March 2021 Update for AFS-USA Volunteers about NSLI-Y Summer 2021 Programs

March 2021 Update for AFS-USA Volunteers about NSLI-Y Summer 2021 Programs

Please note that this message is internal and for reference by AFS-USA Volunteers regarding the NSLI-Y Summer 2021 program.

Warm spring greetings and we hope this message finds you well!

AFS has been informed that the U.S. Department of State has confirmed that the majority of NSLI-Y summer 2021 programs will be shifted from the in-person to virtual environments, and that candidates were informed of this yesterday evening (March 23) by email. A small number of in-person programs in Taiwan (Mandarin) and South Korea (Korean) may still occur.

We understand that this decision is exclusive to the NSLI-Y summer program and is completely independent of any decisions about the NSLI-Y year program, any AFS programs, or other inbound or outbound programs of the U.S. Department of State.

We all wish conditions would have permitted in-person programming, however, building on our successes with virtual programming in the summer of 2020, our NSLI-Y staff at AFS in the U.S. and in our partner countries are well-prepared and looking forward to designing and implementing a second summer of meaningful programming in the virtual environment. For a review of our summer 2020 virtual NSLI-Y program, take a look at our newsletter, here.

If you are working on NSLI-Y 2021 candidate interviews and will be conducting them this week (thank you!), please continue with your interview(s), as planned. We ask that you keep the following in mind during upcoming interviews:

  • Interviewers should proceed with their existing interviewing format and styles –do not change your approach, scoring, Interview Form comments, etc. based on this update.
  • Some candidates may not yet have read the program update, and we advise against proactively bringing this news up during the interview.
  • If the candidate mentions the shift to virtual, you can assure them that virtual programs are a valuable opportunity and additional details about the virtual program are being confirmed at this time and will be shared with those candidates selected for a program.
  • Candidates with questions or concerns about the virtual program or which programs may still occur in-person should reach the NSLI-Y advising staff at American Councils at 866-790-2086 or

Following is an excerpt from the notification that was sent to all NSLI-Y summer 2021 candidates.

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) continues to closely monitor the impact of COVID-19 globally and in each host location to best ensure conditions are suitable for a safe and quality in-person program.

NSLI-Y program selection is still ongoing at this time. All candidates will receive an application status update no later than April 23.

After carefully reviewing conditions in each NSLI-Y summer host location and consulting with U.S. Embassies and implementing organizations, ECA has determined that conditions in many of the NSLI-Y host locations are not suitable for in-person summer 2021 programming due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the high level U.S. Department of State and/or CDC travel advisories, travel and entry restrictions, public health challenges due to COVID-19.

Therefore, all Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, and Turkish overseas summer programs will be implemented virtually and referred to as the NSLI-Y Virtual Summer Intensive (VSI) program.

Some finalists for Chinese (Mandarin) and Korean may be placed in in-person  programs in Taiwan and South Korea, and some may be placed in the VSI program. Placement will be determined by a number of factors, including but not limited to finalists’ language level, visa/special entry permit age requirements, and host institution requirements. Placement assignments are final.

While we are disappointed that many NSLI-Y participants will not be able to travel overseas this summer the decision was made with the health and well-being of our program participants at the forefront. The NSLI-Y VSI programs offered robust and meaningful cultural and language learning opportunities in 2020; NSLI-Y implementing organizations are prepared to offer enriching virtual programs again this summer.

If you are contacted by students or parents with questions or concerns, kindly direct them to contact the NSLI-Y program at American Councils at 866-790-2068 or

We would like to again thank again everyone who worked on the NSLI-Y summer 2021 program, and especially those who worked (and are working!) on the interviews project. We truly appreciate your hard work and commitment to the NSLI-Y program! Volunteers with questions may reach the NSLI-Y staff at AFS-USA at 646-751-2238 or

With our appreciation and warm regards,

Melissa and Allen

Melissa Rossi, NSLI-Y Coordinator
Allen Evans, Manager, Outbound Sponsored Programs