This past week, I was fortunate enough to be present for the launch of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students (IYLEP) 2016 application. While we knew students were waiting for the chance to apply, the results were astonishing. Once the application was released, applications began to arrive almost immediately. Over 250 applications were started within the first 24 hours, and that number has steadily increased. Currently, nearly 3,000 applications have been created and several thousand more are expected by the application period’s closing on December 1, 2015.
Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students is implemented by Meridian International Center, and is sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Participants apply to one of four topics: Public Policy; Entrepreneurship and Community Development; Information Technology and Media; and Leadership, Law, and Social Justice. Selected Iraqi undergraduate students will have the opportunity to study one topic at an American university for four weeks next summer, as well as participate in opening and closing conferences in New York City and Washington, D.C.
So far, applicants represent every Iraqi province, and come from a variety of backgrounds. These students are individuals that embody the future of Iraq; they are computer science majors, medical students, educators, and future community leaders.
The increasing number of applications demonstrates the eagerness of these students to tackle the critical issues of Iraq, and their readiness to grow as global leaders. Meridian International Center plays a vital role in facilitating this program, providing an opportunity for Iraqi students to equip themselves with the information and experience they will require to make a difference in the world. These students will return to their home country with personal connections throughout Iraq and the United States, and with the tools to develop their own youth-lead projects.
The mission of IYLEP is incredible, and I feel very lucky to work on a project that impacts so many individuals around the world.
More information about the IYLEP 2016 program and application can be found at http://www.meridian.org/ iylep2016/
Students are encouraged to apply before the December 1 deadline.