Learn and discuss world affairs with peers in Algeria, Iraq, the U.S., and Yemen—all without leaving your living room.

 

Social Change

Community Service

Certificate

Leadership

Peace, Politics & Human Rights

Program Description

Designed to connect youth living in every corner of the world, The Experiment Digital is an exchange program conducted entirely online. It prepares youth to be more civically engaged by teaching them how to design and implement a service project for their local communities. For eight weeks during the summer, students log on to an interactive platform to learn about leadership, civic engagement, and interact with their peers through videos, chats, webinars, and games. Students come away from the program with:

  • An enhanced understanding and practice of leadership
  • Increased involvement in civil society and volunteering
  • Mutual understanding between youth from different countries

Started in 2016, The Experiment Digital is sponsored by the Stevens Initiative, a partnership aimed to increase exchanges between youth in the U.S. and the Middle East. The exchanges take place online, so students can participate from anywhere. We encourage students with diverse backgrounds to apply!

PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

Prerequisite:

None

Dates:

June 22–August 16, 2020

Time Commitment:

4 Hours/Week

Program Fee:

Fully Funded

Countries:

Algeria, Iraq, U.S., Yemen

APPLY NOW

Why We’re Different

Experiential Learning Online

  • Learning with The Experiment Digital is different and fun. During the summer, students navigate challenging scenarios together and reflect on lessons learned through dialogue with peers.

Safe and Intimate Small Group Spaces

  • Every five participants are grouped with an expert facilitator to engage in small group conversations. Students discuss different topics each time, including hopes, fears, gender norms, and stereotypes.

Program for Youth Led by Youth

  • Program facilitators are alumni of our programs who have experience with cultural exchange and undergo an intensive month-long training on online facilitation.

Robust Curriculum to Prepare Future Digital Citizens

  • Through interactions with international peers, students practice collaborative problem solving, intercultural communication, and digital etiquette – all of which are important in our increasingly globalized world.

Program Modules

Module 1: Digital Citizenship

  • In this opening module, participants will introduce themselves to each other. To set the norms for online communications and ensure a productive space for the exchange, participants will discuss phrases and emoticons that are polite and impolite to use in their cultures. They will also identify an issue that they care about in their communities and analyze its root causes.

 

 

Module 2: Leadership and Identity

  • In this module, participants will formulate the issue they want to address in their communities into a problem statement that begins with, “How might we…” to narrow the scope of their projects. They will also engage in a collaborative problem-solving activity, where together as a group they will have to reach an agreement within a given timeframe while practicing leadership skills.

 

 

Module 3: Community Initiatives

  • Participants will take the problem statements they devised in the previous module, and collaboratively brainstorm solutions together. Sometimes, it is helpful to learn how trash is recycled in Erbil, Iraq, and brainstorm how that may be applied to Washington, DC. In this module, participants will also share in small group dialogues how gender norms and societal expectations affect their lives.

 

 

Module 4: Public Narrative

  • In this closing module, participants will take everything they have developed for their projects and put it into a form of an “action plan.” Many of our program alumni implement their action plans in their communities post-exchange and have received grant funding to sustain their initiatives. Participants will also learn the public narrative framework on how to tell a story about themselves—why they came to this exchange program, and what their responsibilities are, as alumni of The Experiment Digital.

One Week in The Experiment Digital

Anytime

  • Watch a video to learn how to analyze the root causes of an issue happening in your community (5 minutes).
  • Share your perspective on why homelessness is happening in your city and respond to what your peers have shared (15 minutes).
  • Post a photo of your favorite store in your city. (5 minutes).
  • Discuss with your “neighborhood” (a group of 20–25) three of the best items to keep on a sinking boat in order to survive. (1 Hour)

Tuesday, 3PM (Example)

  • Ask a community activist questions about implementing better street cleaning solutions during a live webinar. (1 Hour)

Saturday, 12PM (Example)

  • Video chat with your “family” (a small group of 5) and your facilitator, on the intersection between gender and peacebuilding. (1 Hour)

 

 

How to Apply

You are eligible to apply if you:

    • Are between the ages of 14–19 years old
    • Currently enrolled in or have not yet completed high school
    • Reside in the United States, Algeria, Iraq, or Yemen
    • Have basic English language competency
    • Have regular access to the Internet*
    • Can devote 4 hours each week to the program

*If selected to our program, we will provide support for data plans if you do not have consistent access to the Internet.

