BTL Frequently Asked Questions

Tuition and fees

How much does it cost to apply?

There is no fee to apply. Find application information here.

How much does it cost to attend?

BTL 2022 programs are free.

What if I want to apply to both BTL: Identity and Belonging and  BTL: Peace and the Writing Experience?

While students can only participate in one session, if you are an American student willing to attend either BTL session, please note there will be a space in the application form to indicate your program preference or whether you'd like to be considered for either session. 

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

Since BTL 2022 is free of cost to all participants, you won’t lose any money for cancelling, 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 31so 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 camp.
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 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.

In order to participate in-person, 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. Carefully read BTL's Covid-related policies and procedures here>.

Any symptomatic student will be put in contact with UI QuickCare and asked to take a PCR test. If the test is positive, the student will be moved to a dedicated isolation room where they will be housed and looked after until they can be picked up by their emergency contact. Every student who attends an in-person session will be required to designate an emergency contact who can pick them up from the program within 24 hours of a positive PCR test. The University of Iowa cannot provide isolation rooms for infected students for more than 24 hours.

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!

In an in-person format, participants will be paired with a roommate in Catlett Residence Hall, and supervised by camp counselors. After breakfast (all meals are served in Catlett Market Place, which is in 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. Workshops are conducted in English. 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. 

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 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. 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?

BTL 2022 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 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.

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