BTL 2014 FAQ for International Students

Application/selection process

How do I apply to the program?
What exactly are you looking for in a student?
How old do I have to be to participate?
Do I have to know another language to participate?
I want to apply to BTL Arabic as an international student, but I do not live in any of the countries listed. Can I still apply?
I want to apply to BTL Russia as an international student, but I do not live in Russia. Can I still apply?
How do you select students for the program?
When will you notify applicants about your decision?
In my writing sample, can I include the same story and/or poem in two different languages?
Can I include essays, school newspaper articles, or blog entries in my writing sample?

Tuition and fees

How much does it cost to attend?
Is there financial aid available?

Life during BTL

Where will students live?
I have relatives in the Iowa City area. Can I reside with them during the program?
What happens if there's a health concern or emergency?

Classes and schedule

Do you offer college credit for this program or the courses taken?
What will a typical weekday be like?
Can I switch between writing workshops?
Do you offer writing workshops in languages other than English, Russian and Arabic?
What can you tell me about the instructors in the program?

How do I apply to the program?

Once the application cycle is open, you should contact the Cultural Affairs Office at the American Embassy in your country for information on how to apply.

Participating countries and territories for 2014 include: Russia, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Syrian students living outside of Syria are also eligible and may contact the IWP for further guidance.

You will be asked to submit with your application:

6-8 pages of creative work (poetry and/or fiction ONLY) in Arabic or Russian (depending on where you are from)

6-8 pages of creative work (poetry and/or fiction ONLY) in English. School essays will NOT be accepted.

2-5 pages of creative work (poetry and/or fiction ONLY) , in either language (Arabic/Russian or English), in response to ONE (1) of the following writing prompts:

  • One day, you (or your main character) sit down at your kitchen table only to find that there is someone already there. Who is sitting across from you? Whey are they there? Write a short story or poem.
  • Write a story or poem inspired by the following statement: “Searching for love is good, but finding love when you weren't looking for it is better".

A statement of purpose (250 words maximum, in English) describing why creative writing is important to them and their life in their country of residence, and what they hope to learn at our program in Iowa.

Deadlines for different countries:

Russia: February 14 –  http://moscow.usembassy.gov/exchange-btl.html

Algeria: Feb 25 - http://photos.state.gov/libraries/algeria/401501/programs/BTL-ENG.pdf 

Bahrain: Feb 1  - http://bahrain.usembassy.gov/educational_exchange/exchange-programs3/between-the-lines.html 

Egypt: Feb 12 – http://egypt.usembassy.gov/pa/xchgs.html 

Iraq: Unknown.

Israel (West/East Bank) and Gaza/Palestinian Territories: Feb 14 - http://photos.state.gov/libraries/jerusalem/5/pdfs/fy14_iwp-between-the-lines-student-announcemen.pdf

Jordan: Feb 8  - http://photos.state.gov/libraries/jordan/444376/pdf/areyouawriter.pdf

Kuwait: Feb 10 - http://kuwait.usembassy.gov/exchange2/between-the-lines-young-writers-program---call-for-applications.html

Lebanon: Feb 28 http://lebanon.usembassy.gov/writersprog.html

Libya: March 7 - http://libya.usembassy.gov/public_diplomacy_programs/between-the-lines-p...

Morocco: Feb 13 - http://morocco.usembassy.gov/education-culture/exchanges.html

Oman: Unknown.

Qatar: Unknown.

Saudi Arabia: Unknown. 

Yemen: Feb 19 - http://yemen.usembassy.gov/blwe.html

What exactly are you looking for in a student?

First and foremost, we want someone who is passionate about creative writing in their own language. Some of us have been writing ever since we first understood what a story or poem was. In the writing samples we want to see what best represents you as a writer today. Given our belief that in order to write, you have to read, we expect you to be an avid reader as well. You don't necessarily have to have received top marks in your literature or English classes, nor will we make you quote Emily Dickinson or Anton Chekhov at will. Since you will be spending a lot of time with fellow students, teachers and staff from different countries and cultures, it's very important that you be open to learning about the many different ways people live in the world and willing to share your own life experiences and unique point of view. Our ultimate goal is to create a community of friends that will continue to support each other in their creative efforts long after they have all gone home.

How old do I have to be to participate?

You must be between the ages of 16 and 19 as of June 21, 2014. No exceptions can be made to this rule.

Do I have to know another language to participate?

