Between the Lines (BTL): Peace and the Writing Experience

Dates: July 10 – July 24, 2021 (online)

The U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan announces an open competition for the 2021 “Between the Lines: Peace and the Writing Experience (BTL)” Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. BTL: Peace and the Writing Experience will bring together 40 international and 10 U.S.-based students, ages 15-18, for two weeks of intensive BTL summer programming hosted online by the International Writing Program (IWP) and the University of Iowa (UI). All programming is conducted in English and includes creative writing workshops, world literature seminars, literary readings and Q&As with visiting authors, youth and mentor conversation sessions, social opportunities for cultural exchange, as well as group and individual writing assignments outside of class. The virtual program is free of cost for all selected participants.

Eligibility for the Between the Lines: Peace and the Writing Experience Program:

  1. Applicants must be a citizen of the country in which they apply for the BTL Program.
  2. Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 18 as of July 10, 2021.
  3. Applicants must be proficient in English (reading, writing, and speaking); and able to participate effectively in online intercultural exchange.

To apply, submit the following materials to no later than March 24, 2021. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

a) An International Student Application Form (PDF 245 KB).

b) A writing sample of 6–8 pages of prose (creative fiction/nonfiction) and/or poetry in English. Critical essays (book reports, academic reports, and so forth) will not be accepted. Document types accepted: PDF, DOC, DOCX. All writing samples must be sent in 12-point font, double-spaced, and have one-inch margins.

c) An essay, in English, of no more than three pages in response to the following prompt: “In our daily lives, we navigate many different roles—student, sibling, daughter, son, peer. We negotiate family, friends, religious groups, as well as class, gender, race, country, and so many other groups, adjusting the way we speak or behave to fit the demands of each encounter. As we move through the day, we work through how and why we occupy each particular role. What do you consider to be the strongest, most central aspects of your identity? What does it mean to you to be a member of (or seen as a member of) a particular group? In what way does your identity influence you as a creative writer and reader?”

d) A brief response (no longer than 300 words) to the following: “An essential component of Between the Lines is encouraging participants to explore the unfamiliar and unknown in a safe and supportive setting. Please describe a time in your past when you had to engage with a new situation, person, or idea that initially felt uncomfortable or strange. How did you proceed? If you had the chance, what would you do the same, and what would you do differently?”

e) A brief statement of purpose (no more than 250 words), in English, describing why writing is important to the applicant’s life, and what he/she hopes to learn at BTL.

Language Skills: All participants must have the ability to read, write, and converse in English. During the two-week program, students will take a writing-focused literature seminar—in English—with their American and international counterparts. They will also participate in a writing workshop with BTL faculty. Active discussion is an essential element of instruction.