Iylep Essays On Education

The application period for Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Programs (IYLEP) is currently closed. Please check our website and Facebook page frequently for updates on this and other exchange programs.

Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Programs (IYLEP) is a five-week exchange program funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and Bureau of Cultural and Education, which will provide 264 Iraqi high school and undergraduate students with a unique educational exchange experience in the summer of 2018.The IYLEP undergraduate and high school programs together have provided invaluable leadership and educational opportunities for approximately 2300 students since its creation in 2007.  In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad initiated a new IYLEP high school program in Arabic language. These programs work to support the goals of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement to enhance mutual understanding and strengthen the connections between the people of the United States and Iraq, and have created a cadre of young Iraqi leaders who are inspiring and impacting their communities.

The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for UndergraduateStudents, sponsored by the United States Government and administered by World Learning, provides four weeks of fully-funded leadership training and classroom instruction to talented and dedicated students from Iraq. Participants, hosted at four universities throughout the United States, will focus on one of four thematic “institutes”: Science and Technology; Public Administration; Environmental and Historical Preservation; and Public Health.  Each institute will consist of classroom instruction, field trips, site visits, community service, leadership training, conflict resolution training, and cultural exchanges.

The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for High School Students (in English), sponsored by the United States Government and administered by World Learning, is a four-week youth leadership exchange based in the United States for Iraqi and American teenagers ages 15-17 and Iraqi adult mentors.  The program aims to develop a cadre of young adults in Iraq and the United States who have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a commitment to community development, an awareness of current and global issues, strong interpersonal leadership skills, and a willingness to foster relationships among youth from different ethnic, religious, and national groups in Iraq.

The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program in Arabic for High School Students, sponsored by the United States Government and administered by World Learning, is a pilot program modeled on the IYLEP (in English), which will bring a small group of high school students aged 15-17 and adult mentors from Iraq to the U.S. for a dynamic four-week program, which will  provide participants with skills development in leadership, civic education and responsibility, diversity awareness and tolerance, and civil engagement, as well as structured English-language learning.  This new program caters to students who meet the same eligibility criteria for IYLEP except for the English language proficiency.

Iraqi high school students will only be eligible apply for one of the IYLEP programs – IYLEP in English or IYLEP in Arabic. Students who possess English proficiency must apply for the IYLEP in English program.

Interested applicants should check eligibility requirements and apply at https://iylep.org/.

There is no cost to apply to IYLEP.  The U.S. Department of State will fully fund students’ academic study, travel, health insurance, housing, and provide a modest living allowance while in the United States.

For questions about the program please email iylep@worldlearning.org.

2016 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students

Funded by the US Embassy in Baghdad and implemented by Meridian International Center, this prestigious program is designed to provide talented, hard-working, and highly motivated Iraqi undergraduate students with an opportunity to spend four weeks studying at a US University on an intensive academic institute in the summer of 2016.


About the Program

In summer 2016, Meridian International Center will implement the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), a series of summer exchange programs in the United States for Iraqi undergraduate students sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The program, which will occur between late June and August 2016, will give young Iraqis the chance to build their leadership skills and will give them the tools needed to develop their own youth-led projects for community change upon their return home.

The Undergraduate Program will bring 100 competitively selected Iraqi university students in their first, second, or third year of school to the United States for a leadership program within an American university setting. In addition to an opening conference in New York City, NY, and a closing conference in Washington, D.C., participants will take part in one of four Institutes at an American university. Participants apply to the Institute of most interest to them. Institute topics in 2016 are Public Policy; Entrepreneurship and Community Development; Information Technology and Media; and Leadership, Law, and Social Justice.

Program Timeline

Application due: December 1, 2015
Applications reviewed: December, 2015 - January, 2016
Semi-finalists selected for in-person interviews: January – February 2016
Finalists selected and notified: February-March 2016
Visa interviews in Baghdad or Erbil: March-April 2016
Program dates: Late June – August 2016

Application Process

Applications now closed

The Meridian IYLEP team, in coordination with our local consultants working across Iraq, has worked hard to advertise this program to students at universities across your country. It is our strong belief that a talented diverse pool of students will make for the best possible program, and it is our commitment to recruit students’ representative of all different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

We wish to be clear that selection for the IYLEP program will be done through an open and fair competition. In order to ensure no bias or special preference is given to any student based on background, political affiliation, or family connections, applications will be reviewed by at least two different reviewers in the United States. Applications will be reviewed on the following criteria:

  • Completeness of application in English, including copy of passport, proof of university enrollment, and letters of recommendation
  • Applicant's demonstrated knowledge, interest, and relevancy in relationship to the thematic topic selected
  • Demonstrated interest in and commitment to public service and volunteerism
  • Commitment to implement projects that benefit the applicant’s school and/or community after they return home
  • Leadership potential
  • Strong academic record
  • Written English proficiency

Highest ranking students by region will be notified in late January 2016 and be invited to an in-person interview. You will be interviewed by a panel that will rate you on the following criteria:

  • Oral English proficiency
  • Good social and communication skills
  • An energetic, positive attitude
  • Ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and tolerate the opinions of others

The Meridian team will then select the program finalists based on the best average scores of the written application and interview. Please understand: simply meeting all program criteria does NOT guarantee you a spot in the program, and all decisions by the review team are FINAL. Requests for reconsideration will not be possible. Unfortunately, due to the high demand of this program, we know some very talented students will not be chosen to participate this year, but they are encouraged to reapply in future years, and look for other leadership training opportunities in Iraq and abroad.


