In America, all things are possible.
In America, all things are possible.

Between 2003 and 2007, I went to Iraq so many times I lost count.

Each time, I returned from the violence and mayhem perplexed at what anyone or any nation can do to truly help Iraq, or the Middle East as a whole.

I felt like Tolstoy asking, “What then must we do?”

I think the World Affairs Council might have an answer. Change Iraq one kid at a time.

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is gearing up to welcome the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program  from July 21 to August 4.

They still need last-minute host families for four young leaders. The council is pitching this as “a chance to travel the world without leaving your home,” while sharing the warmth and hospitality that make Louisville great.

I see it differently. I know so many people from other countries who came to America and were changed by it literally overnight. Who took home an understanding of, and an appreciation for, our culture of tolerance, freedom and, well, just great social cohesion — something many never see in their chaotic home countries.

rgMlRNz6MMOhxFDEPaoHAc0AwsKyxhGNdRIjsz_egge72FXXPfqV2f-zUhsoY-vsdhfYF4EZpD-UFthUtBim7MhemPg1_bn5q0HiAnlf1sokzXuOyYuTL_mg_lxKRtOpcWmwWpkBJA3O3EobYviJ0y7ll0iYDIB60BxS9w=s0-d-e1-ftThe responsibilities of a host include:

• Providing a private sleeping space for your exchange student

• Including your student in morning and evening meals, as well as family activities in the evenings and on host family days

• When possible, transportation to and from World Affairs Council’s offices downtown in the morning and afternoon is much appreciated!

For details, contact Christy Rhodes, WAC Visitor Program Manager, at [email protected] or by calling 502-561-5422.

2DKuZ5SE7pWpNf5b9vGpV3F9AN-s-XdyUx0m2sNxByuVLDlPaGJehmnzPZLUi9MlLA-dSsXEPkdZRXddrLcoXqfjtMV6LXJLngCQ_aOa45pBhcAWN43XAJVR0B_jE4ovFeIz6GXoVtLIMFybP9EdS12WkiNBmD8L-D4S7w=s0-d-e1-ftMeet the four young Iraqi leaders:

Aya (16) lives with her parents and her two older sisters. She describes herself as responsible and a good friend. She loves to read, write poetry, play ping pong and soccer, and watch movies (especially Angelina Jolie movies!). She only eats halal meat, and her favorite food is spaghetti. During her time in America, she is looking forward to meeting people from different cultures and having new experiences.

Basma (16) lives with her parents, brother, and sister. She describes herself as a hard worker and a loyal friend. She enjoys playing harmonica, reading science fiction books, and listening to music. She has no dietary restrictions, and her favorite food is macaroni. Through IYLEP, she is looking forward to making new friends, learning about other cultures, and gaining skills to become a better leader.

Halah (16) lives with her parents and two brothers. She describes herself as a good student, confident, and a helpful friend. She enjoys all kinds of sports, especially tennis, soccer, and basketball. She also likes to read and watch movies. She only eats halal meat, and her favorite food is pizza. During her time in America, she is looking forward to seeing the other side of the world, making new friends, and becoming a better leader.

Noor (28) is the adult mentor for the group. She studied computer engineering for her undergraduate degree. She loves to travel, swim, and take pictures. She also enjoys working with children and young adults. She describes herself as adaptable and strong-willed. She only eats halal meat and loves pasta. She prefers to stay at a home with no animals. She hopes to develop her leadership skills during her time on the program.

These students still need host families! This is a chance for you and your family to learn more about Iraq AND give back to youth from around the globe.

About the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program:  IYLEP is funded by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The program provides six weeks of fully funded leadership training and classroom instruction to students from Iraq.

Selected from hundreds of talented applicants, participants begin their trainings at SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont, where they focus on team-building, interpersonal leadership skills, and cross-cultural communication. Participants then break into smaller groups and move to a different US city, where they live with a host family and learn about civil society development and advocacy. The program culminates in a visit to Washington, DC, where participants regroup for civic education activities and integrate what they’ve learned during the program into their experience.

Louisville has had the honor of being one of the few U.S. cities to be selected as a host community for the program each summer. During their time here, they will focus on entrepreneurship, visiting various organization in the Kentuckiana area that encourage youth involvement in entrepreneurship, as well as some recreational activities to give the students a taste of Kentucky culture.

Terry Boyd
Terry Boyd has seven years experience as a business/finance journalist, and eight years a military reporter with European Stars and Stripes. As a banking and finance reporter at Business First, Boyd dealt directly with the most influential executives and financiers in Louisville.