Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program

Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) Leadership, Law and Social Justice Institute is a four-week summer exchange program that brings English-speaking secondary school students from Iraq to explore the themes of leadership development, civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and community engagement. The exchange is funded by the Department of State and engages Iraqi and U.S. students in joint activities. After the U.S. program, participants continue with alumni activities focused on leadership development in their home communities.

The Law, Leadership and Social Justice Institute is an intensive program in and out of class and follows a typical American school/work schedule.

The course Civil Liberties, Law & Social Justice explores human rights and civil liberties themes in depth, such as religious free exercise, free speech and press, criminal procedure, capital punishment, right to privacy, equal protection (race, gender and disabilities), due process and political participation. We’ll examine legal principles, historical, social and cultural contexts and milieus in which these issues arise in the U.S., Iraq and around the world. You explore how leaders in the United States and around the world have worked to promote social justice around these issues and how leaders in Iraq might do the same.

Your books will be provided but you must bring notebooks, pens and other materials. A full course syllabus and textbooks is distributed during the orientation. Participants will be divided into groups of five led by an UT graduate student mentor who will help with the creation and presentation of the final group projects.

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

Creative activism

Work with local muralist Raul Valdez, learning how art has been used as a tool for activism in Central Texas. Complete an art project that reflects your learning and perspectives around the themes discussed in the program. You will even have an opportunity to present your work to the community.

Cultural site visits

  • Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum: shares the pioneering story of Texas from pre-settlement to the present.
  • Texas State Capitol: houses the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the Office of the Governor of Texas. Participants will tour the capitol and meet with government officials.
  • Community Service activities: let you explore the role that volunteering plays in American society and understand how organizations help underserved communities.
  • Family Homestays: allow you to spend a weekend with a local Austin family living like a Texan and introducing your local host to your own culture and customs.
  • Georgetown Challenge Course: is where learning and leadership meet challenge and fun through a series of team-building exercises.
  • Workshops: led by community groups will focus on the group’s current work relating to Leadership, Civic Engagement and Diversity. More details about each panel is outlined in the program book provided at orientation.

Cultural preparations

Before departing for Austin, please make sure to:

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

As a part of the IYLEP program, you will have Accident and Sickness insurance coverage. The plan provides health insurance coverage to participants for the duration of the program. Find information about medical emergencies, health care providers and pharmacies on the Health and Safety page.

You will share a room with another IYLEP student of the same gender and reside in Whitis Court. This is a student dormitory building located on campus within walking distance of your classrooms, several restaurants, and shops. Distribution of the assignments happens upon arrival in Austin. Only extenuating circumstances are considered for roommate switches.

Room Features

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

Facility Features


You are provided a stipend for meals and have the option to eat at dining halls on campus and/or a variety of local restaurants. You may also have the opportunity to cook your own meals in the dormitory kitchen, if this is your preference. 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

Meghan Merchant, Program Coordinator and IYLEP Academic Director

Saleha Parvaiz, Graduate Assistant

You can read more about them here.

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