Students must meet ALL the following criteria to be eligible for the program:

  • Be a citizen and current resident of Iraq (Applicants with dual U.S. citizenship will not be considered).
  • Have an Iraqi G or A series passport valid through March 2017 by December 1, 2015
  • Be a current student in your 1st, 2nd or 3rd year of undergraduate academic studies at an Iraqi university/college (Students in their first year of an English language preparation program are not eligible).
  • Have at least one undergraduate semester or year to complete after returning from IYLEP Summer 2016.
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 24 by the time of the program in summer 2016.
  • Be proficient in the English language enough to actively participate in a college level academic program.
  • Be in good academic standing at an Iraqi university.

Students who can answer YES to any of the following questions are NOT eligible to apply:

  • Applicant has applied for permanent residency or refugee status in the United States
  • Applicant has been to the United States on a U.S. government-funded exchange program (including IYLEP (undergraduate or high school), MEPI, YES, Fulbright, SUSI, and others)
  • Applicant has immediate family members who are employees or contractors of the U.S. embassy or any U.S. government agency; and/or
  • Applicant has a sibling or parent permanently residing in the United States (it is ok to have relatives in the U.S. temporarily, such as for university study)

Frequently Asked Questions


If I have an S/M/N series passport; can I use this to travel to the U.S.?
No. The only passports valid for travel to the U.S. are the A and G series.

I don’t have an A or G passport; how can I get one?
You must locate your closest passport office in Iraq and contact them regarding the latest procedures for obtaining your passport.


I was on the high school IYLEP program and now I am a college student. Can I apply for the IYLEP undergraduate program this year?
No, unfortunately the U.S. Embassy does not allow past participants (alumni) to participate in IYLEP more than once.

For my field of study, I will spend more than 4 years in college before graduating; does the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year student rule apply to me also?

If I am in an English preparation program before I begin my academic program, can I apply for IYLEP?
No. Only students in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd academic year in their field of study at undergraduate university programs may apply.

Can siblings apply to the IYLEP?
Yes, siblings can apply to IYLEP, and will be considered for whichever institute they apply to.

I was selected as a finalist/alternate for IYLEP 2015, but was unable to participate; do I need to re-apply to be considered for IYLEP 2016?
Yes. Application procedures and requirements have changed since the 2015 application, therefore you are required to re-apply and not guaranteed acceptance.

I do not meet the age requirements for IYLEP, can I still apply?

Will my application be considered if I have a disability?
Yes, we encourage all eligible applicants to apply for this program. Having a disability does not disqualify you from being selected for the program. If you are selected to participate and have a disability, special accommodations will be made for you to attend your programmed activities.

I have already graduated from college with a degree; can I still apply to IYLEP?
No. IYLEP recruits only undergraduate students who are still enrolled in an Iraqi university.

After You Submit the Application

Will I receive confirmation that my application has been received?
Yes. You will receive a computer-generated email.

Will I receive notice whether or not I have been accepted to the program?
All applicants will be notified of their status in late January 2016.

How many students will be accepted into the IYLEP undergraduate program?
100 students will be selected as participants.

I originally applied to this theme, but now I want to change to a different theme; can I?
If it is before the application deadline, yes. After December 1st, you will only be considered for whichever theme you have on your application at the time of submission.

What if I am not accepted to IYLEP this year; can I apply again next year?
Yes, if you are still within the age and degree eligibility requirements.

Required Documents

I am having trouble obtaining proof of my current university enrollment. What can I do?
Email iylepundergraduate@gmail.com if you are having trouble obtaining your proof of enrollment.

Can I submit proof of my current university enrollment in Arabic?
Yes, the proof of university enrollment may be in Arabic, but the rest of your application must be in English.

Who can write my letters of recommendation?
All applicants MUST submit TWO letters of recommendation.
Letters of recommendation MUST BE FROM: professors, employers, or other individuals who know you in a professional or formal manner. It is important that the reference has a good understanding of your academic, leadership, and personal qualities. It is preferable that one letter is written by an individual in an academic setting (professor) and the other letter is written by an individual in a professional setting. However, it is completely acceptable to have both letters written by professors. Letters of Recommendation CANNOT BE FROM: Friends or family.

What is included

There is no application fee for applicants. The United States Government, in conjunction with its private partners, will pay for international transportation to and from the United States, orientations, program and visa fees and administration, site visits and seminars, lodging and meals, cultural activities, educational materials, accident and sickness insurance, and a modest amount of pocket money. Participants will reside in dormitories or other campus housing at their host institutions. Participants are responsible for expenses related to the application process (copying, mailing, photographs, interview travel, etc.), passport fees, and spending money for souvenirs and other items in the United States.

  See Program Page

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