A large group of people on a hill overlooking green rolling hills.

World Learning Youth Programs bring international high school age youth to the U.S. for short-term intensive leadership and peacebuilding programs and exchanges.

Learn more about our Global Youth Exchanges.

The programs have traditional summer camp elements combined with academic content on global issues, civics, peacebuilding, cross-cultural and language studies. All programs follow a similar format of orientation, group development and training in a first location, followed by an excursion to a homestay community and further exploration of the program theme, concluding with re-entry, reflection and, in some cases, project design in a final location. U.S. programs start with an orientation segment, followed by a homestay segment implemented by one of our over 20 local partner organizations spread across the U.S., and ends with a synthesis segment in Washington, D.C. Most programs expect students to create an issue-based project design which will be implemented post-program in their home communities. Some of the domestic programs include U.S. youth and some of our programs take U.S. youth overseas. We have more than 1,000 youth participants on over 20 programs each year.


World Learning seeks individuals who have demonstrated interest in youth development and experiential learning, and experience working with young people and leading short-term, high school exchange programs. Leaders maximize the wellbeing of participants in order to foster meaningful and memorable learning experiences. Leaders deliver educational content and are knowledgeable in the design and delivery of active, engaging workshops. Leaders also represent World Learning in U.S. domestic host communities, and at times overseas, and manage partner relationships with integrity and professionalism.

World Learning leaders are dedicated to the field of youth development and love working directly with young people. They are dynamic, flexible, energetic and team players who succeed in multifaceted, intense, fast-paced and collaborative environments. They are professionals who are responsible, and able to manage challenges and uncertainty with poise, compassion, and compromise.

A woman stands in front of a white board with a flipchart next to her.

Our Leaders

  • Are dynamic, flexible, energetic, pro-active team players;
  • Genuinely enjoy spending time with high school students;
  • Are caring, warm, friendly, and love to laugh;
  • Are willing to put their participants’ learning and development ahead of their own experience;
  • Are ready for an intense, challenging, and rewarding programming experience;
  • Have a high level of social and emotional intelligence;
  • Have organizational and logistical skills;
  • Demonstrate skills and experience in cross-cultural sensitivity and communication;
  • Bring a wide variety of backgrounds and social identities;
  • Are aware of and committed to addressing bias, systemic inequalities, power, privilege, and oppression;
  • Are, above all, educators and leaders.
Leader Qualifications

These highly demanding positions require a significant amount of stamina, positivity, teamwork, flexibility, diplomacy, initiative, as well as experience working with high school students. The successful candidates will have at least the following qualifications:

  • Proven commitment to young people
    Candidates must enjoy interacting with teenagers: being with them 24/7; building positive and empowering relationships that bridge the ‘adult’-‘teenager’ divide; and supporting adolescent dynamics including relationships, health needs and other developmental concerns.

  • Education experience, preferably with high school age students
    Teaching, training, or facilitation background in formal K-12 public, private, or in alternative educational environments, such as summer programs/camps, study abroad trip leading, mentoring, outdoor/experiential education or expeditions, arts programs, etc.

  • Commitment to conflict transformation, inter-group dialogue and leadership education
    Demonstrated by related work in the field, relevant study at undergraduate or graduate level, or prior peace education work.

  • Strong awareness of and interest in U.S. politics, civics, social issues, and global issues
    Community engagement or some form of prior activism work is highly preferred.

  • Strong facilitation and public speaking skills
    Ability and willingness to deliver and at times create workshops and engage in lively discussions with teenagers and adult mentors.

  • Cross-cultural experience
    Traveled outside of their home country, and/or have spent time immersed in a different cultural context, preferably one that required language study and skills.

  • Humility and a willingness to learn
    Perceptive and intuitive self-awareness is crucial. Must be willing to learn new skills and ask for help when needed.

  • Eligibility to work in the U.S.
    Unfortunately, given the condensed timeline of our hiring process and the fact that the leader positions are short-term assignments, we are unable to sponsor work authorization for potential candidates.  All candidates who are not currently authorized to work in the U.S. must obtain and provide proof of work authorization valid through October 2024 before we can consider your application for employment.

