STEAM Training Addresses Key Challenges for Teachers in Egypt

This summer, the Best Practices in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) for Egyptian Teachers program, or BP-STEAM, trained 67 teachers in Upper Egypt on a wide range of essential pedagogical skills and strategies. Sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, BP-STEAM’s ultimate goal is to prepare students to become skilled problem-solvers, readying them for the workforce and thereby supporting Egypt’s Vision 2030.

BP-STEAM is a five-day long, seven-hour per day intensive training course that covers a wide range of critical pedagogical topics. These topics included lesson planning, Universal Design for Learning, learner-centered teaching, experiential learning, reflective practice, inductive learning, recycling of information, and asking for and responding to feedback.

Three iterations were conducted in the Luxor, Minya, and Qena governorates during July and August, serving 67 teachers total. “The whole training program is really beneficial and informative,” said a participant from the Minya training. “Wonderful trainers, useful content and relevant practices.”

Experiential learning is a key component of all World Learning programs. In BP-STEAM, this meant that not only were participants actively engaged and practicing their newly learned skills during the training, but they also had the opportunity to put their learning to the test with eight hours of practicum with real students from the hosting schools.

“I loved my experience and endless support from my instructors, Ms. Amira and Ms. Dalia,” said a program participant from the Luxor training. “They are very helpful and knowledgeable. They enriched our teaching skills. BP-STEAM was a great opportunity for me.”

The program practiced what it taught, with an uncompromising commitment to fostering a learner-centered, supportive, and reflective educational experience. That commitment paid off, with 100 percent of alumni surveyed reporting that they would recommend BP-STEAM to a colleague.

After the three iterations completed, over thirty alumni joined four American STEM teachers for a Virtual Exchange Forum to reflect on learning, share advice, and connect over their passion for STEAM education. Moderated by Dr. Katey Shirey, the Forum discussed innovative teaching strategies used by American teachers before opening to multiple breakout discussions on the skills developed during BP-STEAM. The American STEM teachers also joined the BP-STEAM participants’ group on Facebook, connecting them further after the webinar ended.

The program has already been passed on from participants to their colleagues. World Learning received several reports of alumni organizing informal workshops to share their new knowledge with their fellow teachers at their schools. One participant even created a video on Universal Design for Learning based on what he learned in the course.

“[BP-STEAM] was really helpful. It changed my mindset about the new educational system in Egypt,” said a participant from the Qena training. “STEAM is the future of any country which needs to cope with the challenges we face every day. The future belongs to those who believe that traditional education doesn’t fit anymore. The BP-STEAM [approach] will be the approach that all need to apply in the future.”

How a New Partnership is Advancing Inclusive STEM Education in Egypt

A student smiles in front of a sign that reads 'Launch Egypt' in blue on the Launch Egypt campus in Cairo, Egypt

Though the course was facilitated online the students gathered together at the Launch Egypt campus for each session.

While Egypt’s Social Solidarity Ministry estimates that nearly one in every 160 children in the country shows signs of autism, autistic children and young people remain marginalized within Egypt’s education system. Autistic young people are often excluded from traditional schools and may not receive basic education, let alone more advanced subject-matter training or opportunities for workforce preparation.

To bridge this gap, in the fall of 2020 STEM Hub Egypt partnered with Launch Egypt to offer online STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) training specifically for autistic young adults. The STEM Hub Egypt is a learning center that was established by World Learning and Boeing to equip Egypt’s youth with skills in STEM fields and the confidence to lead the next era of innovation. Launch Egypt is a Cairo-based organization working to help children and youth of all needs reach their full potential.

The STEM Hub quickly adapted its content for Launch Egypt’s students and carried out two sessions on coding and programming between September and November 2020 and a third session on electronics in January 2021, with six students participating in total. Though this was the first partnership between STEM Hub Egypt and Launch Egypt, inclusive approaches to education have long informed the STEM Hub’s work.

“Inclusion is one of World Learning’s and STEM Hub Egypt’s work ethics and goals,” says STEM Hub Director Yasmine El Bendary.

The STEM learning group poses at Launch Egypt's center in Cairo, Egypt.
The STEM learning group poses at Launch Egypt’s center in Cairo, Egypt.

