Creating a Successful Fellowship Program

Jack Yatsko, Chief Operating Officer of Clubhouse International, talks about his experience building out a successful fellowship program in partnership with the Hilton Prize Coalition. Clubhouse International ensured they had the right goals and objectives for the fellowship in place to ensure their Fellow had the tools and resources to embark on opening the first Clubhouse in Mongolia. Learn the steps and tips for creating a fellowship that’s a win-win-win for all parties involved.

Creating a Win-Win-Win Fellowship Experience
Jack Yatsko

As a grateful recipient of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2014, Clubhouse International is making a positive impact in 32 countries across the globe. Clubhouse International is the coordinating center for approximately 300 Clubhouses which are psychiatric rehabilitation programs providing a wide range of support for adults who have experienced a mental illness. The Clubhouse Model of Psychiatric Rehabilitation has proven to be a very successful, innovative model, and we steadily receive requests from individuals seeking to develop a Clubhouse in their communities.

The Fellowship Program provided through the Hilton Prize Coalition was a natural match for Clubhouse International to creatively develop a program to assist an individual from Mongolia to start a Clubhouse in her community.

We had received an email from Oyuntugs Bayaraa (Oyut), who was seeking information in how to start a Clubhouse in her home country of Mongolia. She was obtaining a graduate degree from the University of Arkansas at the time and planning to return to Mongolia upon graduation.

Given we have an International Training Base, Gateway, located in Greenville, South Carolina,   we talked to the Hilton Prize Coalition, Oyut, her Academic Advisor, and Gateway about combining the expertise of one of our International Training Bases and providing an immersion training experience. Clubhouse International would then provide specific support to assist Oyut to achieve her goal of starting a Clubhouse in Mongolia.

A unique element to this fellowship is that Oyut is legally blind. Despite having this challenge, Oyut was a determined Fellow and we all agreed to create an environment that Oyut could participate equally with other colleagues in her experience

To ensure a successful fellowship experience, we developed and objectives of the fellowship position with timelines and action steps. We created a blueprint for a win-win-win between Oyut, Clubhouse, and the Hilton Prize Coalition.

The steps included:

1. Designing an initial six-week curriculum

We aimed to give Oyut hands-on experience and tools to bring back to Mongolia to start a Clubhouse. The remaining six weeks of the placement would occur via long distance training so that Oyut could put concepts into practice in her local community.

2. Participating in an orientation program

At The Carriage House in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Oyut attended trainings and visited three area Clubhouses and learned basic concepts about the Clubhouse Model.

3. Attending a two-week Comprehensive Clubhouse Training Program at Gateway

During this training, Oyut lived in a guesthouse with other colleagues from various Clubhouses. She was involved in the work-ordered day at Gateway as well as numerous discussions about the philosophy and practices used in Clubhouses to assist adults with mental illness with their recovery goals

4. Joining an intensive two-day New Clubhouse Development Training

Clubhouse International facilitated this training with groups from six other states. During the training, Oyut developed a detailed action plan, which she now is in the process of implementing in Mongolia.

This experience proved to be a win-win-win experience for all parties:

1. Oyut won because she gained valuable experience and knowledge to give her the tools to start a Clubhouse.

2. Fellow Clubhouses and Clubhouse colleagues won because they learned from Oyut and her unique vantage points. Colleagues learned about her culture and some of the unique challenges she faced in trying to start a first-of-its kind Clubhouse in a country that has never had this kind of model.

3. Clubhouse International won by living out their mission. Clubhouse International seeks to help as many communities as we can to have a Clubhouse in their community. This fellowship offered a unique, creative opportunity to do so.

Oyut is now well on her way in starting a Board of Directors, obtaining an NGO to raise funds to start her Clubhouse and looking for other key supporters.

Ensuring a fellowship placement is successful is no small task. Here are some tips we learned along the way:

1. Develop a detailed Concept paper: Work closely with Hilton Prize Coalition in the design phase. The team was invaluable in sharing their expertise and experience.

2. Gather partners: We had enthusiastic support from The Carriage House, Gateway and others in being a part of an exciting new opportunity to start a Clubhouse in a country where we have no current Clubhouses.

3. Use technology to communicate effectively: We used Zoom frequently to have weekly meetings. Our global distance, whether it was when Oyut was in Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina, or Mongolia was not a barrier due to today’s technology. I am based in Hawaii and was so happy to finally meet Oyut in South Carolina, but we felt like we already knew each other from prior video conferences.

4. Don’t be afraid of challenges or perceived barriers: We had to deal with visa issues, bringing in University partners, and several clubhouses to make all of this work and we did! Oyut was also very candid about her visual challenges and we were able to still make the fellowship work successfully.

We would like to thank the Hilton Prize Coalition for their support of the Fellows Program. We hope to announce the opening the first Clubhouse in Mongolia soon!

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