Applications for The Experiment Digital 2020 will open in February 2020. You can sign up for our mailing list to receive an email when the applications are open.

Past Facilitators

Meenu Bhooshanan

Photo of Meenu BhooshananMeenu is a digital facilitator and student in Madison, Alabama. The skills Meenu learned from The Experiment Digital helped her co-found two clubs: Young Advocates for Equality (YAFE) and the Interfaith Club which strive to further equality in communities and represent the diverse faiths in the community. From The Experiment Digital, she learned the importance of communication and techniques for civic engagement. She is a volunteer at the International Institute, working with students from different backgrounds.

 

 

Ibrahim Manhal

Photo of Ibrahim ManhalIbrahim is a 2019 digital facilitator and medical student in Baghdad, Iraq. After participating in and seeing the impact of both the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) and The Experiment Digital, Ibrahim joined the program as a facilitator in 2017 and 2019.

“Being there for the participants, listening to their opinions and stories, and watching them evolve throughout the program was definitely a highlight for me. I think it’s really interesting how when you provide such a well-established and productive environment, everyone around you becomes productive and full of ideas about how to make their communities better, which made me a better facilitator for my participants in every dialogue and online session.”

Djamila Azzouz

Photo of Djamila AzzouzDjamila is a 2019 digital facilitator and master’s student from Algeria. Prior to serving as a facilitator, Djamila was a mentee in the Maharat Mentorship program with World Learning. She also serves as a communication manager for a community project that aims to help university students who live far from their homes during the school year to eat healthier and save more money.

“I believe that one thing I gained from being a part of the program is the people whom I had the chance to meet. In one way or another, they all left an impact on me. Some taught me lessons and gave me guidance; some inspired me and some I even learnt from their mistakes. By the end of the program, I found myself having a whole new group of friends from different countries and backgrounds with whom I am still in touch with today.”

Student Voices

The Experiment Digital was a one-of-a-kind experience! It helped me improve my leadership skills, my critical thinking, my confidence, and my ability to express my thoughts. It also opened my eyes to things that I didn’t know were happening in other countries.⁠

— Ferial Yasmine Ali Khodja (Algeria)

I think that our responsibility in this increasingly globalized, yet divided world is to make it less divided by making people connect more. We can use the skills we learnt from experience to make people see how easy it is to connect with each other despite the borders that separate us. I believe that we are all connected on certain levels that can’t be touched by segregation. I didn’t think that it would be possible to get along with people from different countries and backgrounds, but here I am, a month later, thinking how easy this whole process was.

— Tala Al-Rubaye (Iraq)

I didn’t feel the difference between us or the boundaries. No discrimination or false expectations. I felt like we were from the same place. We were all from Earth and talking the same language of the heart. Thank you for making me feel at home!

— Safa Moqbel (Yemen)

I learned that friendships can truly transcend cultural and geographical borders; that love can exist with people who you never thought you’d be able to be in contact with – they live in Iraq and I live in the US. I’ve gained both tangible facts and emotional connections.

— Noah Kurzenhauser (U.S.)

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I get from completing the program?

  • By participating in The Experiment Digital, you will receive a Certificate of Completion in leadership and global issues analysis, access to the U.S. Department of State’s International Exchange Alumni network, unique project funding opportunities up $1000, and a $400 scholarship toward participation in one of The Experiment’s programs around the world.

How do I become a Digital Community Facilitator?

  • Applications for the Digital Community Facilitator will open in March 2020. Sign up for our newsletter to receive a notification when the applications are open.

When does The Experiment Digital take place?

  • It takes place for 8 weeks over the summer and will require 4 hours of time each week. Of the 4 hours, 3 hours will be carried out on your own time. You can choose when to complete those activities, and how they fit into your schedule. For the remaining hour, you will be joining a scheduled video call with your small group, the timing of which will be predetermined in advance.

How do you select your students?

  • During our application review, we look for participants who: (1) Demonstrate a commitment to the program and its goals; (2) Are passionate about developing their leadership and cross-cultural communication skills; (3) Have an open-minded attitude and are willing to learn from others; (4) Have a strong desire to create social change in their communities; (5) Have not had extensive travel experience.

Funder Acknowledgement

The Experiment Digital, formerly known as DYLEP, is supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

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