STEM Hub Egypt was able to harness World Learning’s global expertise in inclusive education in preparing the sessions, with World Learning Senior Education and Research Specialist Deepa Srikantaiah conducting a professional development workshop for the STEM Hub facilitators ahead of the content creation process. The workshop covered how to tailor the trainings to the needs of different learners and respond to those needs during implementation. Srikantaiah also introduced the principles of Universal Design for Learning, a research-based framework that regards all students as unique learners, and provided guidance on implementing Universal Design for Learning within the course.

In turn, the team of facilitators reimagined the program content—dividing the content into simplified components; infusing more teamwork and soft skill activities to build rapport and trust; and structuring the program to take place over a longer timeframe with shorter sessions to accommodate concentration challenges. This customization didn’t stop once the sessions began. Rana Elsemary, one of the facilitators engaged in training the Launch Egypt students, says that she challenged herself to continually adapt the course during and after each class—trying different facilitation methods with each student, assessing whether they were effective, and then repeating the cycle again to ensure all students understood the concepts and were getting the information in ways that worked for them.

“It was an amazing experience for me because I found that [the students] are very smart and very intelligent—they just need to be given a chance,” says Elsemary.

Elsemary, whose parents were teachers, emphasizes that being a facilitator is not about being someone with higher authority—it’s about supporting the students and validating them as they solve the problems themselves. She adds that the students’ excitement and appreciation of having this opportunity made this facilitation experience singularly meaningful for her.

A student plays a game on a computer
The STEM Hub facilitators utilized games and other dynamic online activities to help students understand the material.

As a result of this course, these young people have had the chance to explore and identify their interests in programming and electronics and have gained skills that can be utilized in the job market within Egypt and beyond.

“Discovering the STEM Hub has definitely added to us at Launch Egypt. The STEM Hub has given us the opportunity to widen our young adults’ scope of interests,” says Manal Dorgham, the academic coordinator for Launch Egypt. “Seeing our young adults engaged and excited has given us the motivation to work more on their vocational skills. It proved that they are capable of doing whatever they set their minds to. From the very beginning, I’ve seen nothing but extreme measures of organization, helpfulness, and support.”

Today, the STEM Hub is continuing its learning journey with the group by introducing more advanced topics: Arduino, an electronic prototyping platform, and graphic design. Though, Elsemary says it’s not just the students that have learned from the experience.

“I discovered I’m not just facilitating—I’m learning. These students just teach me a lot of things about myself and the concepts…they let me wonder about new questions,” says Elsemary.

Elsemary says they have helped her realize it’s okay not to have all the answers—that she can admit when she doesn’t understand something and say they’ll figure it out together. Everyone learns differently.

Editor’s Note: This piece uses identity-first language (‘autistic individual’ vs. ‘individual with autism’) as recommended by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, an organization run by and for autistic people with the goal of promoting equal access, rights, and opportunities.

Egypt STEM Hub Facilitator Part of Team Awarded National Science and Technology Prize

Bassam Fotouh (right) teaches students at The STEM Hub Egypt.

The STEM Hub Egypt is a learning center equipping the country’s young scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to lead the North African country into a new era of technical innovation.

It’s a project of World Learning, focused on exploration and discovery in what’s known as STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

One of the center’s workshop facilitators and content creators, Bassam Fotouh, is part of a team of university students who spent almost a year envisioning various scenarios for Egypt in the year 2050.

This summer, they won first place in a national competition organized by Shell called Imagine the Future and made it to the finals for the global prize, which will be announced August 11.

“It was challenging and fun applying the knowledge we have trying to come up with scenarios to predict the future of an Egyptian city,” he says.

Fotouh (center) helps students with a project at The STEM Hub.

Fotouh, who is a rising senior, finishing a bachelor’s of science degree in nanomedicine and machine learning from the University of Science and Technology at Zewail City, was invited to join the team by classmate Amira Khalil, who is studying biomedical sciences. The rest of the team included Bassel Jamel, Anas Mustafa, and Mazen Moataz, who are also studying biomedical sciences; Ahmed Hasaballah, an aerospace engineering student; and Eyad Al-Enani, an environmental engineering major.

