Leadership development is focus of State Department program bringing 100 Iraqi students to Wayne State July 5-9

100 Iraqi students arrived at Wayne State University July 5 as part of the Iraq Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), a four-week summer exchange sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and administered by World Learning.

IYLEP brings English-speaking Iraqi students to the U.S. to learn about leadership development, civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and community engagement. Wayne State was selected by World Learning to host the orientation for the monthlong IYLEP program, providing participants with their first glimpse of America and university life.

The Office of International Programs (OIP) is proud to host the program, according to Ahmad Ezzeddine, associate vice president for OIP and Educational Outreach.

“Being selected by World Learning to host the orientation portion of the IYLEP program demonstrates that Wayne State University is recognized as a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for international students,” Ezzeddine says.

“It’s important that the orientation is in Detroit, because we are an international city and this is where the students will begin learning about America – through the lens of Detroit. The city is a great comeback story. We do have a large Arab population here, but there are so many nationalities living in the metro area that this is the perfect place for these students to start.”

After a week at Wayne State, the students will be divided into smaller groups that go on to the University of Arkansas, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, University of Montana or Washington State University.

Students were selected for this highly competitive, national program after a vigorous application and review process. The group includes Sunni, Shia and Kurdish Iraqi high school students who do not know one another, with one goal of the program being to foster understanding and relationships between people of different ethnic and religious groups. The students must implement a service project in their community when they return home.

During orientation at Wayne State, IYLEP students will learn about U.S. culture, networking, digital etiquette and community mapping, while getting to know one another and touring campus, touring Detroit, participating in specialized workshops and other activities.

IYLEP students stay in university housing, interact with WSU students and meet with leaders from numerous student organizations while on campus.

“Wayne State students come from 80 countries and diversity is one of our strengths,” Ezzeddine says. “We are committed to providing an educational experience with open dialogue, where students can learn and become well-prepared to live and work in a global, peaceful society.”

The Office of International Programs leads Wayne State’s global engagement by creating opportunities that foster international education and research, facilitate the exchange of individuals and ideas that promote global competencies and citizenship, and provide resources that support the expansion of the university’s global agenda.

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