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“Between the Lines” International Writing Program
February 17, 2021

Applications are closed

Writing Experience Informational Webinar and Mini Workshop

The Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau’s Cultural Programs Division, in partnership with the International Writing Program (IWP) at The University of Iowa, announces a call for nominations for the 2021 “Between the Lines: Peace and the Writing Experience (BTL)” Program. In a virtual format, BTL will bring together young writers between the ages of 15 and 18 for a two-week, online creative writing program from July 10 to July 24, 2021.  The application due date is March 19, 2021.

BTL Program Description:

The BTL program will virtually host 40 writers, ages 15–18, from select countries, alongside 10 U.S. peers for a two-week online program from July 10 to July 24, 2021.  All program activities will be in English and will include synchronized writing workshops, world literature seminars, special literary events, and social opportunities for cultural exchange, as well as group and individual writing assignments outside of class. Upon the completion of the program, each participant will receive a certificate (PDF) and IWP will digitally publish the students’ writing as an anthology. BTL: Peace and the Writing Experience 2021 alumni may also be eligible to apply for BTL follow-on microgrants. These funds will support new work that promotes creative writing and literature, youth leadership skills, professional development, community engagement, and community transformation through collaborative literary projects.  Participants can expect to spend approximately 4-5 hours a day engaged in BTL activities.

ECA grant funds will cover all international participants’ program costs for the virtual exchange.

Please note that IWP will host an informational webinar on February 21st for prospective applicants to learn more about this year’s virtual BTL program. The webinar will be an opportunity for young writers who are interested in the BTL program to join IWP staff, and BTL faculty and alumni for writing activities and a Q&A session about the program and the application/nomination process:

BTL: Peace and the Writing Experience Informational Webinar and Mini Workshop
When: Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30 PM Central Time

Register in advance:

How to Apply to BTL: 

All applications must be submitted to the U.S. Consulate in Almaty at almaty@state.gov. The U.S. Consulate will be responsible for selecting nominees to move to the second stage where finalists will be selected. Being chosen as a nominee by the U.S. Consulate does not guarantee entry into this program.

Additional Materials for Young Writers: The BTL program is designed for talented students who show promise to become future literary or media figures in their respective countries and in their own native languages. Candidates must be between the ages of 15 and 18 as of July 10, 2021, proficient in English (reading, writing, and speaking) and able to participate effectively in online intercultural exchange (internet access, microphone, and video capabilities are required). The IWP and ECA will strive for gender, geographic, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. The final selection of participants will be determined by ECA and IWP. In addition to the 40 international students selected, several more will be chosen as alternates.

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. Posts must verify that nominees can participate effectively in small group discussions, partner assignments, and online presentations in large groups. IWP will gladly work with posts to assist in the nomination process.

Application Materials: 

Please submit all application materials to almaty@state.gov. Incomplete applications will not be considered for nomination.  The application due date is March 19, 2021.

  1. International Student Application Form (PDF, 245KB)
  2. Copy of the biographical page of your passport
  3. Original creative prose and/or poetry in English (6-8 pages). Book reports and other academic writing will not be accepted. You may submit one piece or several pieces of creative work to make the 6-8-page requirement.
  4. Prompt #1: Personal statement (3 pages maximum) about how your identity influences you as a creative writer and reader. (More information below)
  5.  Prompt #2: Describe a time when you had to engage with a new situation, person, or idea that initially felt uncomfortable or strange (400 words maximum). (More information below)
  6. Statement of purpose describing why creative writing is important in your life, and what you hope to learn through our BTL program. (250 words maximum).


The following formatting standards are required for all submitted documents. If not followed, applications may not be considered.

Format: Typed (Microsoft Word document preferred but not required)
Font type:  Times New Roman
Font size: 12 point
Spacing:  Double
Margins: 1 inch on all sides
Header: Include your name, name of piece (creative work, Prompt #1, Prompt #2, Statement of Purpose)
Footer: Include page numbers
Citations: If using other people’s words/content, always give them credit


Prompt #1: The 2021 Between the Lines session will include discussion of identity as it relates to creative writing and the life of a writer. Please include your personal response to the following:

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? (3 pages maximum)


Prompt #2: An essential component of Between the Lines is encouraging participants to be vulnerable and explore the unfamiliar and unknown in a safe and supportive setting. At many points, whether in workshop or interpersonally, participants may feel out of their comfort zone. Please respond to the following:

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? (400 words maximum)

More Information: 

Please visit the FAQ page for more information on international student applicants.

Please email almaty@state.gov for any questions regarding this program or its application procedures.