MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE)


MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE) is a virtual program designed to inspire 15- to 19-year-old girls in the United States and the Middle East/North Africa. Participants explore, learn, and share practical approaches to building mental resilience within themselves and their communities.

The program starts February 1, 2022 and ends on March 25, 2022. It 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 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. 

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. 

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 like Nike+ Training Club and Flipgrid. Two live discussions about leadership and emotional resilience featuring speakers such as Bilqis Abdul Qadir, a coach/activist empowering Muslim girls in sports, and Alyson Watson, an entrepreneur developing digital tools to assess mental wellbeing, will provide additional perspectives during your program. 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! 

To sign-up to join the program, click here.

Program Requirements

  • 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 

  • Identify as a girl or young woman; 

  • Be between the ages of 15 to 19 as of August 2, 2021; 

  • Speak English at an intermediate level or higher; 

  • Be available from February 1, 2022 to March 25, 2022. 

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