Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Agency: U.S. Department of State

Program: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State offers full scholarships for American high school students to study abroad on cultural and educational exchange programs. International exchange provides an avenue for students to foster long-lasting ties with people around the globe, promote mutual understanding, develop leadership skills, and enhance educational achievements. Students from private schools and home schools are invited to apply, provided they meet eligibility requirements. Following are some programs for students to consider.

Academic Year Programs

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study Abroad (YES Abroad) Program advances mutual understanding between the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations by sending American students (ages 15-18) to countries with significant Muslim populations for one academic year. Students study in local high schools and live with a host family in countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Balkans.

Students spend an academic year in Germany living with a host family and attending a German school on the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX) for high school students (ages 15-18), graduating seniors of vocational studies (age 18), and young professionals (undergraduates ages 18-24). All students attend a four to eight-week orientation and language camp. Vocational and young professional students study and participate in practical internships.

Language Programs

Students learn a new language on the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), part of a multi-agency U.S. government initiative to improve Americans’ ability to engage with people from around the world who speak Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian and Turkish. They study abroad on summer and academic-year programs where the languages are widely spoken. NSLI-Y students reside with host families while pursuing intensive language study, providing both informal and formal opportunities for language practice with native speakers.

Short-Term Exchange Programs

Students travel abroad for 3-4 weeks to gain firsthand knowledge of foreign cultures and to collaborate on solving global issues through the American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP). Current AYLP programs operate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Malaysia/Singapore, Paraguay, Peru, Samoa, and Uganda. Some programs draw from a national applicant pool while others may be limited to a region or group of States. Also available are reciprocal Youth Leadership Programs that involve hosting an exchange participant as well as travel abroad. Current projects are with Indonesia, Central Europe, Poland, Nepal/Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, and Central/South America.

Additional Program for American Families – Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs invites families in the private school and home school community to explore hosting a foreign student participating in a U.S. government funded international exchange program. When high school exchange students are welcomed into a family and a community, they have an opportunity to develop a view of America that will make a profound difference in who they are and how they relate to and view Americans.

Further Information

For additional information on individual programs, please visit the websites referenced above.

Last Modified: 08/30/2019