The University of Iowa

Now accepting applications for Between the Lines

The International Writing Program is currently accepting US applications for Between the Lines (BTL), a unique summer program for youth 16-19 years old interested in creative writing and cultural exchange. Supported through funding from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and now in its sixth year, the program has grown to include students from the USA, Canada and Russia, along with a wide array of participants from the Middle East and North Africa.  In 2013, IWP will host two summer sessions, BTL Arabic World and BTL Russia, with a total of 44 students from at least twelve different countries.

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In each two-week session, participants learn from one another through creative writing workshops, one-on-one mentoring, a world literatures class, Skype seminars with international authors, and cultural activities. Popular events include peer-led Arabic 101 and Russian 101, Cinémathèque Night where students share films from their native countries, and the annual student reading and talent show. Young writers also have the chance to explore Iowa City and the surrounding countryside: past sessions have featured a hayride at a working farm, paddleboating at Lake MacBride State Park, bookstore crawls, and more.

“This is a marvelous opportunity for students not only to learn the art and craft of writing from some of the best writer-teachers around but also to engage in a cross-cultural dialogue with their peers from abroad,” said Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program.

Participants live and learn on the University of Iowa’s campus, staying in dormitories staffed with trained counselors and attending daily workshops and classes with respected authors from both the US and abroad. For 2013, the instructors for BTL Arabic will be poet John Murillo and Egyptian satirist Ghada Abdel Aal; BTL Russia will be led by Iowa Writers’ Workshop poetry aluma Kiki Petrosino and Russian novelist Alan Cherchesov. BTL offers young writers the chance to experience other cultures and campus life at a major university via a small, structured program run by experienced staff. By the end of each session participants become part of a tightknit international community of friendship and creative support that continues beyond everyone’s time in Iowa City. Teens who attend BTL grow not only as writers, but as citizens of the world. As Ghenim Houda, a BTL ’10 participant from Algeria wrote in an interview, “I have only two pieces of advice for future BTLers: don’t hesitate to participate and prepare yourself for the best experience ever!”

The 2013 application cycle for US applicants is open until April 20th. More information about the program, the application process, and tuition can be found at the Between the Lines Website and its Facebook page.