Fotouh says despite his busy schedule at university and the STEM Hub, he immediately jumped at the chance to join the team and enjoyed working collaboratively with students in other disciplines.

Competing against dozens of other teams around the country, including several at his university, ZU12, as Fotouh’s team was called, imagined what the southern Nile city Aswan would be like in the year 2050.

The team presented two scenarios for utilizing several technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), in Aswan.

Fotouh is excited that his team won first place in the national competition and says he cherishes the friends he made and the memories they have traveling together while working on the project.

“That was the real win,” he says.

Beyond that, Fotouh points out that the competition put Egypt on the map for its vision of the role of future energy technologies and their impact on local and regional communities.

Students show off the certificates they received for participating in The STEM Hub camp.

Fotouh, who is a rising senior, finishing a bachelor’s of science degree in nanomedicine and machine learning from the University of Science and Technology at Zewail City, was invited to join the team by classmate Amira Khalil, who is studying biomedical sciences. The rest of the team included Bassel Jamel, Anas Mustafa, and Mazen Moataz, who are also studying biomedical sciences; Ahmed Hasaballah, an aerospace engineering student; and Eyad Al-Enani, an environmental engineering major.

Fotouh says despite his busy schedule at university and the STEM Hub, he immediately jumped at the chance to join the team and enjoyed working collaboratively with students in other disciplines.

Competing against dozens of other teams around the country, including several at his university, ZU12, as Fotouh’s team was called, imagined what the southern Nile city Aswan would be like in the year 2050.

The team presented two scenarios for utilizing several technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), in Aswan.

Fotouh is excited that his team won first place in the national competition and says he cherishes the friends he made and the memories they have traveling together while working on the project.

“That was the real win,” he says.

Beyond that, Fotouh points out that the competition put Egypt on the map for its vision of the role of future energy technologies and their impact on local and regional communities.

The STEM Hub offers programs specially designed to allow young participants, age 8–16, explore, apply, and innovate through hands-on activities and a project-based learning approach.

STEM Hub Director Yasmine El Bendary says: “The STEM Hub Egypt’s mission is to create an inclusive learning environment where young people can combine their natural creativity and their new STEM skills to create innovative solutions for local problems and global challenges.”

Courses include robotics, coding and programming, environmental recycling, energy management, business and entrepreneurship, and graphic design and multimedia.

Fotouh, who is from Suez, a seaport city in north eastern Egypt, is co-leading the coding and programming courses, which he developed.

Fotouh says there are many things he loves about working at STEM Hub, such as the way peer instructors learn new things from each other and the opportunity to work closely with the kids, especially teaching and interacting with them and observing the result of their efforts and the new learning they’ve stimulated.

“I love communicating about the sciences,” Fotouh says.

The STEM Hub offers programs designed to allow participants to explore, apply, and innovate through hands-on activities and our project-based learning approach. The Center’s learning methodology seeks to improve the process of knowledge acquisition while leveraging the skills, talents, and leadership potential of Egyptian youth.

In each of the courses, students are encouraged to work on a team project that they come up with.

“We give students the freedom to choose whatever ideas they want to work on,” says Fotouh.

Students work on a project during the STEM Hub camp.

“They never fail to amaze us,” he says.

Due to the pandemic, students have been working remotely on projects about COVID-19, raising awareness about global citizenship, and fighting against racism. Others are working on improving mental health, education, communication, and entertainment through games.

Fotouh says the process of building their projects is filled with trial and error — explaining “that’s how the learning happens.” They propose their own solutions, “that way they learn to solve problems,” he says.

El Bendary agrees. “We’re proud to support our participants as they discover their interests and develop their boundless potential.”

“We’ve succeeded in changing the way students think about education while also introducing them to STEM and project-based learning,” Fotouh says, adding that they learn to use their creativity to solve real-world problems.

“That’s the success.”

Fotouh also works as an undergraduate research assistant at the Center for Materials Science, NBE Institute for Nanoscience and Informatics.

In 2017, he was chosen as Ain Shams University’s representative at the Science Operation Leaders in Egypt (SOLE) Conference & Competition. Last year, he developed his own play in the field of medicine called King Tutankhamun’s Burial Chamber, which was presented at the Zewail City Science Festival

He’s currently studying for the GREs and hopes to be accepted to a PhD program in the U.S. or Canada.

