We are excited to partner with Global Ties U.S. to bring together women and girls ages 15-19 from the United States and Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region in a supportive virtual space to develop emotional resilience skills through the MENA-USA Empowering Resilient Girls Exchange (MERGE) program. Approximately 30 students will be selected from the Capital Region, all are encouraged to apply.

Program description

Participants discuss and experiment with a variety of stress-relief and coping techniques while guided by trained facilitators, engaging in both synchronous (live) and asynchronous exchange. MERGE is a series of eight-week open enrollment virtual exchanges for 15–19-year-old girls in the United States and the Middle East/North Africa.

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

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.

When will MERGE take place?

MERGE runs for eight (8) weeks. The second cohort starts September 26, 2022 and ends on November 18, 2022. The program 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 also 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.

Who should apply?

MERGE participants must:

  • Reside in the United States or a MENA region country (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, or Yemen);
  • Identify as a girl or young woman;
  • Be between the ages of 15 to 19 as of September 26, 2022;
  • Speak English at an intermediate level or higher;
  • Be available during the program dates listed above;
  • 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.


Please join us for a virtual info session on September 8th at 3pm ET.

Date Time: Sep 8, 2022 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: MERGE Participant Information Session

Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: Click Here to Join

Or One tap mobile: US: +13092053325,,85983851289# or +13126266799,,85983851289#
Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):     
US: +1 309 205 3325 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 931 3860 or +1 929 436 2866 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 386 347 5053 or +1 564 217 2000 or +1 669 444 9171 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 719 359 4580
Webinar ID: 859 8385 1289
Participant ID: 494111

Please contact the MERGE Program Team at for any additional questions.

Applications close on Wednesday, September 21, 2022. Ready to apply? Click below!