IOWA CITY, IA — Livingston High School student Gracie Zhang is currently participating in the International Writing Program’s (IWP) “Between the Lines: Peace and the Writing Experience” session at the University of Iowa, where students from around the world are studying writing together with award-winning writers until July 27.

Following a competitive application process, Zhang was one of only 10 Americans selected to participate in the two-week program along with 29 students from 17 countries along the historic Silk Road, including Jordan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Georgia, Russia, Lebanon, China, Azerbaijan, India, Egypt, Iraq, Armenia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

According to the IWP, Between the Lines (BTL) is a prestigious creative writing and cultural exchange program for students ages 15 to 18 and is held in Iowa City, which is know as a UNESCO City of Literature. IWP hosts the program in collaboration with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department.

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Over the next two weeks, students will participate in global literature seminars and intensive creative writing workshops, and have an opportunity to give a public reading of their own work.

BTL faculty include prize-winning authors Asli Perker (Turkey), one of four members of the peace committee of PEN International; Yuriy Serebriansky (Kazakhstan), editor of the Polish diaspora magazine Ałmatyński Kurier Polonijny and alumnus of the IWP’s Fall Residency; Armen Ohanyan (“Armen of Armenia”) President of PEN Armenia and alumnus of the IWP’s Fall Residency; and Dora Malech (United States), professor of poetry at Johns Hopkins University and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

According to Ohanyan, participating students will have the opportunity to “come across the most important things: new cultures, new environments, new relationships, and a chance to see [themselves] in a new light.”

“We welcome students to the homecoming party far away from home," said Ohanya. 

Since 1967, IWP has hosted more than 1,500 writers from more than 150 countries, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, publishing books and journals, pursuing cultural diplomacy, and organizing tours, conferences, and other literary and intercultural events around the world.