Study Abroad for Free in High School


Former Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange students posing for a fun picture on program

Emily Moore, Assistant Student Life Editor

The Department of State sponsors several scholarship programs for high school students each year.  Three of the most enriching ones are featured here. If you take every chance presented to you to experience new things, see the world, and meet new people, you may want to look into one of the programs below.  These opportunities were designed to strengthen US ties, promote cultural understanding, and build strong youth ambassadors.

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange

CBYX is a ten month long exchange program jointly funded by the American Congress and German Bundestag.  250 American teenagers and 285 German teenagers receive the scholarship each year. The program starts with a Department of State orientation in Washington D.C.. From there, scholars travel to Germany and spend a month with fellow Americans at a language camp.  After language camp, scholars disperse around Germany to live with their host families and experience life as a German teenager! They are immersed in all things German through attending school, living with a typical German family, and getting involved in their local communities.  Scholars meet up for mid year and end of year seminars in Germany, Knowledge of the language is not required for the program, and teens with all levels of experience in German get accepted! CBYX also has Young Professionals and Vocational programs for high school graduates.

Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad

YES Abroad sends 65 students on exchange, and students from other countries also come to the US.  YES Abroad is a little different in that there are several different countries available. Though it is subject to change from year to year, participating countries in the 2019-2020 exchange were Bosnia and Herzegovinia, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, North Macedonia, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, and Turkey.  Pre Departure Orientation takes place at the end of June, and scholars travel to their respective countries between June and September for the whole academic year. YES Abroad students also attend school with local teenagers and are encouraged to learn the language. They work on a capstone project centered around a specific aspect of the host culture.

National Security Language Initiative for Youth

NSLI-Y was designed to improve critical language learning for American teenagers.  Languages focused on include Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Turkish.  NSLI-Y is unique in that it has two program length options. Summer and academic year programs are offered.  Both place a heightened emphasis on the language learning aspect of exchange, summer students having about four hours of formal language instruction a day, and year long students receiving at least ten hours a week.  Though the program is targeted specifically at language learning, previous experience with a foreign language is not required. Most NSLI-Y programs feature homestays, some stay with a host family the whole exchange, some stay in group housing and dormitories, and some do a mixture of the two.

All three of these programs include round-trip airfare, room and board, host country visa fees, and much more.  The applications for YES Abroad and CBYX are usually due in December, and NSLI-Y typically sets a late October deadline.  Semifinalists are generally announced a couple of months later and, after interviews take place, finalists are notified around March or April.  If you are interested in representing the United States as a youth ambassador overseas and experiencing a plethora of new things, you can explore each opportunity further through the links below the individual descriptions!