International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC)

2020 ISLC and SMTW Postponed

Operation Smile Peru and Operation Smile Student Programs have closely monitored the developing situation regarding COVID-19 in conjunction with our International Programs and Medical Oversight teams. The safety of our students and chaperones are our main priority. Operation Smile has decided to postpone the 2020 International Student Leadership Conference to July 2021 and the Summer Mission Training Workshop to a later date to be determined.

2020 International Student Leadership Conference

All participants will have the following options to choose from regarding their registration for 2020 ISLC:

Option A: Defer registration to 2021 ISLC at El Pueblo Resort in Peru in July 2021 (tentatively scheduled for July 12-18, 2021). An email will go out to deferred participants once the date is confirmed. There will be an opportunity to cancel deferment if the confirmed dates do not work for the participant.

Option B: Cancel 2020 ISLC registration and receive a refund of the registration fee. Please allow for at least two weeks for us to process the requested refund.

Seniors for the 2020-2021 academic year: You will still be eligible to attend 2021 ISLC even though you will graduate by June 2021, so the option to defer is available to you.

Team Leaders: You will be ineligible to apply for 2021 ISLC as a Team Leader if you graduate in June 2020; however, we encourage you to stay involved and take part in the Step UP university symposium that is scheduled for January 2021. More information will be available here.

Assistant Team Leaders: You will need to reapply to 2021 ISLC as an Assistant Team Leader to express your interest in this position once registration for this conference opens up again in August.

Please choose your option with this link by Monday, April 20.

If you have additional questions regarding 2020 or 2021 ISLCs, please email We ask for your patience as our staff works through these inquiries.

2020 Summer Mission Training Workshop

Summer Mission Training Workshop (MTW) will be postponed to a later date to be determined. As the MTW associate works through the planning of this program, they will reach out to you with more information. All MTW fees will be refunded. Please allow for two weeks for the staff to process all refunds.

If you have additional questions regarding the MTW, please email We ask for your patience as our staff works through these inquiries.

U.S. Regional Summits

In an effort to still create opportunities for our students to learn more about global health, Operation Smile Student Programs is diligently working on creating regional summits in areas with a high student participation demographic. They are tentatively being planned for August and, pending the status of COVID-19 in the United States, they will be either in-person or virtual. We will heavily rely on 2020 Team Leaders and Assistant Team Leaders to help us plan and execute these events. A Regional Associate will reach out as the summit planning begins to gauge interest in supporting this leadership opportunity.

We appreciate every student and supporter of Operation Smile Student Programs and look forward to when we can all come together again.

Be well,

— Student Programs

Each year, Operation Smile hosts its International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) at a different university around the world. This annual conference helps students develop and strengthen their leadership skills and character, provides training on how to help those in developing countries, as well as exposes them to different cultures. Current high school freshman, sophomores and juniors are invited to attend this weeklong leadership conference. Attendees will hear inspiring speakers share their insights on the topics of leadership, overcoming obstacles and what it means to make a difference; they’ll also meet like-minded people committed to making a difference in the lives of children with cleft lip and cleft palate.

What: #islc2021

Who: Current high school freshman, sophomores and juniors as of Sept 2020 are invited to apply.

When: July 2021

Where: Lima, Peru

Registration Fee:

Students: $1,000 USD (includes accommodations, meals, ground transportation to and from airport and items associated with conference activities, but does not include airfare to and from Lima or visa, if applicable) $250 non-refundable fee due at registration, $250 non-refundable fee due on January 10 and remaining $500 fee is due on February 3.

Adult Chaperones: $750 USD (includes accommodations, meals, ground transportation to and from airport and items associated with conference activities, but does not include airfare to and from Lima or visa, if applicable) $250 non-refundable fee due at registration and remaining $500 fee is due on February 3.

