Since 2008, Between the Lines (BTL) has hosted young writers at the University of Iowa for a cultural exchange program through the International Writing Program that focuses on the art and craft of creative writing. Due to COVID-19, for the first time ever, participants ages 15-18, joined each other from around the world virtually in intensive, two-week sessions designed to broaden their literary horizons and deepen their empathy for and understanding of one another’s identities, cultures, and stories.

From their home countries, students collaborated in online global literature seminars and creative writing workshops. They also performed a reading of their new work in spoken-word Open Mic events on Zoom and were published together in BTL session anthologies.

In addition to their daily writing workshops or global literature seminars, participants from BTL: Identity & Belonging and BTL: Peace & the Writing Experience were introduced to professional writers and their work in special topic seminars including "Digital Storytelling" with Lauren Haldeman. Participants chose from various styles of poetry film creation, including "one-shot" and time-lapse to create their own digital stories. Below is the showcase of their poetry film work!


BTL: Collaborative Digital Story created by the Chaperones



BTL: Identity and Belonging FILM SHOWCASE


BTL: Peace and the Writing Experience FILM SHOWCASE



Between the Lines: Identity and Belonging (June 20 - July 4, 2020) was sponsored through grant funds provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program and included 20 young writers from all over the U.S.

Between the Lines: Peace and the Writing Experience (July 11 - July 25, 2020) included 13 Americans alongside 29 young writers and 8 "chaperone" educators from 19 countries along the historic Silk Road – Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Georgia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Ukraine, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the 2020 Between the Lines (BTL): Peace and the Writing Experience session. BTL: Peace and the Writing Experience is hosted by the IWP in collaboration with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department.