All students, both American and international, must be proficient in English in all forms (reading, writing and speaking). International students are also required to submit writing samples in both English and their native language (Russian or Arabic). Students will be placed in language-specific writing workshops depending on their native language. It is important to note that international students are chosen based on their creative writings IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE, not in English. 

I want to apply to BTL Arabic as an international student, but I do not live in any of the countries listed for 2014. Can I still apply?

Each year the State Department, which funds Between the Lines, determines which countries' American embassies will be invited to submit nominees. Only citizens of those countries are allowed to apply, and they must apply via the American Embassy. That said, if you are a citizen of one of the countries listed, but you do not reside in that country, contact the American Embassy in your country of citizenship to see if you qualify. 

I want to apply to BTL Russia as an international student, but I do not live in Russia. Can I still apply?

Only Russian citizens can apply to BTL Russia as international students. If you have Russian citizenship, contact the American Embassy in Moscow to see if you qualify.

How do you select students for the program?

A selection committee reviews all applications and supplemented materials and determines the final group of participants.

When will you notify applicants about your decision?

International applicants will be notified in late March or early April. US applicants will be notified late April.

In my writing sample, can I include the same story and/or poem in two different languages?

No. Each work submitted should be original and untranslated.

Can I include essays, school newspaper articles, or blog entries in my writing sample?

If your blog entry contains original fiction and/or poetry, then yes, it can be included. Otherwise, we are only interested in reading your original fiction and/or poetry. WE DO NOT ACCEPT SCHOOL ESSAYS.

How much does it cost to attend?

For accepted international students, all fees, including travel, lodging and meals, are paid. As required by the State Department, students will travel with an adult chaperone, hired by the International Writing Program, on the transcontinental flight to and from the United States. BTL Russia students will leave from Moscow. BTL Arabic students will leave from a city or cities to be determined.

Is there financial aid available?

For accepted international students, no additional financial aid is available.

Where will students live?

Students will live in a dorm on the University of Iowa campus. Dorms are clean, comfortable, well-lit, and very secure. Doors are locked each night and security personnel visit each floor regularly. A residence hall manager is available 24 hours a day. Students will be on floors separated by gender, and will live in double rooms. Also living with the students will be counselors, who are hired by the program and undergo background checks and University training. They help maintain a fun but safe environment.

I have relatives in the Iowa City area. Can I reside with them during the program?

No. Between the Lines requires all participants to live in the dorm for the duration of the program.

What happens if there's a health concern or emergency?

If a student falls ill or is injured, they will be taken to the appropriate UI Hospitals and Clinics facility. All costs are the responsibility of the students and/or parents. In order to participate, students and parents must sign a set of forms that include basic health information as well as emergency contact and consent information, all of which is kept strictly confidential.

International students will receive basic health coverage through the State Department. This coverage is not all-inclusive. The American Embassy contact in your country will have more information.

Do you offer college credit for this program or the courses taken?

No.

What will a typical weekday be like?

After breakfast (all meals are served in Burge Dining Hall, which is near the dorm), students and staff will meet to receive announcements about the day's events. Afterwards, all students will attend a world literature seminar, taught in English, in which they will discuss various prose pieces and poetry with an eye towards craft: How do these writers do what they do and how can we as writers learn from them? Lunch is followed by a short period of free time during which students can rest, hang out, or prepare for the next class. The remainder of the afternoon is taken up by a writing workshop, in which students will try their hand at writing various forms of prose and poetry and share their work with each other. There are two workshops: one for students writing in English and one for students writing in a different language (Russian, Arabic). After the workshop, instructors are available to talk with students about their work. Evenings will consist of at least one activity scheduled by program staff, which may or may not be optional. Most evenings students will have plenty of free time to read, write, use the computer, or explore the campus and nearby downtown.

All students are required to be in the dorm building by 10:00 pm, on their floors by 11:00 pm, and in their rooms by 11:30 pm. This rule is in effect every day of the program, including weekends.

Can I switch between writing workshops?

No. However, part of what makes this program unique is that there will be a mix of languages spoken and written, and you are strongly encouraged to share and explore them with your classmates as well as the instructors and staff. We also try to have one English writing workshop that any interested students can attend. That will only be for one day.

Do you offer writing workshops in languages other than English, Russian and Arabic?

Not at this time, no. We hope to expand our language offerings and outreach in the future, though!

What can you tell me about the instructors in the program?

Instructor information is coming soon!

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August 2014

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