Educational Exchanges Bosnia and Herzegovina – USA [ENG]

Ambasada SAD u BiH: Omladinski liderski program za studente i nastavnike [ENG]

ambasada SAD slika

A program of the U.S. Department of State and the Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Sarajevo, Administered in the United States by The Foundation for International Understanding through Students, Seattle, Washington.

– Wednesday, October 23rd – Monday, November 17th 2014

Secondary school students and teachers from Sarajevo and Banja Luka are invited to apply for participation in the fall 2014 Youth Leadership Program for Bosnia and Herzegovina, with an integrated Teacher Professional Development Program. Students and teachers will participate in a 28-day program of intercultural experiences and skills workshops and a highly interactive set of courses with local experts. Through engagement in the activities of U.S. high schools, local NGOs, and Seattle civic leaders, students and teachers will better understand civic participation and the roles and responsibilities of a leader in a diverse democracy. Throughout the program students will explore critical thinking, consensus building and service as tools for advocacy and leadership.

This is a six-month program with 3 distinctive training segments: A pre-departure orientation in Sarajevo, a four-week program that will offer 18 students and 3 teachers the opportunity to explore the principles of leadership and community activism in the United States, and a four-month period during which participants conduct a project in their hometowns. The program will be intensive, academic, and highly interactive. The program sponsors seek energetic applicants who are ready to develop their skills in order to be effective leaders in their schools and communities. Students and teachers will be expected to participate in all aspects of the program and implement follow-on projects in their hometowns.


The goals of this program are to enhance the understanding of democratic process and discourse, build understanding between fellow participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, empower youth to have a voice in the debates shaping the future of their communities, and to provide the skills and contacts for youth to conduct projects in their own cities.

PHASE I: Pre-Departure Orientation: The Office of Public Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo and The Foundation for International Understanding through Students (FIUTS) will conduct a pre-departure orientation for students and educators about three weeks before their departure for the United States. Topics addressed during the orientation include an explanation of the goals of the program and the expectations and responsibilities of educators and students, information about the program activities, American culture and customs, the U.S. system of government, economic structure, society, the media, concepts of civil society, public and community service, and information on the logistical arrangements.

PHASE II: U.S.-Based Program: On and near the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington, students and teachers will explore what it means to be an active citizen in a diverse democracy. Participants will meet local youth and civic leaders committed to activism and community service. Participants will then embark on a cultural trip to Washington, DC.

Program activities include:

Personal Leadership Retreat

  • Exploring leadership on the individual, group and community levels
  • Participating in fun, outdoor teambuilding activities

A series of workshops and courses led by business professionals and civic leaders, topics include:

  • Exploring democracy and civic engagement
  • Leadership and community service
  • Diversity in a democratic society

In addition to the topics listed above, teachers will participate in professional development sessions.

  • Cultural activities and connections in Washington including: Hands-on cultural enrichment activities in Western Washington
  • Home stays with local families
  • Outings in Seattle, Olympia and other parts of Washington to sites with cultural, historical, and natural importance
  • Visits to local high school classes on government, history, social studies, and other relevant topics
  • Community service project with a local NGO
  • Extra-curricular activities with U.S. peers

Educational and cultural visit to Washington, DC

  • Reflection activities
  • Tours of monuments, centers of government, museums, and other sites of cultural interest

PHASE III: Follow-on projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Participants return to Bosnia and Herzegovina with plans to apply the knowledge gained from the program directly to their communities. While the students and teachers are in the United States, the Youth Leadership Program staff will emphasize the importance of initiating community-based projects and will introduce the participants to the follow-on project guidelines and opportunities. In Bosnia and Herzegovina participants will work with at least one of their peers to develop and implement a community service project. The Youth Leadership Program staff from FIUTS will stay in frequent contact with the students and teachers to offer assistance with training experiences, difficulties and questions about their projects.

What else do I need to know?

The United States Government, in conjunction with its private partners, will pay for ground transportation to and from Sarajevo, international transportation to and from the United States, orientations, program fees and administration, site visits and seminars, lodging and meals, some cultural activities, educational materials, accident and sickness insurance, and a modest amount of pocket money. Participants will stay with volunteer host families. Participants are responsible for expenses related to the application process (copying, mailing, photographs, etc.), passport fees, and spending money for souvenirs, telephone calls, and other personal items in the United States.

Participants will travel to the United States on J-1 exchange visitor visas provided through this program. By accepting this visa, participants will be subject to a two-year home residency requirement, meaning they must return to and live in Bosnia-Herzegovina following the Program for a total of two years before they would be eligible for an immigrant or temporary worker U.S. visa. This does not restrict other types of visas, however, so this would not prevent you from being able to apply for a student visa to attend university, for example.

Who is eligible to apply?

Student applicants must:

  • Be at least 15 years old and not more than 18 years old by October 1, 2014
  • Have a high school graduation year of 2016 or later
  • Possess good English skills
  • Obtain permission from both parents and school to participate in the entire U.S. program

Adult applicants must:

  • Be active in working with youth in either a high school or community setting
  • Be willing and able to meet periodically with selected students from all schools in their city during the academic year 2015-2016 to support their follow-up work
  • Possess good English skills

What are the criteria for selection?

Students will be evaluated on the following characteristics:

  • A demonstrated interest in and commitment to volunteer and participate in civic activities
  • Leadership potential
  • Good social and communication skills
  • Good academic performance
  • Proficiency in English
  • The desire and ability to implement projects that benefit the applicant’s school and community

Adult applicants will be evaluated on the following factors:

  • Demonstrated history of supporting youth activities
  • Strong record in teaching and/or youth programs
  • Demonstrated leadership
  • Proficiency in English
  • Commitment to working with youth after the project to help them implement projects

How do I apply?

Complete an application form and submit it to the Office of Public Affairs of the American Embassy in Sarajevo by September 12, 2014. Take special care in answering the essay questions, and answer in your own words (without outside help). All applications must be typed. To get the YLP application please send an e-mail to:


Either two letters of recommendation from senior teachers or school officials or one from a senior teacher or school official and one from a community leader who knows your experience in working with teenagers.
The Office of Public Affairs will contact the applicants selected for interviews based on the criteria above, as demonstrated in the application. Individual and small group interviews will take place in Sarajevo and Banja Luka in September 2014.

The list of 21 finalists and six alternates will be announced on or about September 30, 2014.

And after that…?

The selected participants will receive orientation materials in the weeks prior to the start of the program to help prepare them for the Program and their trip to the United States.

During Phase 1, participants will take part in a pre-departure orientation as the beginning of this Leadership program. Participants and their families will have an opportunity to meet Embassy staff to discuss the program.

On – October 23, 2014, participants will travel to the United States for Phase 2, and will return on November 17, 2014.

After their return to Bosnia and Herzegovina and through the summer, participants will be responsible for completing Phase 3 of the program: conducting a leadership project in their communities. Program Staff and the U.S. Embassy will present certificates to the participants upon the completion of their projects.

Thank you for your interest in the program and good luck with your applications!

More info: