IYLEP for English-speaking high school students provides a four-week fully-funded exchange program to talented Iraqi and U.S. students who demonstrate leadership potential and civic engagement in their communities. During the program, participants engage in experiential learning activities and workshops that expand their knowledge of civic engagement, project design, and intercultural communication. Upon their return home, participants implement their community service projects, utilizing support and monitoring from adult mentors, local staff, and alumni.
From June to September 2021, a total of 127 English-speaking Iraqi students will be divided into three separate programs, one of which will include 10 U.S. students. Iraqi adult mentors will also divided among the exchange programs to provide support and mentorship to the youth.
Participants engage in mini-research projects on their local communities to identify an issue and potential solutions. About 1-2 months prior to the exchange, participants meet in their regions for a Pre-Departure Orientation workshop.
Week 1: Brattleboro, Vermont
Participants meet to focus on leadership training, teambuilding, dialogue, and project management skills.
Weeks 2-3: Host Cities in the U.S. (TBD)
Group breaks into smaller groups in different host cities to take part in homestays, organizational meetings, volunteer opportunities, and skills building.
Week 4: Washington, D.C.
Full group reunites for program synthesis, community action planning, and closing activities.
Upon return home, participants start implementing the projects that they designed throughout the U.S. segment while preparing for their regional reunions (3-4 months upon return home) and national reunion (6-7 months upon return home).
IYLEP provides an opportunity for 10 United States high school students to join their Iraqi counterparts in a four-week program aiming to develop leadership and peacebuilding skills, foster relationships among youth from different backgrounds, and to promote mutual understanding between the people of Iraq and the U.S. This program takes place domestically in the U.S throughout different program locations in Vermont, a host community, and Washington, D.C. IYLEP is a fully funded program, covering travel, lodging, food, and all program activities.
The U.S. students are full participants on the program and have the opportunity to share their own culture with the Iraqi participants while learning more about their counterparts’ cultures and way of life. Through teambuilding activities, dialogue, skills and theme-based workshops, living in dorms and with host families, and meeting teenagers from all over the U.S. and Iraq, participants will gain skills needed for their future education and professional goals.
U.S. students will participate in:
- Leadership training
- Cross-cultural communication and exposure
- Skills development
- Networking opportunities
- A unique and authentic exchange program
- Civic and social responsibility workshops
- Teambuilding and group work
- Cultural awareness and sharing opportunities
IYLEP aims to cultivate strong adult-youth partnerships and to develop advocates and supporters of youth in Iraq. Each program includes several Iraqi adult mentors that participate in the leadership and cultural exchange activities, while also supporting the youth participants and staff throughout the program. Responsibilities include:
- Monitor and support the participants’ healthy, safety, and participation
- Assist the U.S. staff in activities and in intercultural communication
- Model respectful, positive, cooperative interactions
- Help to create positive energy and enthusiasm among participants
- Encourage the participants’ growth, learning, and development
- Engage in all program activities and events: adult participants must remain with the program throughout the entire trip; personal travel within the US during the program is not permitted
- Actively contribute to the group and to the learning process
- Serve as a cultural bridge: it is important to understand and anticipate where there may be cultural differences and confusion and willing and able to address issues between both the Iraqi and U.S. participants as well as within the group of Iraqi students who come from different regions in Iraq
- Bridge the learnings from the U.S. program to Iraq for the Iraqi teens
IYLEP is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Youth Programs Division. The program fully covers international transportation to and from the U.S., orientations, program and visa fees and administration, site visits and seminars, lodging and meals, some cultural activities, educational materials, and accident and sickness insurance. Participants will stay with volunteer host families and in conference centers.
Participants are responsible for expenses related to the application process (copying, mailing, photographs, etc.), passport fees, and spending money for souvenirs and other items in the U.S.