Students collaborate during the STEM Hub camp.

Fotouh’s first choice is the Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) program offered by the inter-institutional collaboration between MIT and Harvard in health sciences and technology because of his passion for interdisciplinary studies that combine engineering and medicine. He also wants to be part of a community that shares his interests and supports and pushes him to exceed his limits.

The program is for engineers and scientists who want to impact patient care by developing innovations to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.

Fotouh says that science is the ultimate tool that expands people’s horizons and empowers them with different perspectives to solve the problems.

He adds that it’s a team effort: “I’ve been lucky to have a good education and I’m a skilled communicator and presenter. That gave me the idea of communicating science for the public to participate and use this knowledge along with their creativity to make our world a better place, free of poverty, diseases, and conflicts.”

Breaking Down Barriers to Employment for People with Disabilities

IVLP participants during their visit to the Accessibility Lab at Oath, a Verizon company.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, nine professionals from the Middle East and North Africa experienced what inclusion of people with disabilities means in a state known for outdoor adventure. During their stay, they visited a rock climbing gym that offers adaptive equipment like harnesses and hand grips and climbing partners. The gym is not a separate facility just for people with disabilities but a place that brings a community of people of all abilities together.

These professionals were in the U.S. for three weeks as participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), an exchange program that brings professionals from a variety of fields to the U.S. to cultivate relationships and share experiences and expertise. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by World Learning, this program focused on disability rights. The group saw how the Americans with Disabilities Act has created accessible spaces since it was enacted 28 years ago. They also learned about the progress that still needs to be made to break down barriers people with disabilities face in finding employment.

An IVLP participant tries out the rock climbing wall at the National Ability Center.

Facilities like the rock climbing gym can make a difference. Mohamed Elbadry, one of the IVLP participants, is a disability rights activist and athlete in Egypt. He sees sports as a way to express himself and increase his confidence. His participation in sports ­has also helped change others’ perceptions of what people with disabilities are capable of doing.

Changing these perceptions is key to increasing employment among people with disabilities. This October, the United States celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an effort led by the U.S. Department of Labor to raise awareness of the employment needs — and the capabilities — of people with all types of disabilities. Everyone can contribute their unique talents and skills to a job if given the opportunity.

During the IVLP experience, Elbadry and his colleagues learned many ways to address this worldwide employment gap between people with and without disabilities.

Education is an important place to start. The group visited different schools and universities to observe the support and accommodations they provide students with disabilities. Group members were particularly impressed with The College Experience, a program through which students with disabilities live independently on a college campus in Albany, New York. A partnership between the nonprofit Living Resources and the College of Saint Rose, the program helps youth with developmental disabilities take classes and transition to the workforce. The program showed the group what meaningful employment is possible when people with disabilities are given accommodations and assistive technology.

For Elbadry, the program provided a helpful example of how organizations can build bridges between the disability community and employers, which in turn helps employers understand why they should hire people with disabilities. He hopes to apply what he learned from this IVLP experience when he returns to Egypt. “I see that we need a center in each field of work or in each region that can help those who need training,” he says. “Every state [in Egypt] should have a team responsible for connecting with organizations and companies to ensure the employment of people with disabilities.”

IVLP participants practice beep baseball.

Hafid Babazahou, another IVLP participant, is president of an association of people with disabilities in Morocco. He learned from these meetings the importance of data collection. People with disabilities have been found to have higher attendance and a lower turnover rate on average than people without disabilities. Sharing this information and specifics about low-cost accommodations and assistive technology support can show potential employers why it makes good business sense to hire people with disabilities. Employment data can also demonstrate how to create jobs that play to the skills and strengths of people with disabilities. When employers understand facts about working with people with disabilities, it is possible to shift their attitudes and open doors to create a more diverse workforce.

Professional exchanges like the IVLP can spark new ideas and build connections that advance international disability rights. These meetings across the U.S. motivated participants to continue their advocacy for disability rights upon returning home.