  • Current First Aid and CPR certification
    Must be obtained by June 1, 2024 and valid through September 1, 2024. Wilderness First Aid, WRF, WEMT, Water Safety, and Life-guard certifications are highly valued. World Learning provides all hired leaders with reimbursement of up to $105 that can be used toward CPR and First Aid certifications. If a leader is currently CPR and First Aid certified, the certification stipend may be used to pursue higher safety certifications, such as Wilderness First Responder.

  • At least 21 years of age
    Applicants must be 21 or older by June 1, 2024.

  • Valid U.S. driver’s license
    In some locations staff may be required to drive with participants in rental cars or SUVs as part of the role, and as such must have a valid US driver’s license.

  • Ability to pass a criminal background check

  • Physical ability to participate fully in the planned activities of your assigned program
    All programs include physical activities which require leaders’ full participation to ensure participant safety and experience. On program, leaders may be expected to help carry/transport suitcases and bags, participate in activities like a ropes course or zip lining, walk for long stretches of time each day, and lift/carry program materials and large containers of water for participants.  Many of our programs also include outdoor physical activities such as hiking and swimming.

  • Complete availability for the duration of your assigned program and Staff Training in Washington, D.C.

  • Willingness and ability to complete post-program evaluations and reports
Leader Responsibilities

Candidates with an exceedingly high degree of motivation to work with youth and their adult mentors are encouraged to apply. These highly competitive and demanding positions require a significant amount of stamina, positivity, teamwork, flexibility, diplomacy, initiative, as well as extensive cross-cultural experience. Responsibilities of these multifaceted positions include teaching and facilitation, as well a great deal of behind-the-scenes support work. Responsibilities and tasks include the following:

Education and Facilitation

  • Teach workshops on a wide range of topics including arts and leadership;
  • Facilitate small-group discussions and dialogue groups;
  • Co-lead teambuilding activities;
  • Co-facilitate and participate in large-group simulations and role-plays;
  • Speak with confidence and clarity in front of groups of 75 or more on a daily basis;
  • Prepare workshops, simulations, and discussions in short amounts of time;
  • Design new program components on the fly to accommodate participant interests;
  • Facilitate “Leaders of the Day” groups.

Participant Life

  • Pay close attention to participant needs, group dynamics, issues and problems;
  • Monitor participant health needs, and facilitate medical attention if required;
  • Nurture and foster the development of positive, supportive relationships among the participants;
  • Live on campus, in the same dorms as participants during programming;
  • Maintain positive, harmonious, and healthy living conditions;
  • Gather participants into their own dorms 15 minutes before room check;
  • Conduct room checks each evening;
  • Ensure that all dorm and program rules are respected by all participants;
  • Mediate and diffuse roommate and other participant disputes and tensions;
  • Facilitate participants’ timely arrival at activities;
  • Travel on planes and buses with participants


  • Attend all program components as described in weekly staff schedules;
  • Attend regular staff meetings;
  • Do supply runs to the store at all hours of the day and night;
  • Maintain timely and accurate petty cash accounting;
  • Drive rental cars and do airport runs;
  • Take pictures and help manage photo storage, slideshows, etc.;
  • Complete and submit a travel expense report;
  • Complete and submit a program evaluation;
  • Provide voice, text and photo updates to program team while traveling in host community;
  • Other duties, as assigned.
Pay, Benefits, and Opportunities
  • New leaders receive $110 per program day, plus full room and board. Return leaders receive $115 per program day, plus full room and board. Note: Leaders are on World Learning payroll, and income is taxable; no staff can be independent contractors.

  • World Learning covers leaders’ program-related travel expenses including: up to one round-trip domestic travel reservation from your nearest major airport, train station, or bus station, depending on your location, to Staff Training in Brattleboro, Vermont and back to your nearest major airport, train station, or bus station after the program. World Learning does not cover the cost of leaders’ transportation to/from their nearest major airport, train, or bus station for travel to/from their domestic flight/train/bus trip. (*Only applicable for leaders within the contiguous U.S. World Learning will reimburse leaders based outside of the contiguous U.S. up to $500 each way for their international travel costs—flight, train, hotel, etc.—to help offset their travel expenses, for a total of up to $1,000.)

  • Leaders receive immersive Staff Training in late June. Room and board during this intensive professional development training is provided, but it is not paid time.

  • Program itineraries are planned in advance, allowing leaders to focus their energy and skills on fostering participant growth, leading workshops, managing group dynamics, and facilitating experiential learning and reflection.

