By Rizwaan Akhtar, World Learning Youth Programs Officer
For the past few years, fasting during Ramadan has overlapped for me with the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP). These two month-long experiences are both so special to me as they bring together the spirit of community and togetherness with the values of leadership and service. It is a blessing to be able to connect my personal intentions for fasting with my intention for the program to create more just, empowered, and tolerant communities. I am excited that another Ramadan has begun, and I’m especially looking forward to celebrating Eid with both American and Iraqi youth on SIT’s campus this year on the first full day of IYLEP!
World Learning brings about 150 Iraqi high school students to the US each summer through IYLEP to explore themes of leadership development, civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and community engagement. More than 1,000 young people from Iraq and the US have participated in the program since 2007. IYLEP is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.