The Global Ties U.S. MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE) brings together young women and girls ages 15-19 from the United States and Middle East/North Africa (MENA) 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.
What will participants do during MERGE?
MERGE is an eight (8) week virtual exchange program in which you’ll learn about mental health, focusing on your own emotional resilience, and empowering your community. You’ll spend your first week building a supportive global community through cultural exchange activities. The next five weeks will explore practical approaches to strengthening emotional resilience. You’ll be part of a 20-person section — 10 young women from the United States and 10 from the MENA region — and you will support each other in implementing these strategies in your own lives.
Your facilitator will guide you throughout the program, providing resources and moderating discussions. You’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. Prior featured speakers include Bilqis Abdul Qadir, a coach/activist empowering Muslim girls in sports, and Alyson Watson, an entrepreneur developing digital tools to assess mental wellbeing. In MERGE’S final two weeks, your five-person team will create an entry for MERGE’s digital resilience strategies website to share with your community and the world!
What do I get from completing the program?
By participating in MERGE, you will receive a Certificate of Completion in leadership and mental health awareness, access to the U.S. Department of State’s International Exchange Alumni network, and eligibility for unique project funding opportunities of up $1,000 from the Stevens Initiative Alumni Small Grants program.
When will MERGE take place?
MERGE Cohort IV runs for eight (8) weeks in Spring 2023. The fourth cohort starts on February 3, 2022 and ends on April 7, 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?
MERGE participants must:
- Reside in the United States or a MENA region country (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, or Yemen);
- Identify as a girl or young woman;
- Be between the ages of 15 to 19 as of February 3, 2022;
- Speak English at an intermediate level or higher;
- Be available during the program dates listed above;
- Have access to a reliable, internet-connected device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.) that can be utilized for at least three (3) hours a week for the duration of the program;
- Have an interest in mental health, community building, and international exchange.
Please contact the MERGE Program Team at email@example.com for any questions.
The deadline for MERGE Participant applications is on January 27, 2022. Ready to apply? Click below!
The MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE), implemented by Global Ties U.S., is supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.