Legacy International seeks U.S. student leaders to serve as Cultural Ambassadors / interns in the Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program (SYLEP).

2017 SYLEP participants visit a makerspace – TechShop in Pittsburgh, PA.

Forty-seven university students and recent graduates (43 from Saudi Arabia and 4 from the U.S.) will participate in this leadership training experience. 2020 SYLEP participants will engage in a stimulating series of trainings and experiences while interacting with dozens of American volunteers, program clients, host families, and community leaders. Participants will gain skills in leadership, program design, critical thinking, and community engagement while deepening their respect and appreciation for diversity. They will also observe how individuals, non-governmental organizations, government entities, and businesses address community needs through innovative public, private, and joint initiatives.  Participants are university students who have demonstrated leadership abilities in their schools and communities.

As part of SYLEP, Cultural Ambassadors serve as liaisons, helping their Saudi peers understand how Americans think about their future careers and how to prepare for them, as well as personal civic responsibility. Through a series of trainings, hands-on experience, and contact with dozens of volunteers, clients, host families, and other community members, participants will gain skills in program design, critical thinking, community engagement, and entrepreneurship while deepening their respect for diversity.

Cultural Ambassadors Impressions:

2020 Dates for U.S. Cultural Ambassadors: 

  • June 30 – U.S. Cultural Ambassadors arrive (Washington, DC)
  • July 1 – U.S. Cultural Ambassadors Orientation. Saudi participants arrive (Washington, DC)
  • June 2 – July 6 – Orientation & Leadership Clinic (Washington, DC)
  • July 7 – July 8 – LivingSidebySide® Dialogue & Diversity Retreat (Blacksburg, VA) 
  • July 9 – STEM Education Day (Blacksburg, VA) 
  • July 10 – 18 – Community Immersion (Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Pittsburgh, PA)
  • July 19 – July 21 – Innovation Summit (Washington, DC)
  • July 22 – Departures

Cultural Ambassadors should be:

Cultural Ambassadors serve as peer mentors and friends to the Saudi participants, engaging in a variety of professional and leisure activities.

  • Currently enrolled in a U.S. college or university – rising senior undergraduates or graduates. Recent graduates will also be considered.
  • A citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. Students from outside the U.S. currently studying in the U.S. are not eligible.
  • Committed to leadership and community engagement, and an active participant in a university or local service organization, club or project OR active leadership roles.
  • Available for full dates of the Cultural Ambassador experience – June 30 – July 22. (The program requires full time engagement with some travel; full weekdays and weekends. These dates include orientation before the Saudi students arrive into the U.S.)
  • Interested in and receptive to Middle Eastern cultures.
  • An experienced traveler, with at least one significant cross-cultural learning experience abroad or in the U.S.
  • It is preferable, but not required if the Cultural Ambassadors reside or study in one of the host communities being visited for part of the program: Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI, or Pittsburgh, PA.

What will Cultural Ambassadors do?:

  • Guide the Saudi students’ understanding of how community engagement and volunteerism is viewed and organized in the U.S. through informal conversations and during post event debriefs.
  • Serve as hosts to 10-12 Saudi university students during their 8-day stay in the host community: 1) accompany the group during events (meetings, trainings and service projects); 2) develop and lead some evening social activities; and 3) assist Legacy’s SYLEP staff with some program support tasks.
  • Support Legacy’s staff team to implement SYLEP’s social media strategy (gathering stories, writing copy or blog posts, photographs, etc.)
  • If from the host university and community, the Cultural Ambassador may play a role in helping plan some aspects of the Community Immersion week with Legacy’s partner based in that community.
  • Participate in the “Innovation Summit” where Cultural Ambassadors will: 1) lead a 30 minute “skill building training session” on a topic one has expertise in (for example – effective public speaking, developing a budget, how to recruit volunteers.); 2) serve as an adviser to the Saudis students as they develop their follow-on project plans.
  • Cultural Ambassadors will have the opportunity to apply to go to Saudi Arabia and attend the SYLEP conference to be in the Fall or Winter of 2020. (Tentative, pending Embassy approval and funding. There may be space for just one Cultural Ambassador.)

What will Cultural Ambassadors gain?

  • Enhance one’s insights into Middle Eastern culture, in particular, Saudi Arabia;
  • Engage with emerging leaders from a different culture, while sharing approaches to common problems and gaining insights into new ways to approach one’s own efforts in the U.S.;
  • Gain insights into one’s own leadership style;
  • Develop as a leader with cross-cultural competency;
  • Develop skills in group management, managing group dynamics and training;
  • Gain new perspectives and ideas one may draw upon in their own entrepreneurship efforts.

What expenses will be covered?

As a Cultural Ambassador in SYLEP, Legacy will cover:

  • During the Community Immersion, housing (if needed) & meals (also, as needed);
  • Transportation to and from the host community to Washington, DC;
  • Hotel and meals during the “Leadership Clinic” and “Innovation Summit” in Washington, DC;
  • Program costs directly related to activities organized by Legacy (for example, a group sightseeing tour in DC);
  • Transportation costs associate with participation during the Community Immersion week;
  • Modest stipend provided. (This is in addition to meal, housing and transportation expenses being covered.)


Please send 1) a cover letter, 2) resume, and 3) one letter of support from a faculty adviser or other mentor who is familiar with your leadership activities to: Leila Baz; staff@legacyintl.org

Deadline: April 30, 2020

SYLEP is initiated and supported by the Embassy of the United States in Saudi Arabia.