Once the deadline for application has come to a close, all applications will be sent to a review committee. The review goes through several rounds and final decisions will happen in early November. All those are who accepted will be emailed a registration link by November 15. Invited participants will have 72 hours to register and secure their spot with a $250 USD non-refundable deposit. For those who do not receive an email on November 15, you will be placed on a wait list. Invitations for ISLC will be sent through February 1st or until we reach capacity.

It is imperative that the email contact used in the application is one that the participant has access to and checks frequently.

It is highly encouraged to complete your application prior to October 18 to be considered for the November 15 invitation round. 

There is a character limit of 255, not including spaces. The review committee is looking for the applicant’s ability to effectively communicate their essay answers within the parameters provided. If the review committee has additional questions regarding the applicant’s applications, he or she will reach out directly to ask for more information.

Please read through the FAQ section prior to applying.

2020 ISLC Student Application










NOTE: If International, please select N/A from the drop down field.





Essay Questions: Please answer the following questions.






  255 character limit (excluding spaces)
   Please leave this field empty


Applications for adult chaperones are available here.

The conference would not be possible without our student leaders! We invite you to apply to one of our leadership positions to enhance your skills and share them with your peers.

Team Leaders are typically students who have previously attended ISLC, served as an assistant Team Leader and have a prominent role in their clubs.

Assistant Team Leaders support the Team Leaders and have previously attended ISLC as a participant.

Applications for these positions will open in late September 2020.  

Below are frequently asked questions regarding ISLC. If you have additional questions, please reach out to

Q: What does the registration fee include?

A: The registration fee includes accommodations, meals, ground transportation to and from Lima airport and items associated with conference activities. Each participant will have a bed with lines, but it could be a twin bed, double bed or sofa bed. Some dietary restrictions can be accommodated which should be noted in the health form, but if you have a very strict diet, please reach out prior to applying.

Q: Will participants have their own room?

A: All participants, including chaperones, will share a room with 1-2 other participants. Operation Smile fosters a community of cultural exchange, so we create the rooming roster to allow for that experience. Roommate requests is not be honored.

Q: What does arrival and departure to and from the conference look like?

A: By submitting your travel information, we group arrivals into blocks as well as departures. We will have staff and student leaders at the airport to greet and prior to the conference, directions on where to meet at the airport. Participants are then led to our privately hired buses to take them to campus.

Q: If I have to book my own travel, how do I know if anyone else is on the same flight?

A: During registration, there will be an option to share your information with other participants. If you choose yes, your contact information will be shared with others from your geographic area. It will be up to the participants and their families to communicate with the others to determine if you would like to be booked on the same flight. Operation Smile does not provide chaperoning of students from their home airport to Lima, Peru.

Q: What is Unaccompanied Minor on a flight and will I have to book my ticket with that?

A: Unaccompanied Minor is a special feature on an airline ticket where there’s an additional cost for a child under a certain age to travel alone. Costs and age cut offs are determined by the airline, so check with your specific airline. Some may force you to purchase this option if your child is under a certain age to be able to travel internationally. This feature also requires an assigned guardian to physically drop the child off at the gate and another assigned guardian to physically pick up the child at the arriving gate.

Q: Will I need a passport?

A: All participants will need a valid passport to enter Peru. Passport must be valid from six months upon entry (does not expire prior to February 2021).

Q: Will I have to get a visa to enter Peru?

A: If your country of residence requires a visa to enter Peru, that responsibility will be on the participant to secure. We will ask for documentation of a valid passport and visa (if applicable) in the required forms packet for attendance. Visa invitations letters will be provided upon request to provide to your embassy and/or visa application.

Q: How are applicants chosen?

A: Unfortunately, the venue has a max capacity. In order to create a diverse experience, applicants will be chosen not only from their leadership experience, but also, their geographic location. Spots are very limited and we encourage you to put your best foot forward in your application. All applications will be reviewed by a committee against a rubric of standards and applications are reviewed against the global pool of applicants.

Q: Is there a wait list if I do not get accepted?

A: Yes, there will be a wait list. Invited participants have 72 hours to register and if they do not, we will move down the wait list until we reach capacity.