The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programs are competitive, merit-based scholarship programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
Over the last ten years, more than 250 students with disabilities from 37 countries have participated these life-changing youth programs.
"The right to health for women with disabilities must be respected and taken as a priority by the community and the government!"
WILD-South Sudan participant
In South Sudan, like many parts of the developing world, women and girls with disabilities have historically been denied their right to sexual and reproductive health.
A line graph showing the total number of FLEX and YES Students with Disabilities, by Year, 2007-2016
Number of FLEX Students with Disabilities, by Year
2007 = 16
2008 = 14
2009 = 12
2010 = 12
2011 = 12
2012 = 14
2013 = 9
2014 = 20
2015 = 11
2016 = 14
At just 16 years old, Ana was so confident that she and her wheelchair would soon be on their way to the U.S., she told practically everyone she knew that she had applied to the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
Although Ana didn’t make the final selection pool the first time, she tried again a year later.
"When I applied the second time, I didn’t tell anybody except my mom. Most of my family found out that I was going to fly two days before my flight when we had my farewell party. They were shocked!"
In late November 2016, a RightsNow! team of U.S. disability experts traveled to Lima, Peru to meet with disability leaders, other leaders of civil society organizations, and government representatives. The RightsNow! team gathered information to analyze the status of implementation and enforcement of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) and national legal frameworks safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities, while identifying topics for future support to promote the enforcement of national disability laws.
In October 2016, RightsNow! representatives traveled to Guatemala to meet with disability rights leaders and other key stakeholders in order to learn about the status of and priorities for greater enforcement of disability rights. Working in close collaboration with Colectivo Vida Independiente de Guatemala, a local cross-disability Disabled People's Organization (DPO), the RightsNow! team met with a range of stakeholders within the disability sector.
To advance the rights and leadership of people with disabilities globally, we must create consciousness of a shared identity and social struggle. That means we must support the goals of people with disabilities to do international exchange – to introduce them to those with similar struggles from other parts of the world and open up a forum to share solutions.
02/15/2017 - 6:38pm
In February, MIUSA joined high school exchange students currently in the United States on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program in Washington, DC, for the Civic Education Workshop (CEW).
On any campus, you are likely to find students, staff, and faculty with disabilities studying, working, and teaching alongside people without disabilities. Imagine yourself among them, then begin your path to U.S. study today!
The celebration of women leaders with disabilities and the international traveling exhibit will feature portraits and vignettes of 30 women activists with disabilities from around the world.
The exhibition will be a space to promote networking and partnerships between women leaders with disabilities, human rights, development, and government agencies. The event will also include, as featured presenters, 25 women leaders with disabilities from throughout the country, who will be participating in the Women's Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) - Panama.
At the annual meeting of the Youth Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, MIUSA joined representatives of international exchange organizations to discuss trends and best practices in sponsored youth programs, including the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) and Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) programs.
As the largest organization for English language educators, TESOL International Association hosts more than 6,500 people annually from around the world at its convention. Educators at all levels attend to exchange ideas and connect with a dynamic professional community.
The NCDE has launched the #AccessLanguages campaign to encourage more people with disabilities to learn and teach a foreign language abroad, including ESL/EFL.
Students with disabilities are among those diverse groups of students who continue to be either underrepresented or underserved in education abroad, while at the same time data from the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) most recent Open Doors Survey indicate an increase in their numbers compared to previous years. In response to these trends, several institutions, organizations, and individuals are taking innovative approaches to championing disability inclusion, recognizing and valuing disability as part of diversity.
To increase the number of people with disabilities involved in international exchange, study abroad, research and volunteer service overseas, we count on the guidance and support of advocates in the fields of international exchange and disability rights and services. That's why MIUSA co-leads the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) Roundtable Consortium along with NCDE's sponsor, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.