ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Designed to connect hundreds of young people across the United States with peers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, such as Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Palestinian Territories, and Yemen, The Experiment Digital Youth Leadership & Community Service prepares participants to be more civically engaged and lead change. This fully funded six-week summer virtual experience teaches high school students to formulate and implement service projects in their local communities.
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 cultures
The Experiment Digital, a pioneer in virtual exchange programming, launched in 2016. Our programs draw upon best practices in experiential learning accumulated over decades of Experiment programming. Originally launched to connect Experimenters with students in countries to which travel and traditional programs were not possible, The Experiment Digital Youth Leadership & Community Service is now providing a critical outlet for global intercultural exchange in a time of crisis.
Upon successful completion of the program, participants receive a Certificate of Completion in Leadership & Global Issues Analysis, access to the U.S. Department of State’s International Alumni Network, unique project funding opportunities from the U.S. Department of State, and a $400 scholarship for summer 2024 toward participation in one of The Experiment in International Living’s programs around the world.
Read and share our program flyer here.
May 22 to July 2, 2023
- Program Orientation takes place the week of May 15, 2023 and is a time commitment of one hour.
- The time commitment is 4 hours per week, but only 1 hour per week is synchronous online meeting time. The online meeting hour will be scheduled on a weekend (not during the weekday).
The Priority Admissions deadline is February 15, 2023. We will begin reviewing applications on a rolling basis after the priority admissions deadline on February 15, so students who submit applications by the February 15 deadline will receive an earlier admissions decision.
Please join our upcoming information session with our staff and recent alumni about the summer 2023 program!
- Saturday, March 11, 2023 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EST— Register here
PREVIOUS INFORMATION SESSIONS
- The Experiment Digital Youth Leadership & Community Service Information Session | Password: Leadership2021
- The Experiment Digital Alumni Q&A event featuring Digital Experimenters from summer 2020
- Algeria, March 2021
- Iraq, March 2021
- Yemen, March 2021
Why We’re Different
The Experiment Digital Youth Leadership & Community Service retains The Experiment’s longstanding model of experiential learning and emphasis on forming meaningful relationships and moves it into the virtual space. Using popular digital platforms for teens like Canvas, Padlet, Flipgrid, and Zoom, our virtual program model gives young people the opportunity to build international friendships online. Peer-to-peer engagement, combined with carefully designed activities, allows students to learn from one another and develop knowledge and attitudes that foster cultural understanding.
Virtual exchanges diversify the learning experience through accessible digital means, enabling an increasing number of young people to enjoy a meaningful intercultural experience as part of their education.
Experiential Learning Online
- Learning with The Experiment Digital Youth Leadership & Community Service is challenging and fun. Participants learn how to facilitate digital discussions, lead online dialogues via video chat, and formulate and implement service projects in their local communities. Activities center around bringing students together to navigate scenarios that test their abilities and reflect on lessons learned through collaborative dialogue. Students practice collaborative problem solving, intercultural communication, and digital etiquette—all of which are important in our increasingly globalized world.
Safe and Intimate Small Group Spaces
- The participant to expert facilitator ratio is 5:1. This allows for small group conversations with authentic engagement. Students share their hopes, fears, and discuss important topics such as gender norms and stereotypes.
Program for Youth Led by Youth
- Our facilitators are program alumni with experience in cultural exchanges. Community Facilitators manage “Neighborhoods” and were selected because of their experience working with youth and facilitating intercultural exchanges. They undergo an intensive month-long training for online facilitation. Peer Mentors, alumni of our previous digital programs, offer another layer of support to participants.
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.
The Experiment Digital Youth Leadership & Community Service community is split into “Neighborhoods” of about 35 participants and are led by one Digital Peer Mentor and one Digital Community Facilitator. Within those neighborhoods are small groups of 8-10 participants called “Families.”
The Experiment Digital includes four modules, each of which is two weeks long and includes a variety of activities, discussions, and tasks—some completed independently and others in a team, with family, or neighborhood groups.
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 emojis 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 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 Youth Leadership & Community Service.
- 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).
Saturday, 3PM (Example)
- Ask a community activist questions about implementing better street cleaning solutions during a live webinar. (1 hour)
Sunday, 1PM (Example)
- Video chat with your “family” (a small group of 5) and your facilitator, on the intersection between gender and peacebuilding. (1 hour)
You are eligible to apply if you:
- Are between the ages of 14–19 years old
- Are currently enrolled in or have not yet completed high school
- Reside in the United States or the MENA region, including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Palestinian Territories, and Yemen
- Have basic English language competency
- Have regular access to the Internet*
- Can devote 4 hours each week to the program
*Internet support may be available upon request.
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 facilitator?
- Visit our Become a Digital Facilitator page to learn more.
When does The Experiment Digital take place?
- The program takes place for 6 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. For the remaining hour, you will be joining a scheduled video call on a weekend day 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 intercultural 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.
The Experiment Digital Youth Leadership & Community Service 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.