Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellow Summer Institute

Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute  June–July 2020

Hosted by Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana
Deadline for submitting the Application Form is February 3, 2020

Program Background
The initiative is named after the legendary American statesman and diplomat Benjamin Franklin.  In today’s terms, Franklin was a transatlantic man, someone whose career, interests, studies and life took him back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, bringing Americans and Europeans closer in understanding. Franklin’s life offers inspiration to young citizens of today in the effort to bridge the Atlantic.  As a diplomat and a printer, he leveraged the powers of diplomacy and of the media to explore how Americans and Europeans see each other and the world.

Goals of the Institute
– to develop a commitment to transatlantic cooperation;
– to foster relationships between American and European youth from different ethnic, religious, and national groups;
– to promote mutual understanding between the United States and Europe/Eurasia;
– to develop a cadre of youth leaders who will share their knowledge and skills with their peers through positive action.

The four-week Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute enables 16-18 year old secondary school or gymnasium students to participate in intensive activities such as training sessions, workshops, community-based programs, study tours, and cultural events. Participants will work together on a joint project that presents and promotes the stated goals and objectives of the Institute.

Before and during the Institute, students will gather information on young adults’ views about one or two areas of common or global interest, such as sustainable development, inter-ethnic cooperation, or human rights.  The program will also provide the participants with a new perspective on mass media and how they learn about each other and the communities they live in, and the broader media culture.  This will include training on the critical reading of printed, broadcast, and electronic media and the ability to judge the content and accuracy for themselves.  Training will cover communication and presentation skills, problem solving, and team building. Community service activities, social and cultural activities, and home stays with American families will deepen the participants’ experience of U.S. society during their exchange.

Recruitment/Candidate Profile
Applicants 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.  English fluency is required.

It is important that applicants have exhibited serious interest in pursuing leadership opportunities in their home countries, and demonstrate a genuine desire to learn first-hand about the United States, its people, society, and institutions. It is also very important that nominees 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, participants 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.

Candidate profile:

  • born between June 22, 2001, and June 22, 2004 (i.e., be 16, 17, or 18 years of age at the time of the program start);
  • highly proficient in English;
  • committed to enrolling in high school or university in their home countries
  • demonstrate strong leadership potential and interest in transatlantic relations and diplomacy;
  • indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States;
  • demonstrate  a high level of academic achievement, as indicated by academic grades, awards, and teacher recommendations;
  • demonstrate a commitment to community and extracurricular activities;
  • have had little or no prior U.S. study or travel experience in the United States;
  • mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful and inquisitive;
  • willing and able to fully participate in an intensive summer program, with community service and educational travel;
  • comfortable with campus life, shared living accommodations, travel and interaction with a multinational, co-ed group of participants from across Europe and the United States;
  • comfortable engaging with the Americans they meet in the host communities; and
  • able to adjust to cultural and social practices different from those of their home countries.

Funding and travel:

  • Costs for all U.S.-based activities will be covered by the organizers and hosts in the U.S.
  • International travel and pre-departure costs will be covered by the U.S. Embassy or home country partners and /or sponsors secured by the embassy.
  • Participants will be covered by ECA’s Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) health benefit program, which will not cover routine examination or pre-existing conditions. Individual travel and luggage insurance is recommended.
  • All embassies will provide a pre-departure orientation to the accepted Fellow(s) to review the details of the program, cross-cultural issues, travel and financial matters.  Since many participants will be minors and will be traveling from their home country alone, the U.S. grantee organization will provide adult chaperones who will accompany participants on flights between one or two European airports to the location of Summer Institute and back.

Deadline for submitting the APPLICATION FORM is February 3, 2020
via e-mail at


Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship Program
Frequently Asked Questions:

a. What degree of English proficiency should a nominee have? All participants must be highly proficient in English; throughout the institute they will need to fully understand lectures, actively participate in discussions, and read and write assignments in English.

b. Can we nominate an individual who is not a citizen of the nominating post country? Yes. However, the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship is a program designed to further mutual understanding between U.S. citizens and Europeans. If you wish to nominate someone who is not a citizen of the nominating country, please explain clearly on the application the reasons for the nomination.

c. My nominee has been to the U.S. before; would he/she be disqualified?
No. Nominees with very minimal experience in the United States may be considered for the program. However, priority should be given to nominees with no previous experience in the United States. If you find it necessary to nominate a candidate with previous U.S. experience, please be sure to clearly indicate the purpose of the nominee’s visit to the U.S., the year it occurred, and the length of his/her stay, as requested on the nomination form.

d. My nominee will be fasting during Ramadan. How will this impact his/her participation in the program? Participants who will be fasting during Ramadan are still expected to fully participate in the program. Participants must be aware of the rigorous nature of the program and the expectation of full participation in planned activities. Some activities such as community service and site visits may take place outdoors in high temperatures and humidity. Participants should be aware of the challenging nature of the program, especially in locations that experience long hours of sunlight. For example, in the northern United States, the sun rises around 5:30 am and sets around 9:30 pm.

e. How much free time will a participant have during the program? There will be some limited free time during the program. However, nominees MUST understand that this is an intensive academic program and they are expected to fully participate in all lectures, activities, site visits, and scheduled events.

f. If a nominee has relatives in the U.S., would he/she have time to see them? Participants will NOT be allowed to leave the institute to visit relatives or friends. Occasionally it is possible for a relative or friend to visit the participant on a specific day designated by the host institution, if the schedule permits. These situations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the ECA program officer and the host institution.

g. How important it is to nominate a gender-balanced group? Very important! We strive to have the best possible diversity and gender balance in the institute.
h. Can a participant arrive early/late or stay after the Institute? No. Participants who choose to travel to the United States on a Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship are required to abide by the J-1 visa rules. Participants may NOT arrive in the United States before the program start date or remain in the country after the close of the institute.

i. Can a participant miss one part or component of the Institute? No. All participants are expected to participate in all scheduled lectures, events, site visits, trips, and activities.

j. How much money will participants need to bring for the program? ECA will cover all basic costs of an individual’s participation in the U.S. based exchange. Generally, the host institution will provide meals through a combination of a cafeteria meal plan and a pre-loaded debit card for use at local restaurants. Information on housing and meal arrangements will be provided by the host institution prior to the start of the institute. Participants should not expect to receive any spending money from the institute. Participants should bring their own spending money if they wish to purchase souvenirs or other items during their time in the United States.

k. One of our BFTF alumni has a sibling who would like to apply for the BFTF program. Can he/she apply? Priority will be given to nominees who are unrelated to past BFTF participants. Posts should make every effort to recruit and nominate candidates from widely diverse areas and backgrounds.

l. Will applicants with disabilities be considered? Yes, the Youth Programs Division welcomes nominations for individuals with disabilities. We are committed to working with WFU to arrange reasonable accommodations for all participants. Notification of a disability will not negatively impact selection. We ask that you identify disabilities during the nomination process so that we can begin working with WFU to ensure appropriate accommodations.