Wilderness Institute’s Young Iraqi Leaders Program

By Isabel Langlois

I am spending my internship working with the Wilderness Institute’s Young Iraqi Leaders program. IYLP is a program through the State Department that brings high school aged students to the United States to build leadership through experiential learning at a handful of Universities in the US. Many Universities applied to be a part of this program; fortunately, the University of Montana has been honored to be a host. The theme that the program is focussing on this summer is the relationship between cultural and environmental preservation. This theme is especially relevant coming out a the educational semester of Wilderness and Civilization that focuses on the relationship between man and the environment. The Wilderness Institute and Office of Global Engagement will pair to diversify the activities for the program. The Wilderness Institute will focus on activities such as tracking, sustainable food and transportations systems, Montana ecology, and other trips that are associated with the relationships humans yield with the living environment. My role in the internship has varied from research on the formation of boundaries in the middle east post World War II and cultural relations in Iraq to creating logistical spreadsheets for planning the activities for students. I am very appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of a program that creates a relationship with my isolated research and the reality of international relations. In light of the new administration, travel bans, and Middle East relations this internship has maintained a level of uncertainty. This uncertainty stands as a reminder of the uncertainty of many freedoms and relationships. I am looking forward to meeting the students and navigating cultural waters to learn from friends.

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