Youth Leadership Development

Meridian International Center is one of the leading U.S. organizations in developing and implementing programs for high school and college age youth. Youth programs are organized on a variety of themes, including—but not limited to—community engagement, youth-led advocacy, youth leadership, conflict resolution and cross-cultural dialogue. For the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), Meridian has recruited, interviewed, and selected more than 150 youth program participants from Iraq in its three years of implementing the program. Similarly, the Youth Leadership Program with Central Europe accepted over 150 youth and adult participants from Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia to travel to the United States and participate in the leadership program for three consecutive programs between 2011 and 2013. Meridian was also able to recruit American high school students to take part in a reciprocal exchange in Serbia and Hungary. For the 16th consecutive year, Meridian implemented the U.S. Congress – Korean National Assembly Exchange Program, an innovative and engaging two-way exchange that offers American and Korean participants an opportunity to promote cultural awareness and a first-hand perspective of each other’s country’s political and legislative system.

Meridian handles a wide range of both programmatic and logistical activities for youth programs. We collect all necessary release forms, including behavioral expectations agreements as well as media and medical release forms; arrange domestic and international travel logistics; develop and conduct pre-departure orientations for youth and their parents; and serve as points of contact for parents while their children are abroad. We have the ability to tap our extensive network of community contacts to arrange home stays with American families in more than 100 U.S. cities and in other countries through local partners. Host families are screened and vetted by Meridian.

Meridian staff also maintains relationships with youth participants following their exchange programs and are available to mentor them as they develop and implement youth-led plans for social change. Meridian also offers grants to youth participants who start programs designed to create positive change in their communities. We can also offer training for adults who work with youth and wish to build their capacity to influence young minds.