These exchanges also remind the U.S.-based hosts, interpreters, and program administrators of the progress we have made over the years and what more needs to be done to change attitudes toward people with disabilities. By working together and sharing our best ideas, we can bridge the employment gap in communities and countries across the world.

— Amy Reid, Program Officer

As NDEAM draws to a close, this is a time of reflection for individuals and organizations across the world. Consider: How are you fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce? Are people with visible disabilities recruited, hired, mentored, and advanced? If you need ideas for increasing disability inclusion in your organization, check out the Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month resources. Put up a poster, arrange for a disability education program, and advertise employment opportunities with your local Center for Independent Living or Rehabilitation Services Program. For international recruitment, advertise with Mobility International USA.

New Projects Celebrate Cultural Heritage Through Exchanges

World Learning and the U.S. Department of State are pleased to announce the selection of six new cultural heritage projects to receive funding as part of its Communities Connecting HeritageSM exchange program (CCH). CCH, a State Department initiative administered by World Learning, empowers youth to protect the cultural heritage of at-risk communities around the world.

“World Learning is thrilled to support projects that celebrate diversity and foster mutual understanding through Communities Connecting Heritage,” said Lisa Posner, World Learning’s vice president for Global Exchange. “This program will also help build new global bonds to improve overall cooperation and collaboration between the US and communities in key areas of the world.”

Through virtual and in-person exchanges and exhibitions, the program supports new partnerships between U.S. and foreign cultural organizations and the communities they serve. CCH specifically helps these communities preserve their tangible and intangible cultural heritage, reinforce positive messages, and advance cultural heritage through community outreach and public education.

The projects will be carried out among six U.S. organizations from four U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and six international organizations from five countries. Each organization was matched with an overseas counterpart during initial training and has been collaborating to develop engaging cultural heritage projects. The following six projects were just selected for funding in 2017:

  • The Creative Economy Group (Serbia) and Global Ties Akron (Ohio)
    Global Threads will train up to 20 university students as citizen journalists to capture the stories of artists in their communities and use that content to launch an online publication and Food/Art Expos in both countries.
  • The Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (BOZAR; Belgium) and Gallaudet University (Washington, D.C.)
    Connecting Capitals will connect to empower up to 20 Deaf youth from the U.S. and Belgium, advocating for them to become more engaged citizens through a deeper understanding of their respective Deaf heritages.
  • Cultural Heritage without Borders (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Cultural Heritage Alliance (Maryland)
    Saving What Matters will train up to 10 university students in the skills of digital storytelling and show them how cultural heritage preservation can be used as a tool in community development projects on a local, regional, and international scale.
  • Athar Lina (Egypt) and Avenue 50 Studio (California)
    Through Walls: A Heritage Dialogue will empower up to 10 young female artists, enlisting them in the creation of two murals celebrating the heritage of specific neighborhoods in both Los Angeles and in Cairo.
  • Khoj International Artists Association (India) and Global 1-to-1 (New Mexico)
    Voices from the Margins will connect up to 12 at-risk youth and provide opportunities for them to explore the role of their traditional languages in cultural expression, especially in music and poetry. Together, they’ll create a music video reflecting what they’ve learned.
  • Contact Base (India) and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (Washington, D.C.)
    Learning Together Toward a Brighter the Future will challenge up to 20 U.S. university students from disadvantaged backgrounds and 20 traditional artists and underserved youth from India to explore community-based cultural enterprise and heritage preservation through storytelling and folk music. The project will culminate in broad-reaching public exhibitions in each country.

The twelve organizations will now receive additional training on projects. The virtual exchanges will commence in early 2018, leading up to the in-person exchanges and public exhibitions in the spring and summer of 2018.

About ECA

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs moves people to move ideas.  ECA builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships. The State Department’s cultural diplomacy programs employ the arts to advance U.S foreign policy by sharing America’s artistic excellence, demonstrating America’s respect for other cultures, creating international networks, and deepening trust.
Contact: [email protected]

About World LearningWorld Learning is a nonprofit organization empowering people and strengthening institutions through education, sustainable development, and exchange programs in more than 60 countries.

Boeing and World Learning Are Cultivating a Modern Workforce in Algeria and Egypt

When aerospace giant Boeing sought to cultivate a modern workforce in Algeria and Egypt, World Learning was ready to heed the call. Between Boeing’s background in STEM education—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—and World Learning’s expertise in contextualizing curricula to meet local needs, the stage was set for a successful partnership.

