Healthy Lifestyles, Strong Communities 

Summer 2019  – United States & Saudi Arabia – Following successful 2014 – 2018 Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Programs (SYLEP), Legacy International is pleased to welcome a new delegation of Saudi young leaders to the U.S. from June 26 – July 17, 2019.

2016 SYLEP participants, cultural ambassadors and staff enjoy the view at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

SYLEP is a multi-phased leadership experience for 32 Saudi university students or recently-graduated  students between the ages of 21-26 and 3 U.S. Cultural Ambassadors (upcoming seniors in undergrad, or graduate students and recent graduates). SYLEP 2019 seeks to build leadership skills, civic responsibility, appreciation for cultural diversity, community engagement, and volunteerism with a theme of building healthy lifestyles and strong communities. Phase 1 is a 3-week U.S. program. Phase 2 involves implementing learning through an innovative community action project designed while in the United States.

The goals of this program are to promote mutual understanding between the people of the U.S and the people of Saudi Arabia, prepare young leaders to become responsible citizens and contributing members of their communities, and develop leadership skills among Saudi youth. They will observe how individuals, non-governmental organizations, and government entities address community needs through public, private, and joint initiatives.

Through a series of meetings, site visits, trainings, expert sessions, volunteer opportunities, and participation events with agencies, organizations, and individual professional working in this field, Legacy International will introduce participants to innovative local, state, federal, public, and private programs that promote healthy lifestyles and strong communities. We aim to expose participants to individual, volunteer led initiatives (like meetups and patient groups) as well as larger scale government and corporate solutions to promoting healthy lifestyles and communities. In addition, Saudi participants will join in healthy-lifestyle activities (such as exercise classes, nutrition education, and sports teams) side by side with U.S. community members. In this way, participants won’t only learn about solutions but will get the opportunity to practice a healthy lifestyle during the program.

Upon their return home, they conduct follow-on projects in their home communities or university campuses, supported by Legacy International.


2018 SYLEP participants and Cultural Ambassador in Austin, TX

A key component of Saudi Vision 2030 is to develop “the happiness and fulfillment of citizens and residents… through promoting physical, psychological, and social well-being.  At the heart of our Vision is a society in which all enjoy a good quality of life, a healthy lifestyle and attractive living environment.” The main indicator to measure success in accomplishing this goal is “To increase the ratio of individuals exercising at least once a week from 13% of population to 40%.”

In the United States obesity is reaching epidemic levels. More than half of all adults living in DC, for example, are overweight or obese; rates climb to 72% in the District’s Wards East of the River (Wards 7 and 8).  Racial disparities with regards to obesity in the District are extreme.  Less than one in every ten White residents for the District are obese, whereas one in every three African Americans are obese.  Strategies that address access to eat healthy foods and opportunities to be physically active are critical to prevention and management of obesity and chronic disease.

Building on the long-standing themes of SYLEP – leadership, tolerance, diversity, and strengthening communities – SYLEP 2019 will prepare participants to make themselves, their families, their friends, and their communities stronger by helping to create a healthy and active society.

Program Details

2017 SYLEP participants meet professionals in a wide variety of fields at a networking event.

2019 Program Dates 

  • June 25 – U.S. Cultural Ambassadors arrive (Washington, DC)
  • June 26 – U.S. Cultural Ambassadors Orientation. Saudi participants arrive (Washington, DC)
  • June 27 – July 4 – Orientation & Leadership Clinic (Washington, DC)
  • July 5 – July 13 – Community Immersion (Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA)
  • July 14 – July 16 – Innovation Summit (Washington, DC)
  • July 17 – Departures

2019 Partners

Ways to Participate:

  • U.S. university students who are currently enrolled in a college or university (upcoming senior undergrads, or graduate students) or recent graduates may apply as U.S. Cultural Ambassador.
  • U.S. families who live in one of the three host communities may serve as home stay hosts for our Saudi guests (July 5-6;  2 nights)
  • Saudi university students, ages 21-26, who are citizens and currently residing and studying in Saudi Arabia are eligible. Students with significant prior U.S. experience (ex. study abroad), are U.S. citizens or hold U.S. Permanent Residency status are not eligible.  Applicants should possess sufficient English to participate in U.S. university-level classes.  Questions?  Email For more information, also visit Legacy’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Blog Posts

SYLEP is sponsored by the United States Department of State, U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, and administered by Legacy International.