What: Between the Lines (BTL) is a two-week cultural exchange program for young Russian, Arabic-speaking and American students who are interested in creative writing, either as a pastime or as a career. The State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (Cultural Programs Division) in partnership with the University of Iowa will offer the opportunity for them to grow as writers and participate in a conversation about and exploration of creative writing and literature.
The program will host 10 writers aged 16-18 from Russia for a residency at the University of Iowa. The activities will include writing workshops both in English and Russian, seminars on literary topics, cultural visits, and other local events. The young writers will be immersed in the premier creative writing culture in the United State as part of an exchange that will broaden and sharpen their writing skills, deepen their understanding of American society, build bridges with young American writers who will participate in creative language classes alongside the ECA-sponsored writers from Russia. At the culmination of the on-site program, students’ writings in both English and Russian will be collected into a printed booklet to be used for educational purposes.
Russian participants will travel to and from the United States with a Russian teacher who will accompany the students as a chaperone. The chaperone will have the chance to enrich his/her teaching and writing skills during his/her time in the United States and will participate fully in the cultural exchange.
The BTL Program will cover costs for this cultural and creative exchange, including international travel and food and lodging in the United States, and will provide coverage of other expenses associated with the students’/chaperone’s cultural exchange in the United States. Lodging in Moscow and in-country travel across Russia in preparation for the trip are generally not covered by the program, but limited funding may be available to needy participants on a case-by-case basis.
Who: The BTL Program is looking for talented, curious, enthusiastic young writers of fiction and/or poetry who meet the following criteria:
Study in school at the time of application;
Age 16, 17, or 18 as of June 21, 2015
Able to demonstrate proficiency in English and Russian (reading, writing, and speaking)
Able to engage and thrive in an atmosphere that brings together different kinds of people and views
Important: If you are in the 11th grade, please carefully consider Unified State Exam dates, university application process, and your ability to travel on the program.
Requirements for chaperone applicants who will accompany the participants:
Age 25- 40 as of June 21, 2015
Proficiency in English (reading, writing and speaking)
A reliable, mature adult willing to take on the dual responsibilities of his/her own writing program as well as the young participants’ needs.
Preferred occupation and skills: An ideal chaperone might be a secondary school teacher who is interested in creative writing, both personally and professionally, and who is familiar with creative writing teaching methods; who has not spent a long time in the United States; and who is ready to assume duties of overseeing secondary school students on an international cultural exchange. It may also be an active person involved in the local youth community in some way that fosters creative writing, who is interested in Russian literature and in teaching creative writing to young people.
Deadlines: All student and chaperone applicants should complete application materials and e-mail them by February 5, 2015 to the Educational Exchanges Office at email@example.com. Please check the detailed requirements for application format here. Applications that do not meet the requirements will be considered technically ineligible.
A writing sample of 6-8 pages of prose and/or poetry in Russian;
A writing sample of 6-8 pages of prose and/or poetry in English (not a translation of the Russian sample);
A brief one-paragraph statement of purpose in English (no more than 250 words) describing why writing is important to the life of the applicant and what he/she hopes to learn during the BLT Program;
A writing sample of 2-5 pages of prose and/or poetry in either language (Russian or English) in response to one of the following writing prompts:
During breakfast you are startled by a heavy knock at the door. It is someone who demands something from you. Who is it, what does he/she need, and what happens next? Write a short story or poem.
Write a short story or poem that contains three (3) of the following objects and one (1) place: Objects: old bicycle, uncomfortable couch, leaking canoe, sleeping puppy, love note, truth serum; Places: cruise ship, forest with a lake, empty street at dawn, deserted dance club.