Under the theme of Transformative Leadership, Community Engagement, and Social Entrepreneurship, the Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program (SYLEP) will promote new levels of civic responsibility and respect for diversity among Saudi university students.

Goals of the Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program:

  • respect for diversity and tolerance of ethnicity, race, religion, gender, geographic location, socio-economic status, and disabilities differences
  • conflict prevention, analysis, and resolution, and
  • community engagement through citizen participation, social responsibility, volunteerism.
SYLEP participants engage in citizen exchange

Participants build life-long friendships with others Saudis and U.S. Cultural Ambassadors.

The 8-month Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program cycle is designed to build skills at every stage. Curriculum and learning activities will focus on four core themes:

1. Transformative Leadership Skills – How effective leadership can be learned and implemented; Skills, capacities, and attributes of successful leaders; models of “transformational leaders” for analysis and application.

2. Leading Successful Community Initiatives – Essential project management skills; Aligning partners and the community behind your vision; Measuring impact

3. Dialogue and Diversity Skills – Social inclusiveness and interreligious understanding; Conflict management and resolution; Convening community dialogues ; difficult issues

4. Social Entrepreneurship and Volunteerism – Creating innovative solutions to community problems; implementing design thinking processes and tools to drive innovation, transitioning through the phases of inspiration, ideation and implementation; exploration of relevant social issues in the U.S.

Program Design

Orientation & Leadership Clinic 

Led by Legacy’s trainers and distinguished guest presenters, the “leadership clinic” will utilize interactive, experience-based learning methods, establishing meaningful ways for each participant to explore concepts related to transformative leadership, community engagement, and social entrepreneurship. 

  • Their own vision, passions and commitments;
  • What is social entrepreneurship?;
  • Personal “branding”;
  • The attributes, skills and tasks involved in effective leadership;
  • The nature of youth leadership in the Saudi context;
  • Basic understanding of the elements needed to plan and execute a self-designed leadership project.

Panel discussions with young professionals and innovators in government, education, and NGOs sectors will enable participants to think about what inspires them and how they view leadership.  Presentations from social media experts will address how to use a range of new technologies to support and enhance their efforts.  Other trainings will develop creative and critical thinking and encourage participants to see themselves as change agents.

In addition, four U.S. university students will serve as Cultural Ambassadors during this three week program.

LivingSidebySide® Dialogue & Diversity Retreat

The group will travel to Sweet Briar, VA for a retreat in the development of dialogue and diversity skills. For two days the group will engage in facilitated workshops. Legacy’s methodology supports a wide range of social/emotional learning factors in a unified fashion to build character, provide tools for preventing and resolving conflict, diffuse difficult behaviors, promote inclusivity, and promote civic engagement. 

University & Community Immersion

SYLEP participants meet a variety of professionals in a wide range of fields during site visits to discuss community engagement.

Saudi participants, along with the U.S. Cultural Ambassadors, will divide into three subgroups and visit different cities of the United States (Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; and Pittsburgh, PA).  They will spend a weekend living with host families to gain more insights into American daily life. Participants will visit a variety of community based organizations exploring a wide range of topics. In addition, each group will participate in service projects and see how the private / for profit sector partners with the non-profit sector to address issues in communities.

Leadership Summit

For the final week in the U.S., participants will return to Washington, DC, to focus on the practical application of what they have observed.  Facilitated sessions on project planning, teamwork, budgeting, and partnership-building will guide Saudi youths through the development of their project ideas. U.S. Cultural Ambassadors will continue to participate and serve as resources, presenters, and discussion partners for thinking through action steps, strategies for trouble-shooting, and techniques for team-building and motivating one another.  Project plans will be presented to their peers for feedback and refinement.

Practical Application & Follow-up

Once back in Saudi Arabia, participants will continue to refine and implement personally designed follow-on projects, supported by Legacy. (Participants will be eligible to receive a mini-grant to support their projects.) Through online forums, conferences or webinars, participants will be able to connect, share ideas, successes and challenges, and receive support from mentors and experts.  Facebook, blogs or similar platforms will provide less formal venues for connecting alumni, to share their project experiences. 

2017 SYLEP participants volunteered at an organic farm in Blacksburg, VA.