FAQ for International (Non-U.S.) Students

Application/selection process

How do I apply to the program?

Once the application cycle is open, you should carefully read the program's How To Apply page for application details. The application process is different depending on where you live. International applicants apply through the Cultural Affairs Office at the U.S./American Embassy in their country. Embassy deadlines vary, so contact them sooner rather than later.

What exactly are you looking for in a student?

We want applicants who are passionate about creative writing. 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. This doesn’t mean that you have to have straight As, or that you have to be able to quote classic literature from memory. Read with your heart open and your mind curious.

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 the two-week program ends.

How old do I have to be to participate?

Participants must be ages 15-18 by the start of the program.
The IWP can make no exceptions to the rules regarding ages.

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). It is important to note that international students are chosen based on their skills in English and not their own language.

I want to apply to a session of Between the Lines (BTL) as an international student, but I do not live in any of the countries listed for this year. Can I still apply?

Each year the U.S. State Department, which funds BTL: Peace and the Writing Experience, determines which countries' U.S./American Embassies will be invited to submit nominees. Only citizens of those countries are allowed to apply, and they must apply via their country’s U.S./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 U.S./American Embassy in your country of citizenship to see if you qualify. BTL hopes to one day expand to additional countries.

How do you select students for the program?

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

When will you notify applicants about your decision?

International applicants will be notified in May.

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 creative prose and/or poetry, then yes, it can be included. Academic essays, school newspaper articles, book reports, and other academic writing will not be accepted.

Tuition and fees

How much does it cost to attend?

BTL 2021 virtual programs are free.

Life during BTL

What are the technological requirements to participate in the virtual program?

Zoom works best on a laptop or home computer equipped with a camera, microphone and connected to reliable high-speed internet. A mobile phone is also a good back up. If you are concerned about your ability to meet these requirements contact the IWP Youth Programs Coordinator at btl-program@uiowa.edu to discuss avenues of support.

My home is full of people, sometimes noisy, and I have no privacy. Can I still participate?
Yes. We understand that BTL from home poses spatial challenges and participants don’t have full control of their environment. We encourage you to discuss the program needs with your family so they can give you their full support.

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

In order to participate virtually, 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. If you need to miss a workshop due to a health concern or emergency, we ask that you notify BTL staff in advance.

Classes and schedule

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

No.

What will a typical weekday be like?

In a virtual format, BTL holds one or two, two-hour meetings per day. M-W-F are writing workshops and T-Th are literature seminars. On days with special guest seminars, BTL meets twice with a break in between. Including daily assignments, participants can expect to dedicate a total of 4-5 hours a day to BTL activities. Workshops communicate through Zoom (audio and video on!) and writing is exchanged via private BTL groups in Write the World, an online global creative writing platform for teens. Participants also take turns documenting their daily experiences in posts for the BTL Instagram @btl_uiiwp and connect in private Facebook and WhatsApp groups.

During virtual BTL you remain in your spatial comfort zone, but be prepared to step out of your comfort time zone! Start times of 8am CT, 9am CT, or even noon CT are not uncommon, so some folks might need to become early birds or night owls. Most participants find that a change in routine is mostly inspiring, sometimes tiring, and always intensely good for writing!

Do you offer writing workshops in languages other than English?

Writing in multiple languages is encouraged in workshops, but English is the common language of the camp. Feel free to engage in cross-translation: there will be special workshops for thinking about language, intimacy, literature, and power designed for just this purpose.

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

Between the Lines carefully chooses writers who are also great teachers. See Past Sessions for details about instructors from previous years.

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