  • Workers compensation is provided; there is no medical insurance available with US-based positions. Leaders on programs with international travel components are provided with emergency travel insurance for the duration of their time outside of the US.
  • Leaders gain new colleagues and friends as they become part of World Learning’s network of educators, development professionals, and alumni that spans 85+ years and 60+ countries.

  • After leaders have worked one summer program, they are eligible to be hired for the youth programs which occur during the rest of the year.
Senior Program Leader Position

In addition to fulfilling the responsibilities required of all leaders, the Senior Program Leader position takes on increased responsibility and administrative support in collaboration with the Program Officer during the in-person exchange. During the host community segment, the Senior Program Leader may be based in a host community with participants or in the orientation or synthesis location. Location will be assigned depending on the size and logistics of the program.

IYLEP program teams are typically comprised of a Program Officer, 1-2 Senior Program Leaders, and 4-8 Program Leaders, while Youth Ambassadors, US Youth Ambassadors, and Jóvenes en Acción program teams are typically comprised of a Program Officer, 1 Senior Program Leader, and at times an additional 1-2 Program Leaders. Therefore, the nature of some Senior Program Leader responsibilities (particularly staff team management) will vary by program and will be discussed with candidates during the application process.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Strong administrative skills
  • High attention to detail
  • Prior experience with staff management and training
  • Strong teamwork and collaboration skills
  • Flexible and adaptable to change
  • Experience working with young people and implementing youth programming
  • Understanding of experiential education pedagogy
  • Experience overseeing participant/cohort needs; supporting individual well-being as well as fostering and maintaining healthy group dynamics
  • Prior experience leading a World Learning Youth Program


Administration and Logistics

  • Liaise with Program Officer to learn the ins and outs of assigned program, including curriculum
  • Prepare for orientation and synthesis segments, coordinating logistics such as
    • scheduling,
    • classroom preparation,
    • ground transportation,
    • site visits
    • meal reservations, and
    • vendor communications
  • Manage program finances and support leader financial tracking when applicable (expense tracking, participant meals and per diems, etc.)
  • Assist Program Officer with preparing program reports and timely funder updates
  • Coordinate and prepare staff, participants, and materials for workshops, field trips, and evening activities
  • Other duties as assigned

Team Management (The following responsibilities are typically only applicable on staff teams comprised of more than two staff members)

  • In concert with Program Officer, provide coaching and support to leaders in areas such as session facilitation, behavior management, group dynamics, participant well-being, and administrative tasks
    • Assist Program Officer with coordination of day-to-day team management, including:
      • Staff scheduling, including both duties and time off schedules,
      • Facilitate and manage daily staff meetings,
      • Communicate announcements to staff team,
      • Check-in with activity point people ensuring they are prepared
    • Review daily schedule and priorities
    • Support on-call incident response as directed by the Program Officer
      • Update the Incident Reporting Tool (IRT) with reported incidents from leaders
      • Provide coaching for leaders and guide them through situations as they arise

Compensation: $125 per day

How to Apply: Submit a leader application here. Applicants will learn more about the position and next steps throughout the hiring process.

Leader Timeline

November  – Application Available Online
The application for program leaders will be available online in early November.

November to January – Accepting Applications
World Learning Youth Exchange accepts program leader applications on a rolling basis between November and January. The people operations team will begin reviewing applications during this time period.

December – Early Bird Application Deadline
Program leader applicants are invited to submit their applications by December 10, 2023 (11:59 pm EST) early bird deadline. Both return and first-time program leader applicants are eligible to submit early bird applications; however, the people operations team will only review return leader applications at that time. Applicants who have not led a program with us in the past can expect for their application to be reviewed after the general application deadline.

January – Application Deadline
Program leader applications will be accepted through January 31, 2024 (11:59pm EST).

February to April – Application Review and Interview Period
During this time, the people operations team will review leader applications and will begin contacting qualified applicants to schedule interviews. The interview process may include two separate interviews: a preliminary self-recorded “one-way” interview and a live second-round interview with a member of the people operations team. Candidates being considered for the senior program leader position can expect a third interview, and a language check may be included for the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program: Arabic.

April to May – Hiring and Leader Onboarding
Selected applicants will receive offer letters for program leader positions. While potential program placements will be discussed with applicants during the interview process, exact program placements are typically included with the leader’s offer letters. Leaders will complete the required hiring paperwork, be introduced to their teammates, and engage in several pre-training responsibilities, all of which can be completed remotely.

