At a Glance

November 11, 2019 11:59 pm EST

Undergraduate students with financial need and limited travel experience

Fully funded, international hip hop diplomacy program over spring break

Iyman Ahmed

ID# 11141 | Last Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The UNC Next Level Fellowship provides funding for two undergraduate students to accompany UNC Professor of Music Mark Katz as interns in La Paz, Bolivia during spring break for the Next Level hip hop diplomacy program. Through this experience, fellows will….

  • Serve as cultural ambassadors and active participants both in helping to prepare the Next Level Bolivia team before the experience and in supporting Next Level staff and artists during their time abroad
  • Learn about the history and workings of U.S. cultural diplomacy, U.S.–Bolivian relations, Bolivian history and culture, and Bolivian hip hop
  • Interact with U.S. and Bolivian performance artists, meet U.S. Embassy staff, and visit important cultural sites in La Paz
  • Develop skills in cultural diplomacy, research and intercultural exchange

Next Level is a U.S. government-supported cultural exchange program that sends American performance artists (rappers, dancers, beatmakers, DJs, graffiti artists and others) to work in underserved communities around the world to promote global community, entrepreneurship, and conflict transformation. Activities focus on musical entrepreneurship, conducting workshops and discussions on global music business best practices today. The Next Level program is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Meridian International Center. Its mission is to use hip hop music, dance, and art to foster cross-cultural creative exchange in diverse communities.

Applicant Profile

We seek applications from students with financial need and no or limited prior global travel. We encourage students of all backgrounds and perspectives to apply regardless of their academic discipline, age, disabilities, educational or family background, gender identity, racial or ethnic identity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.

Applicants must:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen
  2. Be a UNC undergraduate
  3. Have limited or no global travel experience
  4. Demonstrate financial need through one of the following:
    • Need-based financial aid eligibility as determined by your FAFSA
    • A narrative statement, if the other option does not apply, that discusses need


  • Conversational Spanish
  • Interest in hip hop

NOTE: Examples of possible tasks associated with this experience include conducting research on Bolivian history and culture, logistical support for the team manager and videographer, fieldwork-related support for Prof. Katz, and Spanish-English translation/interpretation (if qualified). No prior experience is required! 

Application Components

The initial application is completed online, and you can preview the application before you begin. The application consists of the following:

  • Application form, including name and contact information
  • Five short answer questions
  • Supporting financial documentation (if required)
  • List of past global travel experience (if any)
  • One reference
  • UNC Honor Pledge

Selected students will be invited for an interview with staff members from CGI and Next Level.

Evaluation of Applicants

Applications are evaluated by CGI and Next Level staff. In addition to the eligibility criteria, the following criteria will be considered:

Personal Need

  • Does the applicant require resources (i.e. funds, network) in order to complete the opportunity? Do they appear to be able to access other resources?
  • Would participation in the global opportunity allow the applicant to gain new, relevant global experience they wouldn’t otherwise have?
  • Will the experience encourage the applicant to explore other global opportunities and with greater depth?

Diversity of Background & Perspective

(Read more about our Opening Access work to learn more.)
  • Does the candidate bring an experience, perspective, and/or a background that has traditionally been underrepresented in global experiences?
  • Does the student face barriers to global experiences that are challenging to overcome through traditional global programs and opportunities?
  • Has the candidate demonstrated individual initiative which will help them maintain self-motivation and work independently?

Impact and Alignment with Academic & Career Goals

  • How will the proposed opportunity contribute deeply to the applicant’s stated career and academic goals?
  • How likely is the experience to impact a wide group of other UNC students and community members once the applicant returns?

Feasibility & Commitment

  • Does the applicant have the required language, technical and cultural skills necessary to successfully complete the project?
  • How adaptable and capable is the student in dealing with uncertainty and unexpected changes?

Application Timeline

  • Online application deadline: November 11, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Application status notification: No later than January 1, 2019

Award Requirements

If selected for participation, all awardees must:

  • Meet with faculty advisor, Mark Katz, prior to the experience to discuss logistics and receive instructions for pre-departure readings and tasks
  • Complete an online survey before and after the trip
  • Submit a final report after the experience
  • Attend debrief with faculty advisor
  • Present at one of the following:
    • The Center for Global Initiatives’ Global Projects Showcase (three offered per semester)
    • UNC Development event
    • Other approved speaking engagement

Related Information Sessions & Events

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