Application FAQ


We’re looking to see a project proposal that will pitch and outline the stories you plan to write for Open City. You should outline a writing project that will:

— evince a strong sense of place and evoke the bustling life, senses, and politics of Asian American neighborhoods in New York;

— engage with interesting issues, particularly issues of inequality, social justice, immigration, and race; and

— depict the above through sophisticated writing: original angles, strong voice, excellent writing, and rich, detailed, and fact-checked reporting.

We want to know that you have a plan for the six months you’ll spend writing about issues affecting Asian American NYC. Describe an overall project you’d propose for the six-month fellowship period that would be broken down into two long-form pieces, as well as four short-form pieces. Describe in detail two of the story ideas that might speak to larger themes, ideas, or issues. Why are these ideas important? Why are they unique? Why are you well-suited to report on these issues? And why is Open City the best place to imagine this project?

Please be specific and treat the project proposal like a lengthy pitch to an editor. This section will be heavily weighted. The story ideas you pitch will be treated as the pieces we expect you to work on during the six-month grant period.

We also want to know where you’re coming from and where you want to go. Why are you the perfect person to write about issues in Asian immigrant communities across New York City? Why are you best-suited to write about the specific neighborhood(s) you’ve proposed? Please also discuss your history of publications (if any) and your ability to report and conduct interviews for nonfiction writing.  


Over a nine-month period, fellows write at least two longform stories, as well as four short pieces. The pieces will be edited rigorously by both staff and volunteer editors. We welcome narrative-driven features, profiles, interviews, editorials, essays, and humor pieces, as well as multimedia. Here are a few examples:

— Narrative-Driven Feature Reportage. Read Eveline Chao’s “Roast Duck Bureaucracy.”

— Oral History and Local Histories. Read Eveline Chao’s “Pearls of Wisdom” and Esther Wang’s “Bread + Butter Socialism: A History of Finnish-American Co-Ops.”

— Voice-Driven Creative Nonfiction. Read Humera Afridi’s “When The Butcher Cries: A Visit to an Organic Halal Slaughterhouse.”

— Opinion/Editorial Writing. Check out Chaya Babu’s “A Stranger in Our Midst” and Sukjong Hong’s “Beyond the Horse Dance.”

— Cultural Beat: Stories that reveal the rich vibrant life of Asian American neighborhoods. Check out Rishi Nath’s Everything Is a Surface.”

— Personal Narrative Essays. Read Rong Xiaoqing’s “The Story of My Name.”

— Personality Profiles. Check out Sonny Singh’s “The Free-Spirited Journey of A Taxi Union Organizer.”

— Expository Features: Stories that shine a spotlight on social and cultural issues within Asian American communities. Read Yichen Tu’s “Leftover Women,” and “I Am a Sex Worker.”  

For the Muslim Communities Fellowship, here are a few samples of stories that Fellows have written:

—Reportage on what’s happening on the ground. Read “Six Years of Spying on Muslim Americans” by Sowmiya Asok.

—Expository multimedia on how the War on Terror has wronged Muslim Americans and how it wrought havoc on their families. Watch Sarah Khan’s “Collateral Damage“.

—First Person Narratives. Read “From Prison Chaplain to Imprisoned Chaplain” by April Xu.

—Personal Essays of how it is to be a Muslim in the United States. Check out “When the First Generation Dies” by Roja Heydarpour.