Youth Leadership Program (YLP)

Youth Leadership and Teacher Professional Development with Bosnia and Herzegovina

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 Magee Womancare International, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Program Exchange dates: Sunday, April 8 – Monday, April 30, 2017

Secondary school students and teachers from Stolac, Doboj, and Zenica are invited to apply for participation in the spring 2017 Youth Leadership Program for Bosnia and Herzegovina, with an integrated Teacher Professional Development Program. Students and teachers will participate in a 24-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 Pittsburgh 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 community service as tools for advocacy and leadership.

This is a 9 month program with 3 distinctive training phases:

Phase I.   A pre-departure orientation in Sarajevo, March 4-8, 2017.
Phase II.  A 24-day exchange program in April 2017 that will offer 18
students and 3 teachers the opportunity to explore the
principles of leadership and community activism in the
United States.

Phase III.  A 6 month period during which participants conduct a
Community Action Project (CAP) in their hometowns
May – Nov. 2017.

The program will be intensive, academic, and highly interactive. The program sponsors seek energetic applicants who are ready to develop their leadership 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 Community Action 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 action projects in their own cities.

PHASE I: Pre-Departure Orientation (March 4-8, 2017): The Office of Public Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo and Magee Womancare International (MWI) will conduct a 5 day pre-departure orientation for students and educators about three weeks before their departure for the United States. Topics addressed during the orientation include:

  • Program goals, expectations, and responsibilities of educators and students
  • American culture and customs, U.S. civics and governmental system, and the city of Pittsburgh
  • How to prepare for your trip to the United States
  • Introduction to leadership, critical thinking, and a Community Action Project (CAP)

PHASE II: U.S.-Based Program (Sunday, April 8 – Monday, April 30, 2017) In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvanian 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 an educational and cultural trip to Washington, D.C.

Program activities include

Leadership Retreat:

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

Interactive workshops and activities led by professionals and civic leaders on the following topics:

  • Exploring democracy and civic engagement
  • Leadership, critical thinking, and community service-learning
  • Understanding the benefits of diversity and tolerance in a democratic society
  • Youth mediating peer conflicts
  • Asset-based community development
  • Strategic planning and proposal/budget writing for CAP implementation

*(In addition to the topics listed above, teachers will participate in professional development sessions as well).

Cultural enrichment activities: 

  • Visit to sites with cultural and historical importance: Heinz History Museum, Point State Park, Cathedral of Learning’s Nationality Rooms, and a Pittsburgh Pirate baseball game.
  • Home stays with local families
  • Visit a local high school and shadow American students to their classes on government, history, social studies, and other relevant topics; meet with student clubs
  • Extra-curricular activities with U.S. peers and YLP alumni

Additional Pittsburgh activities:

  • Community service projects with local youth-led organizations and NGOs
  • Meetings with local government representatives

Educational and cultural visit to Washington, D.C.:

  • Tours of monuments, centers of government, museums, and other sites of cultural interest
  • Community service-learning projects
  • CAP development
  • Personal & Group Reflection activities
  • Visit to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs office

PHASE III: Follow-on projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina (June-November, 2017): 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 CAPs, which are community-based service projects and will introduce the participants to the follow-on project guidelines and opportunities. In Bosnia and Herzegovina participants will work in city teams or with at least one of their peers to develop and implement a CAP. The Youth Leadership Program staff from MWI 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, 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 a 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
  • Have a high school graduation year of 2018 or later
  • Possess strong English skills
  • Obtain permission from both parents and/or guardians and his/her school Principal 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 2017-2018 to support their follow-up work
  • Possess strong English skills

What are the criteria for selection?

Students will be evaluated on the following characteristics:

  • A demonstrated interest in and commitment to volunteering and participating in civic activities
  • Leadership potential and interest
  • Highly self-motivated, curious/inquisitive/eager to learn
  • Good social and communication skills
  • Open-minded
  • 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 exchange 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 January 20, 2017. 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 their applications. Individual and small group interviews will take place in Zenica, Stolac and Doboj in February 2017.

The list of 21 finalists and six alternates will be announced on or about February 23, 2017.

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 April 8, 2017, participants will travel to the United States for Phase 2, and will return on April 30, 2017.

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!