Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program

The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) is a three-week summer exchange program that brings English-speaking undergraduate students from Iraq to the U.S. to explore the themes of leadership development, civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and community engagement. Following the U.S. program, participants continue with alumni activities focused on leadership development in their home communities. The exchange is funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and implemented by World Learning, a non-profit empowering people and strengthening institutions through education, sustainable development, and exchange programs. The University of Texas at Austin is proud to be a host institution for the 2019 program.

Human Rights

Jim Harrington will lead a customized course focused on human rights, peace building and reconciliation, countering violent extremism, IDPs & refugees, and entrepreneurship in which he will utilize interactive discussions and case studies to explore these themes and look at how leaders in the U.S. and worldwide have worked to promote democratic values and tolerance. A full course syllabus and course reading packet will be distributed during orientation.

Also as part of the course, participants will be divided into four groups and, under the guidance of a program mentor, will create a follow-on action project related to one of  these themes each group will present their project on the final day of class.


The LEI will facilitate four interactive workshops focused on identifying personal leadership traits, inclusivity, conflict resolution, and resiliency. These workshops are run by trained UT students, providing IYLEP participants the opportunity to learn about leadership in a peer-to-peer setting.

On the final day of the program, Alice Rocher will lead a wrap-up session designed to provide participants with additional skills to enhance their leadership capacity in their home communities. The session will focus on the theme of servant leadership and will develop participants' ability to creatively solve problems independently and within team settings. Participants will work with Dr. Garden to examine the soft-skills needed to create a strong, sustainable leadership environment upon their return to Iraq.


The following activities will give participants an enriching cultural experience and supplement their learning in the classroom.

Cultural site visits

  • Texas State Capitol: Participants will visit the chambers of the Texas State Legislature and gain political & historical knowledge of the Lone State State.
  • LBJ Presidential Library: The group will explore the life and accomplishments of America's 36th President of the United States, born and raised just outside of Austin.
  • Community Service activities: Participants will take part in the American volunteering experience and understand how organizations help underserved communities.
  • Homestay Weekend: Every participant will spend a weekend with a local Austin family living like a Texan and introducing their local host to their own culture and customs.
  • Georgetown Challenge Course: Working as a team, the group will engage in an experiential setting where learning and leadership meet challenge and fun through a series of team-building exercises.

Cultural preparations

Before departing for Austin, participants should:

  • Fill out and return the Participant Pre-Arrival Survey by the deadline.
  • Learn more about Austin and U.S. culture.
  • Practice their English (especially speaking and reading/writing)!
  • Make a commitment to challenge themselves to meet new people and try new things.
  • Follow IYLEP on social media and connect with other program participants.

As a part of IYLEP, participants will be enrolled in Accident and Sickness insurance coverage, which will provide health insurance coverage for the duration of the program. Find information about medical emergencies, health care providers and pharmacies on the Health and Safety page.

Participants will be placed in double-occupancy rooms at Whitis Court, a student residence hall located on campus within walking distance of classrooms, several restaurants, and shops. Roommates will be of the same gender, and assignments will be distributed upon arrival in Austin. Only extenuating circumstances will be considered for roommate switches.

Room Features

  • Twin bed
  • Desk
  • Dresser
  • Closet
  • Linens: sheets, towels, and pillow

Facility Features


Participants will be provided a stipend for meals and have the option to eat at dining halls on campus and/or a variety of local restaurants. Participant also have the opportunity to cook their own meals in the residence hall kitchen. Several restaurants and markets in Austin sell halal options.


(Be sure to indicate your dietary needs on the pre-arrival survey.)


  • Large commons spaces: living rooms, kitchen, TV room, game room
  • Community bathrooms (separate male/female)
  • Private study rooms
  • Laundry room
  • Outdoor courtyard with tables and grill

Your designated program coordinators are:

Angela Branigan, Assistant Director

Joshua Monthei, Program Coordinator

Alexandra Estrella and Saghar Bozorgi, Program Assistants


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