2015 Between the Lines “Peace and the Writing Experience”at the University of Iowa

Program overview:

Between the Lines (BTL) is a two-week cultural exchange program designed to host 10 writers ages 16 to 19 Arabic-speaking young writers in the Middle East and North Africa. The University of Iowa at Iowa City will host the program, serving as inspiration for the students to grow as writers and providing them with the opportunity to explore cross-cultural dialogues on creative writing and literature. The program is fully sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State. These young writers will be immersed in the premier creative writing culture of the United States as part of an exchange that will broaden and sharpen their writing skills, deepen their understanding of American society, and build bridges with young American writers who will participate in creative writing classes alongside the ECA-sponsored writers.

Time Frame and Cost:

The program will be held from June 21-July 5, 2015 in Iowa. All expenses including flight and accommodation are covered by the US Government / US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Program activities will include writing workshops in both English and Arabic, seminars on literary topics, cultural visits, and other local events along with a trip to Chicago. At the culmination of the program, the students’ writings (in both English and Arabic) will be collected into a printed booklet to be used for educational purposes.

Participants will travel to and from the United States in the company of two adult chaperones. Students will live in a residence hall and will be supervised by live-in, trained counselors. The chaperones and counselors will work together to help create a lively, supportive writing community.

Student Eligibility:

  • Age 16-19 as of June 22, 2015;
  • Able to demonstrate proficiency in English (reading, writing, and speaking);
  • Able to engage and thrive in an atmosphere that brings together different kinds of people and views;
  • Talented, curious, enthusiastic young writers of fiction and/or poetry.

Student application requirements:

All nominees must supply the following:

  1.  A writing sample of 6-8 pages of prose and/or poetry in Arabic.
  2.  A writing sample of 6-8 pages of prose and/or poetry in English. School essays and other non-fiction writing will not be accepted.
  3.  A brief one-paragraph statement of purpose in English describing why writing is important to their life and what they hope to learn at BTL.
  4.  A copy of the student’s most recent transcript.
  5.  A letter of recommendation from a teacher or other individual who knows the student’s work.
  6. A writing sample of 2-5 pages of prose and/or poetry in either language in response to one of the following writing prompts:
  • During breakfast you are startled by a heavy knock at the door. It is someone who demands something from you. Who is it, what does he/she need, and what happens next? Write a short story or poem.
  • Write a short story or poem that contains three (3) of the following objects and one (1) place: Objects: old bicycle, uncomfortable couch, leaking canoe, sleeping puppy, love note, truth serum; Places: cruise ship, forest with a lake, empty street at dawn, deserted dance club.
  • The writing samples, writing prompt response, and statement of purpose should all be attached to the email. All writing samples must be sent in 12-point font and have one-inch margins all around.

Chaperone application requirements:

Serve as Arabic-speaking liaisons between the students and the International Writing Program (hosted by the University of Iowa) staff. Chaperones will also work with the International Writing Program on BTL-related projects.

  •  Be between the ages of 25-40 as of June 21, 2015.
  •  Demonstrate proficiency in English (reading, writing, and speaking).
  •  Ideally be a teacher from the students’ school who is interested in creative writing and has not had previous exposure to the United States.
  •  Willing to fully participate in a formal English language program on creative writing teaching methods that will also include American teachers.
  •  Be reliable, mature, and willing and able to take on the dual responsibilities of their own program and the overall duties of overseeing the students.
  •  Each nominee must submit a resume/CV and a brief statement of purpose (both in English) describing his or her goals for the program and how his or her participation will benefit the program.

Application deadline and inquiries:

Please submit your application by February 14, 2015.

Email completed application packages to mepitelaviv@state.gov

The U.S. Embassy will conduct personal interviews for selected candidates. Participants travel to the U.S. on a J-1 visa to be facilitated by the Embassy upon acceptance. Due to the high volume of application, only successful applicants will be notified.

For more information on the Between the Lines Program, please click here. For more information on the University of Iowa, please click here.