapter in the organization’s evolution: “We’ve made a lot of investments in health, safety and security so that we can support fellows in this new world,” he says. “PiA has focused on English teaching in the past, and that will always remain important to us, but we have exciting new placements in environmental sustainability, arts and culture, and public health — trying to find multiple pathways for engagement and building connections with Asia.”

Humility, mutuality and interdependence are PiA’s guiding values, Dillon adds, and have provided the organization with a steady foundation in these times of tumult. “The learning goes both ways,” he says. “Our fellows are dedicated to professional service but aren’t coming in with ‘the answers’ or seeking to change the place they’re going to be. The mission is to support, to learn, to contribute.” PiA’s host organizations make the decision as to whom to hire, he explains. “We’re not just saying, ‘Here’s your person; enjoy!’ Our host organizations also invest in the partnership by paying the fellow a stipend.”

Tuul Galzagd is the director of the eco-banking department at XacBank, whose team is leading the way in financing clean energy products in Mongolia; by making these products more affordable, they hope to help to improve the air quality in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital. XacBank has partnered with PiA since 2006 and appreciates this mutually beneficial partnership and the fellows that PiA sends year-after-year. “What we are doing is very unique,” Galzagd says. “The fellows help develop proposals that we use to mobilize funds from the international financial institutions, mainly from climate funds and climate investors. Report monitoring [to institutions] is a huge task. We have to make these documents in English, so that is the part where our fellows work.”

Two Henry Richardson Labouisse 1926 fellows tell Princeton International about their experiences in-country thus far and how their time in community with others continues to shape and influence their academic and professional trajectories.

Matthew Fuller ’20, Foundation for Community Development and Empowerment (FCDE) in Uganda

Matthew Fuller ’20

Matthew Fuller ’20

Matthew Fuller ’20 heard about PiAf as a first-year student in an African history class; James Floyd, vice president emeritus of the program, was a guest speaker. “Ever since then, it was something that I was really interested in doing,” he says. “The mission stuck out and the opportunities stood out, just in terms of their focus on responsible development and also professional development.”

Fuller graduated at the height of the pandemic with a concentration in history and certificates in the history and practice of diplomacy and African studies. He worked with USAID and the National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit American NGO that works with partners in developing countries to increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions, all the while keeping an eye on PiAf opportunities.

He is in Kampala, Uganda, a fellow with Foundation for Community Development and Empowerment (FCDE), which helps countries reach their own sustainable development objectives by increasing the capacity of existing nongovernmental organizations and community-based organizations. “FCDE helps build skills and institutional knowledge with local, often rural, organizations through training, coaching and workshops,” he says. “I work on fostering strategic relationships with other organizations that are usually based out of Kampala. That is something a little bit newer for the organization.”

Fuller has enjoyed getting to know FCDE’s partners in Kampala, as well as his colleagues, whom he often watches soccer with. “I’ve heard the term ‘mission-driven’ a lot in international development work,” he says. “But by working with coworkers who are often from the communities that we work with, it brings a whole new meaning to what it means to be mission-driven and what that looks like.”

Aemu Anteneh ’22, XacBank in Mongolia

Aemu Anteneh ’22

Aemu Anteneh ’22

Aemu Anteneh ’22 has a wide variety of academic interests. She chose to concentrate in operations research and financial engineering because of her many curiosities: math, engineering, computer science, finance. As an undergraduate, she pursued internship opportunities at an asset management firm and a startup. She also has a keen desire to travel: While at Princeton, prior to COVID-19, she studied abroad for a summer in Spain and participated in a PIIRS Global Seminar in India.

PiA offered her a postgraduate opportunity to marry her professional interests with her desire to live and work outside of the U.S. “Most fellowships don’t quite touch the career interests that I have,” she says. “I love that PiA has a lot of business posts.”

Anteneh has been eyeing her current position — a fellow in XacBank’s eco-banking department — since her sophomore year. “It’s actually quite revolutionary, not just here but throughout the world,” she says. “XacBank is a pioneer in what they do in financing sustainable projects and working with international organizations on expanding environmental activism.”

She appreciates PiA’s commitment to cross-cultural exchange. “I really like the idea of approaching the job more than just as a job — not just the clock-in-and-clock-out, but embracing the community as a whole, not just falling into the expat bubble,” she says. “I’m asking a lot of questions, and I’m super curious about everything. From my end, I’m one of the only Black people in Mongolia. So definitely a lot of interest there — I’ve been able to share more about my identity as an African American. It’s definitely a two-way street.”