BTL Frequently Asked Questions

Tuition and fees

How much does it cost to apply?

There is no fee to apply. Find application information for U.S.-based students here, and for international (non-U.S.-based) students here.

How much does it cost to attend?

Participation in the BTL 2023 program is free.

If I am accepted, but I have to cancel, what is your policy?

Since BTL 2023 is free of cost to all participants, you won’t lose any money for canceling, but please don’t waste a spot! If you need to cancel, for a reason other than a last-minute illness, we request to hear from you no later than May 31 so we can invite a student to join from our alternate list. 

Application/selection process

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?

For all BTL sessions this summer, students must be between 15-18 years old by the time 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, are required to be proficient in English in all forms (reading, writing, and speaking). Knowledge of another language—Russian, Arabic, or any other—is not required, but it is a definite plus, particularly if you are currently studying another language, or if you grew up in a home or community where different languages are regularly used. There will be a lot of cross-translation going on!

Can I include work from different languages in my writing sample?

All applicants must submit their writing samples in English. Throughout BTL there will be opportunities to utilize any knowledge you have of other languages through collaborative translation activities.

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, and book reports will not be accepted.

How do you select students for the program?

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

When will you notify applicants about your decision?

Applicants will be notified in May.

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 iwp@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 1 or 2 meetings per day, lasting 2-3 hours each. Typically, Monday/Wednesday/Friday are writing workshops and Tuesday/Thursday are literature seminars. On days with special guest seminars, BTL meets twice with a short break in between. Including daily assignments, participants can expect to dedicate a total of 4-6 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 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?

Workshops are offered in English, but 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.

Application/selection process

How do I apply to the program?

Once the application cycle is open, you should carefully read the apllication instructions for application details. The application process is different depending on where you live. Find application information for U.S.-based students here, and for international (non-U.S.-based) students here. International applicants apply through the Cultural Affairs Office at the U.S./American embassy or consulate in their country. Embassy deadlines vary, so contact them sooner rather than later. We suggest you look at embassy Facebook pages, websites, and other social media for contact information and BTL application announcements. 

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. Countries vary from year to year. 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?

The BTL 2023 program is 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 1 or 2 meetings per day, lasting 2-3 hours each. Typically, Monday/Wednesday/Friday are writing workshops and Tuesday/Thursday are literature seminars. On days with special guest seminars, BTL meets twice with a short break in between. Including daily assignments, participants can expect to dedicate a total of 4-6 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 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.

Happening Now

  • Ranjit Hoskote’s speech at the 2024 Goa Literary Festival addresses the current situation in Gaza.

  • In NY Times, Bina Shah worries about the state of Pakistani—and American—democracy.

  • “I went to [Ayodhya] to think about what it means to be an Indian and a Hindu... ”  A new essay by critic and novelist Chandrahas Choudhury.

  • In the January 2024 iteration of the French/English non-fiction site Frictions, T J Benson writes about “Riding Afrobeats Across the World.” Also new, a next installment in the bilingual series featuring work by students from Paris VIII’s Creative Writing program and the University of Iowa’s NFW program.

  • in NYTimes, Sanam Maher examines a new book about women defending themselves when the justice system in their country won’t.

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