pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

Next Gen


1. What is the Hawaii APAL Program?


The Hawaii Asia-Pacific Affairs Leadership (APAL) Program is one of Pacific Forum’s next-generation leadership development efforts and is the organization’s only program dedicated exclusively to Hawaii residents.


The program provides undergraduates, graduate students, service members, and young professionals with the opportunity to learn about Asia-Pacific affairs and think critically about Hawaii’s role in the region through a monthly speaker series, local site visits, research, and conference travel.

2. How is this program different from other Hawaii programs that focus on young people, leadership, and Asia-Pacific issues?


The Hawaii APAL Program is the only foreign policy-focused program run by a think-tank that focuses specifically on early-career Hawaii residents. The nine-month curriculum introduces participants to numerous foreign policy perspectives in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as traditional and non-traditional security issues. Unlike other equally valuable programs, we do not emphasize international travel or cultural exchange as conduits to understanding regional affairs.

3. Who is eligible for the program?


Individuals between 18–30 years of age are welcome to apply for the program. Applicants must be based in Oahu from October of the year the cohort begins through June of the following year.

4. When do you accept applications?


We accept applications in the preceding spring and summer for the cohort that begins in the fall. An application form can be found here.

5. What are you looking for in applicants?


We are seeking motivated students and young professionals from a broad range of backgrounds. A strong interest in international affairs, demonstrated community service, great communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively are attributes that program coordinators look for during the recruitment period. A positive attitude is highly desirable.

6. How many people will be accepted to the program?


We accept 10–12 individuals per program cycle.

7. I have no background in political science, international relations, or foreign policy. Am I still eligible?


Yes, we encourage applications from all academic and professional backgrounds. Past participants have held careers in law, medicine, theology, economic development, education, and urban development. Note that Pacific Forum’s area of focus is foreign policy and security studies, so much of the material will be from these perspectives.

8. After I complete the program, am I automatically guaranteed acceptance into the Young Leaders Program?


No, successful completion of the Hawaii APAL Program does not guarantee admission into the Young Leaders (YL) Program. Participants must apply for the YL Program separately. However, participation in the APAL program does give special consideration to YL applicants.

9. Will I have the opportunity to travel to Pacific Forum’s international conferences and dialogues as part of this program?

Thanks to a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation, program participants are allowed a travel stipend to attend a Pacific Forum conference overseas. Opportunities can change from year to year. For a listing of past Pacific Forum conferences and workshops, view the Calendar of Events.

10. What kinds of activities do participants engage in?


Over the nine-month program cycle, participants are expected to attend one to two required meetings per month that discuss key Asia-Pacific regional issues. We also try to incorporate subject matter that is of interest to the participant’s academic and career goals.

Outside of the required monthly meetings, participants have the added opportunity to attend various Pacific Forum events, including senior-level breakfast briefings, exclusive roundtables, the annual Board of Governors’ dinner, and more. Through these activities, participants hear from internationally recognized foreign policy experts and can network and explore different career industries.

Participants may also go on several group field trips. Past cohorts have visited the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, East-West Center, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Camp Smith, the National Security Agency facility in Wahiawa, Hawaii, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and Oceanit’s headquarters in Downtown Honolulu.

11.  What is the time commitment?


Participants can expect to dedicate between four to ten hours per month. To accommodate the schedules of everyone, meetings are typically held on weeknights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Extra opportunities are available to those whose schedules permit.

Program participants are expected to complete a research project by the conclusion of the program which includes the submission of a 1,500–2,000 word paper and a presentation to Pacific Forum staff, program sponsors, and community members.

12.  I am not based in Oahu, Hawaii. Can I still participate?


No. The APAL program requires that participants attend events in person, therefore they must be based in Oahu for the entirety of the program. The program does not provide relocation, housing or cost-of-living allowances.

13.  What about neighbor island participants?


Participants are required to attend monthly meetings in person in Oahu and are encouraged to attend additional events as their schedules permit. Oahu-based participants will receive priority consideration, unless individuals based on neighbor islands are able to commute regularly to Honolulu for monthly meetings and additional events. Pacific Forum is researching funding opportunities to include neighbor-island participants in future cohorts of this program.

14.  Is there a cost to participate?


The program is generously supported by a grant from the Freeman Foundation. There is no cost for participation.