Now, World Learning and Boeing are engaging hundreds of students of all ages in both countries, ensuring that the next generation workforce possesses the technical expertise and soft skills to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving job landscape.


In Egypt, Boeing and World Learning are teaming up to introduce the Boeing-supported “Curiosity Machine” curriculum to students nationwide.

The project-based platform is a perfect match for World Learning’s experiential learning philosophy: It presents students with real-world engineering design challenges, and encourages them to learn by discovering solutions in partnership with professional trainers and science teachers. This hands-on approach not only engages students—pushing them to learn both the how and the why of engineering—but it also links schoolwork more closely to professional work.

World Learning was well-positioned to introduce the Curiosity Machine in Egypt, having worked with the Ministry of Education for more than five years to open STEM-focused public secondary schools across the country. This past summer, World Learning launched the Curiosity Machine at 11 public STEM school summer camps in Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Daqahleya, Assiut, Kafr El Sheikh, Ismaleya, Luxor, Red Sea, Menoufeya, and Gharbeya.

Boeing and World Learning are also working together to connect some of Egypt’s most marginalized populations with job opportunities. With a Boeing grant, World Learning is building the capacity of a local grassroots nonprofit, Light and Hope, to increase opportunities for people with sight disabilities. This program includes direct training for visually impaired people and their caretakers, plus training for the Light and Hope’s staff and board members, who will sustain the work in the years to come.


Boeing’s Curiosity Machine was a fit for World Learning’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) center in Algiers, Algeria. Structured around real-world problems, the STEAM Center helps students make connections between school, community, and the global world of work.

Since it launched in April 2016, the STEAM Center has trained more than 900 students (including 150 who regularly participate in activities), and has taught 25 teachers across Algeria to bring interactive STEAM teaching approaches to their own classrooms. In July 2017, it sent a team of young tech enthusiasts to the US to participate in the FIRST Global Robotics Challenge.

Boeing’s support and cutting-edge learning platform is at the heart of the center’s success. Yakdane Bakelli, Curiosity Machine Head Mentor, says the program quickly became one of the STEAM Center’s more popular offerings. “It adds a high value of creativity and engineering to students,” he says. “Even when we have a break, some students refuse to rest, preferring to work to find a solution. Generally, those students are the ones who were reserved at the beginning of the workshop.”

Bernard Dunn, president of Boeing Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey, says the company is proud to bring the Curiosity Machine to classrooms:

“By investing in high-quality, engaging education, Boeing is committed to empowering and inspiring a new generation to explore the fields of STEM and aerospace engineering.”

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars

Participant Profile

Participants are alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs and vary in age and level of expertise, but all will be engaged in the seminar topic and highly motivated to create change in their communities.

Please consult the list of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs below.

Participant Selection

Alumni TIES participants who are not U.S. citizens are nominated by the U.S. Embassies or Consulates in their countries. Please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country to learn how you can participate in Alumni TIES. Potential Alumni TIES participants who are living in the United States can apply for specific seminars managed by World Learning. The web link to the online application will be distributed widely by the Office of Alumni Affairs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

All participants for Alumni TIES seminars are selected by the U.S. Department of State.

Program Design

Alumni TIES seminars take place in six world regions and the U.S.; each seminar is three to four days for small groups of alumni. The seminars include speakers, capacity development trainings, and alumni networking activities. Through the small grants initiative, alumni have the opportunity to take action and make a positive difference in their communities.

Learn More

Watch more videos about the Alumni TIES program.

Read stories from past participants about their experiences at the seminars or with their small grant projects on the Alumni TIES blog.

For information on programs for U.S. government-sponsored exchange program alumni visit the International Exchange Alumni website.

Alumni TIES is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning, in partnership with the Office of Alumni Affairs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).  

Communities Connecting Heritage

Communities Connecting HeritageSM  Program Impact


CCH Alumni Small Grants

At the conclusion of the program’s third year, the CCH team opened the Communities Connecting Heritage Small Grants to organizational and community member alumni from all three CCH cycles. The following projects were selected for CCH Small Grant implementation.

