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Program description

The Global Ties U.S.Ā MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE)Ā brings togetherĀ young women andĀ girls ages 15-19 from the United States andĀ Middle East/North Africa (MENA)Ā region in a supportive virtual space to develop emotional resilience skills. Participants discuss and experiment with a variety of stress-relief and coping techniques while guided by trained facilitators, engaging in both synchronous (live) and asynchronous exchange.

WhatĀ will participants do duringĀ MERGE?

MERGE is an eightĀ (8)Ā weekĀ virtual exchange program inĀ whichĀ youā€™llĀ learn about mental health, focusing onĀ yourĀ own emotional resilience,Ā and empowering your community.Ā Youā€™ll spend yourĀ first week building a supportive global community through cultural exchange activities. The next five weeksĀ will exploreĀ practical approaches to strengthening emotional resilience.Ā Youā€™ll be part of aĀ 20-person section ā€” 10Ā young womenĀ from the United States and 10 from the MENA region ā€” and you willĀ support eachĀ otherĀ inĀ implementingĀ these strategies inĀ your own lives.

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Your facilitator will guide you throughout the program, providing resources and moderating discussions. Youā€™ll interact with other young women through writing and video, and explore apps such as Flipgrid. Two live discussions about leadership and emotional resilience will provide additional perspectives during your program.Ā Prior featured speakersĀ includeĀ Bilqis Abdul Qadir, aĀ coach/activist empowering Muslim girlsĀ in sports, and Alyson Watson, an entrepreneur developing digital tools to assess mental wellbeing.Ā Ā In MERGEā€™S final two weeks, your five-person team will create an entry for MERGEā€™s digital resilience strategies website to share with your community and the world!

What do I get from completing the program?

By participating inĀ MERGE, you will receive aĀ Certificate of CompletionĀ in leadership andĀ mental health awareness, access to the U.S. Department of Stateā€™s International Exchange Alumni network,Ā andĀ eligibility forĀ unique project funding opportunitiesĀ ofĀ up $1,000Ā from the Stevens Initiative Alumni Small Grants program.

When will MERGE take place?

MERGE runs for eight (8) weeks. The second cohort startsĀ September 26,Ā 2022Ā and ends onĀ NovemberĀ 18, 2022. The program will require three (3) hours of time each week, generally carried out on your own schedule. You can choose when to complete most activities during the week they become available. You will also join a scheduled video call with your MERGE section at least three times during the program, the timing of which will be determined in advance.

Who should apply?

MERGEĀ participantsĀ must:

  • Reside in the UnitedĀ StatesĀ or a MENAĀ region countryĀ (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman,Ā Palestinian Territories,Ā Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates,Ā or Yemen);
  • Identify as aĀ girl or young woman;
  • Be between the ages of 15 to 19 as of September 26, 2022;
  • Speak English at anĀ intermediateĀ level or higher;
  • Be available during theĀ program dates listedĀ above;
  • HaveĀ access to aĀ reliable,Ā internet-connected device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.)Ā that can be utilized forĀ at least three (3) hours a week forĀ the duration of the program;
  • HaveĀ an interestĀ inĀ mental health,Ā community building, andĀ international exchange.


Please contactĀ the MERGE Program TeamĀ atĀ exchanges@globaltiesus.orgĀ for any questions.

Applications close on Friday, September 16, 2022. Ready to apply? Click below!


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