Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship

Group of students with raised hands riding a bus. (Photo Credit: State Department)
Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Summer Institute

Summary
The four-week Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute will accommodate up to 45 European and ten American Fellows, ages 16 to 18.  The program addresses U.S. foreign policy priorities such as youth engagement, democracy and civil society development, and economic prosperity.  Activities include discussion of global issues of common interest, leadership and media training, collaborative project development, community service, educational travel, and plans for follow-on activities.  The Institute will take place in June and July 2017; exact dates will be communicated at a later time.

Program
The Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute fosters relationships among young Europeans and Americans, building strong linkages and an awareness of shared values.  The program addresses U.S. foreign policy priorities such as youth engagement, support for democracy and civil society, and economic prosperity.  The goals of the Institute are:

  • to develop a commitment to transatlantic cooperation;
  • to foster relationships between American and European youth from different ethnic, religious, and national groups; and
  • to develop a cadre of youth leaders who will share their knowledge and skills with their peers through positive action.

The Summer Institute will enable teenagers, ages 16-18, to participate in an intensive, four-week exchange program in the United States that focuses on global issues facing both European and American youth.  The Institute will focus primarily on an exploration of issues through interactive activities, practical experiences, and other hands-on opportunities.  Participants will learn more about democratic practices, volunteer service, conflict resolution, problem solving, communication skills, critical thinking, tolerance and respect for diversity, youth leadership, team building, and the media.  The Institute also explores how freedom of expression both provides rights to and imposes responsibilities on citizens.  Fellows will participate in a variety of activities such as training sessions, workshops, community-based programs, study tours, and cultural events.

Community service activities, social and cultural activities, and homestays with American families will deepen the Fellows’ experience of U.S. society during their exchange.

After the Institute, in addition to implementing service projects in their home communities, the Fellows will present what they have learned as well as an alumni project plan to a youth-serving or youth-centered organization in their home country.  These may include U.S. Mission Youth Councils, American Corners or American Spaces, and exchange alumni associations.

Program Host:  Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Participant Numbers
U.S. Embassy Reykjavik will nominate one principal and one alternate candidate for the Institute.  The participants must travel on a J-1 visa and therefore holders of U.S. passports are ineligible to be nominated by U.S. Embassy Reykjavik.  The Department of State will approve candidates.

Funding
Funding for all U.S.-based activities, in-country and international travel expenses will be provided by the Department of State.

Travel Arrangements
U.S. Embassy will be responsible for making all travel arrangements and providing international airline tickets for their participants to Greensboro Airport in North Carolina in the United States.

Since many participants will be minors and will be traveling from their home country alone, the U.S. host institution will provide adult chaperones to accompany participants on flights between one or two European airports to the United States and back.

Alumni
U.S. Embassy will follow up with the participants after the U.S. Institute and support them in alumni activities appropriate to the program goals.  The U.S. host institution will also provide long-distance support to alumni.

Recruitment/Candidate Profile
English fluency is required.  Nominees should have a strong interest in learning more about diplomacy, the transatlantic relationship, the role of a free press in a democracy, and public or community service.  They should have a strong demonstrated interest in communications, advocacy, debate, or civic participation.  They should have the academic aptitude for a program of this nature and personal qualities needed to be successful participants, including maturity, strong social skills, flexibility, and open-mindedness. These factors are particularly important given the diverse group atmosphere of the Institute.

Nominees must exhibit serious interest in pursuing leadership opportunities in their home countries, and demonstrate a genuine desire to learn first-hand about the United States and its people, society, and institutions.  Nominees must also understand that, if selected, they will be expected to fully and seriously participate in all program components during the month, as well as in follow-up activities afterward in their home countries.  In addition, nominees should be ready to inform and educate Americans about the cultures and societies of their home countries in non-structured gatherings and in public presentations.

Fellows will travel to the United States on J-1 visas.  There will be no fees incurred for the visa application or for SEVIS.  The Department of State will also provide travel health benefits through its Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE).

Candidate Qualifications
a. Be 16, 17, or 18 years of age at the time of the program start;
b. Highly proficient in English, as demonstrated in a personal interview or the results of a standardized test;
c. Committed to enrolling in high school or university in their home countries in fall 2016, following completion of the Institute;
d. Demonstrate strong leadership potential and interest in transatlantic relations and diplomacy;
e. Indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States;
f. Sustained high level of academic achievement, as indicated by academic grades, awards, and teacher recommendations;
g. Demonstrate a commitment to community and extracurricular activities;
h. Have had little or no prior U.S. study or travel experience in the United States;
i. Be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful and inquisitive;
j. Willing and able to fully participate in an intensive summer program, community service, and active educational travel program;
k. Comfortable with campus life, shared living accommodations, travel and interaction with a multinational, coed group of participants from across Europe and the United States, and comfortable with engaging various Americans in the broader community.  Able to adjust to cultural and social practices different from those of their home countries.

If you are interested, please submit
– A completed application;
– A letter of interest – please include a description of your past and present contributions to your community;

by Friday, March 2, 2018 to reykjavikpublicaffairs@state.gov