Kristina Llane (Albania)
Title of Project: Beekeeping Tradition as and Educative Tool

This project aims to preserve and share the importance of local beekeeping traditions in the Gjirokastra community of Albania. Kristina will work with elementary school students to cultivate youth interest in beekeeping’s cultural role in their community. Throughout the project, students and teachers will contribute to an educational book on beekeeping to that will equip teachers to continue sharing with future classrooms. The project will conclude with a panel discussion focused on protecting and preserving culture, tradition, and the environment in Albania.

Kalpana Gagdekar (India)
Title of Project: Connecting Community with Their Traditional/Heritage Cuisine

This project will explore and document the Chhara community’s traditional cuisines, which are experiencing a disappearing effect under modern global influences. Kalpana aims to document the rituals and heritage of Chhara cuisine through seven video interviews with Chhara women elders. The project combines modern technology with traditional food heritage and welcomes Chhara members of all ages to reclaim and rediscover their own heritage.

Mandala Theatre (Nepal) and Creative Connections (Connecticut, U.S.)
Title of Project: Hamro Sanskriti: Preserving Cultural Heritage through Participatory Theatre

The goal of this project is to provide youth in Connecticut and Nepal with a deeper connection to their own culture through student-led virtual workshops. The workshops – spearheaded by theater trainers in Nepal and Connecticut – will teach participatory theater techniques to 250 high school students and conclude with a model forum theater piece produced by students for the public.

Athar Lina (Egypt)
Title of Project: Rawya: The Water Women

Rawya: The Water Women is a Cairo-based project aimed at restoring the historically significant Sabil Um Abbas, a 19th century religious building and gathering place, into a usable community space once more. In addition to restoring aspects of the building, the project will connect U.S. and Egyptian women storytellers Donna Bryson and Chirine El Ansary to curate a storytelling experience of powerful 19th century women from their respective countries. Their work will culminate in a video exhibition that will be on display in the newly renovated Sabil Um Abbas for the local community to experience.

Bhasha Research and Publication Centre (India) and University of Northern Colorado (Colorado, U.S.)
Title of Project: Reclaiming Heritage II: Building Social Bonds and Bridges with Cultural Heritage

This project will utilize digital library resources at UNC to create and share cultural heritage “snapshots” with the broader community. These short videos will help immigrants and refugees in Colorado and indigenous peoples in India share their cultural heritage while building bonds with their local communities. The project will provide its participants with the ownership and platform to share their own heritage while paving a pathway for integration with others in their community.

Outside the Lens (California, U.S.)
Title of Project: Youth Tellers

Youth Tellers is a cross-cultural collaboration between Latinx youth in California and Bosnia-Herzegovina, relying on the concepts of past, present, and future to explore students’ complex cultural identities. Using digital media tools including photography, videography, and youth-facing communication forums like Discord, the project will culminate in a virtual exhibition showcasing the participants’ cultural heritage exchange with one another.

Explore the Story section on the right to learn more about the unique cultural heritage projects implemented since 2018.

Digital Communication Network

Examples of Past Digital Communication Network Projects

  • Internet vs. Democracy Forum
  • Roaring 20s #Digital Forum
  • Combatting Disinformation Training Program
  • Digital and Media Literacy for NGOs Training Program
  • Tolerance and Coexistence 2.0 Forum
  • Montenegro Digital Influencers Hub
  • Humor and Games for Social Good Forum

Fulbright Specialist Program


Link U.S. Experts and International Institutions

A program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. academics and established professionals to engage in two- to six-week consultancies at host institutions across the globe. Host institutions, including universities, non-profits, and other organizations, develop and submit projects for approval by the U.S. Embassy or Fulbright Commission in their country in wide-ranging academic and professional fields that build capacity and promote long-lasting linkages between individuals and institutions in the U.S. and abroad.


Address Priorities and Build Institutional Capacity at Institutions Around the World

An important companion to the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program, the Fulbright Specialist Program differs by providing short-term exchange experiences that tackle discrete, sometimes rapid response, projects. The Fulbright Specialist Program encourages participation of both university faculty and highly experienced non-academics, including legal experts, business professionals, public health practitioners, scientists, IT professionals, artists, and journalists. The program is a mutually beneficial opportunity for the Specialist who may not be available to leave their position for an extended period of time and the host institution which needs an experienced partner to jointly tackle a problem or examine an issue on a short-term basis.