Mid to Late June – Staff Training
All leaders are required to attend the entirety of Staff Training in late June in Washington, D.C. We will share more information about Staff Training dates during the application process. Some leaders may have several days’ or weeks’ break between the end of training and the start of their assigned program and will either stay at the staff training location or travel home.

Staff Training provides leaders with a professional development opportunity in intercultural training which will prepare them to implement successful programs using World Learning’s experiential learning pedagogy. Leaders will be trained on effective leadership practices, how to monitor participants’ safety and welfare, and how to administer the program logistics and budget. Leaders will benefit from the insight of past and present leaders as well as World Learning’s professional network.

July–August – World Learning Youth Programs
World Learning Youth Programs are from two to four weeks in length, with some beginning immediately after Staff Training and others beginning later in the summer. More information about program dates will be provided throughout the application process.

August to September – Post Program Responsibilities
Leaders work with the Youth Exchange Operations team to provide feedback and evaluations on their program, including submission of finances and written reports due within two weeks of their program’s conclusion. All post-program responsibilities can be completed remotely.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do I design the exchange structure and curriculum?
The programs are actually year-long and the exchange design has been in the works for months prior to the student’s arrival. The design is based on previous years’ experience and World Learning pedagogy. Many workshops have curriculum already developed. Leaders will be given curriculum and asked to update it to the students’ context and their particular skills. The full-time program team will review the different pieces and is responsible for overall curriculum flow. The leaders will be teaching constantly on the program, in between and during workshops. They are closest to the students and their experience and will be able to advocate for and shape any changes in approach throughout the week collaboratively with the team.

What does time off look like? How much will I work in a day?
During the orientation and synthesis segments, leaders have between two and three chunks of time off per segment that are coordinated with the rest of team. The team is responsible for the students 24/7 and will trade off evening bed checks and morning wake-ups. You will be working long days. During those working hours your responsibility level will vary depending on how many workshops you are leading and how the team chooses to split tasks, including following up with individual participants.

During the host community segment, traveling leaders are expected to accompany the group’s program activities scheduled and coordinated by the host community partner, typically between around 8:30am and 5:30pm, oftentimes arriving early and staying late to accompany participants. During time not scheduled by the program (most evenings and most weekend days), participants will be with host families, and traveling leaders have personal time (individual lodging is provided by World Learning). While this segment of the program can be slower-paced and more restful for leaders, traveling leaders are always on-call during the host community segment, and should be prepared at all times to meet up with participants if necessary.

We understand that leaders have multi-faceted lives that sometimes require personal tasks outside of program responsibilities. However, past leaders have reported that they found it challenging to balance extensive outside responsibilities, such as applying for jobs or working on a master’s or PhD program.

Where do leaders stay during Staff Training and program?
During Staff Training, leaders stay in the shared dormitories and should expect to share a room with at least one other leader. During the orientation segment of the program, leaders should expect to have their own dorm room, but will be staying in a building with participants (this may differ slightly depending on location). During the host community segment of the program, leaders should expect to have private lodging provided for them (typically in an AirBnB). On programs where there are two traveling leaders, they can expect to share that lodging. On some occasions, leaders may stay with friends or family in their assigned host city. During the synthesis segment of the program, leaders should expect to share a room with other leaders, and will stay in the same location as the participants.

How long has the program been in process before the temporary leaders join? What happens after?
At least 5 months of preparation have occurred before the exchange. After the exchange the students will be implementing community projects with the support of their adult mentors with a deadline of 6 months to 1 year after the exchange.

Do I have to speak the language of the students?
No, our programs are conducted in English and students are encouraged to speak it as much as possible to get the added benefit of language immersion. *IYLEP Arabic requires applicants to have Arabic language skills. Interpretation and translation skills are highly preferred.

Who are the participants?
Youth Programs participants are active in their communities and interested in increasing understanding across cultures. Many are from underserved populations that could not afford an international experience without a similar program. Programs may have Adult Mentor participants as well. These adults come from various walks of life, but have experience working with youth (in the classroom, community groups, etc.) and are interested in gaining deeper understanding in how to mentor and support young people in their own communities. Youth participants are between 15 and 18 years old; and Adult Mentors tend to be 25 years old or older. *IYLEP Undergraduate participants are between 21 and 24 years old.

