Afghan Young Leaders Exchange Program 2020

Program Overview:


Thank you for your interest in the 2020 Afghan Young Leaders Exchange Program. Funded by the U.S. Embassy Kabul and implemented by Meridian International Center, AYLEP is designed to provide 50 talented, hard-working, and highly motivated young Afghan women leaders with an opportunity to spend three weeks in the United States for an intensive leadership training and development program in the summer of 2020. All selected participants must be U.S. Embassy Kabul scholarship program recipients at American University of Central Asia, American University of Afghanistan, American University of Beirut, or Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. The program consists of a short orientation conference in the U.S., followed by a two-week community leadership program held in one of four U.S. cities, and ending with a closing forum in Washington, DC. This year’s AYLEP will focus on the following skills:

  • Leadership Development
  • Communication & Negotiation Skills
  • Peacebuilding & Conflict Resolution
  • Community Activism

During the program, you will receive training to develop practical leadership skills and learn about American society and civic engagement. In addition, there will be site visits to community organizations, universities, NGOs, private organizations, or government offices and weekly volunteer opportunities. Cultural activities will be scheduled, so you can spend time getting to know some Americans as well as your fellow Afghan peers. You should know that this is NOT a vacation trip to the United States, and that days will be quite long and demanding. However, we are sure that committed participants will find the leadership training engaging and will find plenty of opportunities for fun along the way!

apply today!

How to Apply:

  1. Click the button above to be taken to the online application form.
  2. Create a username and password to login to your application. You may save your application and return to complete it during the application window using your login.
  3. Follow all application instructions.
  4. Upload all required documents, answer all questions, certify that your form is accurate, and click submit when you are finished.

Eligibility Requirements:

Applicants must meet ALL the following criteria to be eligible for the program:

  • Be a citizen and current resident of Afghanistan (Applicants with dual U.S. citizenship will not be considered)
  • Be a current recipient or an alumna of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), American University of Beirut (AUB), and Al Akhawayn University (AUI) Scholarship Program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy Kabul
  • Be an alumna of American University Central Asia (AUCA) Scholarship Program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy Kabul
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 30 by the time of the program in summer, 2020
  • Have an Afghan passport valid through January, 2021
  • Be proficient in the English language enough to actively participate in a college-level leadership training program
  • Be in good academic standing at AUCA, AUAF, AUB, or AUI

Students who can answer YES to any of the following questions are NOT eligible to apply:

  • Applicant is male
  • Applicant is a current student at American University Central Asia (AUCA)
  • Applicant has applied for permanent residency or refugee status in the United States; and
  • Applicant has immediate family members who are employees or contractors of the U.S. embassy or any U.S. government agency

What is included?

There is no application fee for applicants.  The United States Government, in conjunction with its private partners, will pay for international transportation to and from the United States, orientations, program and visa fees and administration, site visits and seminars, lodging and meals, cultural activities, educational materials, accident and sickness insurance, and a modest amount of pocket money. Participants will reside in carefully chosen hotel accommodations in their host cities. Participants are responsible for expenses related to the application process (copying, mailing, photographs, interview travel, etc.), passport fees, and spending money for souvenirs and other items in the United States.

Overview of Selection Process:

The Meridian AYLEP team, in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, has worked hard to advertise this program to its scholarship program recipients and alumnae at AUCA, AUAF, AUB, and AUI. It is our strong belief that a talented diverse pool of students will make for the best possible program, and it is our commitment to recruit students’ representative of all different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

We wish to be clear that selection for the AYLEP program will be done through an open and fair competition. In order to ensure that absolutely no bias or special preference is given to any student based on background, political affiliation, or family connections, applications will be reviewed by a team of reviewers in the United States. Applications will be reviewed on the following criteria:

  • Completeness of application in English, including copy of passport and proof of university enrollment or graduation at AUAF, AUCA, AUB, AUI through the U.S. Embassy Kabul scholarship program
  • Applicant's demonstrated leadership potential and interest in developing leadership skills
  • Commitment to implement projects that benefit the applicant’s school and/or community after they return home
  • Strong academic record
  • Written English proficiency

Highest ranking students will be notified in mid-January 2020 and be invited to an in-person interview.  You will be interviewed by a panel that will rate you on the following criteria:

  • Oral English proficiency
  • Good social and communication skills
  • An energetic, positive attitude
  • Ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and tolerate the opinions of others
  • Commitment to benefit your local community and/or university in Afghanistan

The U.S. Embassy will then select the program finalists based on the best average scores of the written application and interview. Please understand: simply meeting all program criteria does NOT guarantee you a spot in the program, and all decisions by the review team are FINAL.  Requests for reconsideration will not be possible. Unfortunately, due to the anticipated demand of this program, we know some very talented individuals will not be chosen to participate this year, but they are encouraged to reapply in future years, and look for other leadership training opportunities in Afghanistan and abroad.

Program Timeline

Application open: November 1, 2019

Application due: December 31, 2019 (by 11:59 PM) extended to January 2, 2020 (by 11:59pm AST) (*updated 12/31/2019)

Applications reviewed: December, 2019 - January, 2020

Semi-finalists selected for in-person interviews: mid-January 2020

Finalists selected and notified: February 2020

Visa interviews in Kabul: March 2020

Anticipated program dates: August 2020 (*updated 12/17/2019)


For Frequently Asked Questions, please click here.

For additional questions, please email us at

You may also learn more about AYLEP at