Become a Fulbright Specialist: Apply to Join the Roster

Fulbright Specialists are a diverse group of highly experienced, well-established faculty members and professionals who represent a wide variety of academic disciplines and professions.  In order to be eligible to serve as a Fulbright Specialist, candidates must have significant experience in their respective professional field and be a U.S. citizen at time of application. Eligible disciplines and professional fields supported by the Fulbright Specialist Program are listed below.

  • Agriculture
  • American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Biology Education
  • Business Administration
  • Chemistry Education
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Science and Information Technology
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering Education
  • Environmental Science
  • Law
  • Library Science
  • Math Education
  • Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies
  • Physics Education
  • Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Public/Global Health
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Urban Planning

Interested candidates can find more information about the Fulbright Specialist Program and apply to serve as a Specialist at Candidates who meet all eligibility requirements will have their full applications reviewed by a panel of their professional peers. Candidates who are approved by the peer review panels will then join the Fulbright Specialist Roster. Individuals remain on the Specialist Roster for a three-year term and are eligible to be matched with a host institution’s project abroad during that tenure.

The following costs are covered for those Fulbright Specialists who are matched to a project: international and domestic airfare, ground transportation, visa fees, lodging, meals, and incidentals. A daily honorarium is also provided.

Become a Host: Bring a Fulbright Specialist to Your Institution

The Fulbright Specialist Program allows universities, cultural centers, non-governmental organizations, and other institutions abroad to host a leading U.S. academic or professional to work on diverse, short-term collaborative projects where the Specialist conducts activities which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Delivering a seminar or workshop
  • Consulting on faculty or workforce development
  • Developing academic or training curricula and materials
  • Lecturing at the graduate or undergraduate level
  • Conducting needs assessments or evaluations for a program or institution

Institutions interested in hosting a Fulbright Specialist should contact their local Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy for country-specific requirements and deadlines.

Contact information for all participating countries is available on the website.

For more information or questions about the Fulbright Specialist Program, please email [email protected].

The Fulbright Specialist Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by World Learning.

EducationUSA Academy

For further information: [email protected]

“Through EducationUSA Academy, I made new friends from all over the world, I learned about the American education system and requirements for getting accepted to an American university, and I visited one of the most interesting places in the United States in a friendly and helpful group.” -2017 EducationUSA Academy participant

Student Eligibility

Participants must:

  • Be students (currently enrolled or recently graduated), ages 15-18 at the time of the summer program;
  • Have at least three years of middle to high school English language study (language requirements may vary slightly by institution);
  • Be mature and self-disciplined, with a commitment to active participation in the Academy and its programming;
  • Aspire to pursue a portion of their higher education in the U.S.; and
  • Have sufficient personal funds to cover program fees and international airfare.

More information is available from your local EducationUSA adviser. To find your local EducationUSA advising center, please visit the EducationUSA website.

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EducationUSA Academy is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by World Learning.

Egypt STEM Schools Project

The project transformed Egypt’s only STEM school into a collaborative network that served as a catalyst for system-wide STEM education reform. The eleven model schools, established throughout the country, deliver comprehensive support to students, teachers, and administrators, as well as key policy, private sector, and community stakeholders. Through targeted awareness raising, institutional capacity development, teacher training, curriculum development, and student learning assessment, the STEM model schools serve as incubators for future leaders and innovators who will have the potential to advance research and development initiatives that fuel scientific invention and generate employment opportunities and economic growth.  By the end of the project, 11 schools were equipped with science and Fab Lab equipment, 2,799 students (1,586 boys & 1,213 girls) students had been enrolled in STEM schools, 458 students (294 boys, 164 girls) had graduated and gone on to higher education in Egypt and abroad, 604 teachers, 62 school administrators and 503 Ministry of Education officials were trained to maintain and expand the STEM schools, 52 preparatory schools received training and materials to introduce STEM extracurricular activities, and 18 public-private partnerships were formed to support the STEM school network.