Do I have to be a certain age to qualify for this job?
All hired leaders must be 21 years old by June 1, 2024. There is no age limit and we encourage everyone to apply.

Do I have to have outdoor technical skills?
No, while we spend time outside and are active, there is no technical skill required for this exchange for outdoor sports or adventuring.

I have x religion/allergy/disability, can I apply?
Yes. We know that this job requires stamina during long, energy-driven days, but it is also highly collaborative and planned to each staff’s needs and skills. We are more than happy to work with you to make sure your needs are met during the program. This may include specific time off, meals created separately, or a shift in how a task can be accomplished. It is the goal of World Learning and its partners to ensure the full and equal participation of everybody regardless of gender, race, sexual preference, disability or otherwise. It is our policy to make necessary, reasonable accommodations to ensure that our programs are accessible by both students and staff.

Do you have a question not answered on this webpage?
Contact [email protected].
Please note: We request that applicants contact us via email and not phone; due to our small staff and the large volume of applications we receive, we cannot field inquiry calls.

Voices from Past Leaders

We asked first-time Youth Program leaders: What would you tell future applicants about the leader role? Here’s what they said…

“This position is exhausting! But it was one of the most personally and professionally rewarding experiences of my life so far.”

Lydia, Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (Undergraduate)

“You have to be committed to this job! When I first applied, I thought I was just looking for a summer job. What I found was a life-altering two months with memories and relationships I will hold onto forever. I can honestly say at the end of all this that I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else I could have done this summer.”

Andrew, Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (English)

“It will stretch and forever shape you as a human, teacher, facilitator, and activist.”

J, Jóvenes en Acción and Youth Ambassadors Program with the Caribbean

Past Leaders

Soufiane Khebbaz
Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (Arabic and English)
Soufiane Khebbaz is an experienced practitioner with a demonstrated history of working in the philanthropy and higher education. Soufiane worked in the nonprofit community in Casablanca as an office manager and a program coordinator for the past six years. He designed and implemented leadership youth programs from many organizations the last of which was titled “Youth Media and Social Change”. Soufiane is a graduate of SIT Graduate Institute where he received a MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management. He was a Fulbright Teacher Assistant and participated in a training for intercultural communication at Stanford University, as well as part of International Visitors Leaders Program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He was selected as an Emerging Leader at the Atlantic Dialogue Conference in December 2016. He is working on a PhD research project that grapples with peacebuilding, urban social change and its connections to larger political struggles in the MENA region.

Destini Torres
Jóvenes en Acción
Destini Torres was born and raised in New York City. She holds a BA in sociology and communication with a minor in gender studies. Destini studied abroad with SIT Study Abroad in 2016 to Nicaragua and Cuba where she further developed her understanding of the cultures of the countries and the Spanish language. Following graduation, Destini traveled to Ireland for two weeks and lived in New Orleans for a month and a half. There Destini immersed herself in new environments, reflecting on her own identity and role in society. After traveling, Destini commenced work as a Bilingual Domestic Violence (DV) case manager for Domestic Violence survivors at a DV family shelter. As a case manager, Destini helps to stabilize the lives of the survivors as well as their children following their traumatic experiences by referring them to external support systems and counseling them through case management. At the shelter, she facilitates weekly domestic violence support groups in Spanish. Destini’s long-term goals are to receive her master’s degree in social work and to continue connecting with people from all cultures through traveling abroad.

Mary Beth Moyer
Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program
Mary Beth Moyer grew up in Lewiston, Maine. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Maine at Farmington where she earned her BA in international and global studies with a concentration on the francophone world and a political science minor. Her passion for the world and travel began when she participated in a 16-day long exchange program to Australia and New Zealand when she was twelve years old. Currently she is a MA candidate at SIT Graduate Institute studying peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Mary Beth has fallen in love with Sub-Saharan Africa and has visited the region several times. Mary Beth enjoys working with youth and spent the summers of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 working with students from the United States, Ireland, Germany, Bosnia, Spain, and Iraq, including the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Prorgam (English). She has volunteered with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, tutored adult ELL students in her hometown, and now works as an International Baccalaureate English teacher at an international school in Senegal. In her free time, she enjoys going on walks, reading, and completing jigsaw puzzles.