Innovation for Community Action

2016 SYLEP participants, cultural ambassadors and staff enjoy the view at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

Legacy International has a 40+ year track record providing safe and enriching programming. During this global pandemic, our Health & Safety Team continuously monitors the global and local health advisories. In 2021, we are adjusting how in-person exchange programs are delivered so the preventative measures to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases is at the forefront. The safety of our staff, exchange visitors, program partners and their families is our priority.  All participants will benefit from a rigorous testing and other program modifications as we implement these plans and once again enjoy rewarding cultural immersions.

Program Dates

  • Cohort One (selected in 2020) – July 12 – August 1, 2021
  • Cohort Two (selected in 2021) – August 9 – August 29, 2021

The Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Programs (SYLEP) is a multi-phased leadership experience for Saudi university students or recently graduated students between the ages of 21-26 and U.S. Cultural Ambassadors (rising undergraduate seniors, graduate students, and recent graduates). SYLEP seeks to build leadership skills, civic responsibility, appreciation for cultural diversity, community engagement, and volunteerism through exploration of themes such as entrepreneurship, innovation, science and technology, community health, job readiness, youth engagement, and other issue areas.

Through a series of site visits, trainings, expert sessions, volunteer opportunities, and participation events with agencies, organizations, and professionals working in this field, Legacy International introduces participants to innovative local, state, federal, public, and private programs. We aim to expose participants to individual, volunteer led initiatives as well as larger scale government and corporate solutions. In addition, Saudi participants join in activities side-by-side with U.S. community members. In this way, participants will not only learn about solutions but will get the opportunity for some hands-on experience during the exchange. Upon their return home, Saudi participants conduct follow-on projects in their home communities or university campuses, supported by Legacy International.

The goals of this program are to promote mutual understanding between the people of the U.S and the people of Saudi Arabia, prepare young leaders to become responsible citizens and contributing members of their communities, and develop leadership skills among Saudi youth. They observe how individuals, non-governmental organizations, and government entities address community needs through public, private, and joint initiatives.


2018 SYLEP participants and Cultural Ambassador in Austin, TX 

2020 celebrated 75 years of a strong partnership between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia based on mutual respect and common interests. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have a long history of technical and educational exchange which has benefited both nations. Building on the long-standing themes of SYLEP – leadership, tolerance, diversity, and strengthening communities – the Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program focuses on innovation aimed towards community engagement and action that allows for the upskilling of Saudi youth to improve community engagement across the Kingdom. The program builds upon their knowledge of technology and innovation as solutions to improve their communities.

2017 SYLEP participants meet professionals in a wide variety of fields at a networking event.


Ways to Participate

  • U.S. university students who are currently enrolled in a college or university (upcoming senior undergrads, or graduate students) or recent graduates may apply as U.S. Cultural Ambassador.
  • Community members & families who live in one of the host communities may serve as hospitality hosts.
  • Saudi university students, ages 21-26, who are citizens and currently residing and studying in Saudi Arabia are eligible. Students with significant prior U.S. experience (ex. study abroad), are U.S. citizens or hold U.S. Permanent Residency status are not eligible. Applicants should possess sufficient English to participate in U.S. university-level classes. Applications have closed for 2021 – please check back next year.

Blog Posts

SYLEP is sponsored by the United States Department of State, U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, and administered by Legacy International.