Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program

by Weam Namou

Iraqi Boy

Program Description

The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) is a four-week summer exchange program in the United States, which brings English-speaking high school students from Iraq to explore the themes of leadership development, civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and community engagement. On the exchange funded by the U.S. Department of State, competitively selected American students join Iraqi participants in some of the U.S. based activities.

Participants are between the ages of 15 and 17 and are recruited from all provinces in Iraq. Iraqi adult chaperones/mentors will accompany the students, and are educators or community leaders who work with youth and have demonstrated an interest in promoting youth leadership and social development.

The program continues after the U.S. based exchange with follow-on activities in the participants’ home communities, including through alumni activities focused on leadership development.

Program Cycle

Students travel to the United States in July/August to spend the initial two weeks at World Learning’s Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont; followed by two-week homestays in cities across the United States (including Ann Arbor, Michigan); and conclude their program in Washington, DC.

Alumni conferences following the exchange may be held in Erbil, Iraq.

Program Goals & Objectives, as defined by the Department of State

The goals of the program are to:

  • Promote mutual understanding between youth in the United States and Iraq;
  • Enable the Iraqi participants to understand civic participation and rights and responsibilities in a democracy;
  • Promote community engagement among Iraqi youth;
  • Develop leadership skills among Iraqi and American youth; and
  • Foster understanding and relationships between people of different ethnic and religious groups.

Opportunities for American High School Students and their Families

Iraqi high school students will spend two weeks in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from July 9-23, 2016.  The Iraqi students must stay with local families in a “home-stays” for the two-week period.  Programming for the Iraqi and American students will involve leadership development training, team building, volunteering, participation in sport, music and/or arts programming and day camps, and facilitated discussions on current issues and select topics chosen by the students.  There will also be optional sightseeing, shopping, museum visits, sporting events and other cultural/social outings on evenings and weekends. The American students who participate will receive certificates of completion for the leadership development and teambuilding workshops, and written acknowledgement of their 80 hours of volunteer service.

For more information about this opportunity, please refer to the following websites:

http://www.worldlearning.org/what-we-do/global-youth-programs/

http://www.isr.umich.edu/cps/M-ABLE/

http://eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/youth-programs

Or, contact the following people:

Barbara Peitsch, Program Director, bpeitsch@umich.edu, 734/239-3513 or

Surry Scheerer, Co-Director, sscheer@umich.edu, 734/646-2885

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