Ben Franklin Transatlantic Fellows: Summer Institute for Youth Program

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria is now accepting applications for the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute for young Americans and Europeans. The program will take place in June and July 2017.  The institute will be hosted by Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. All costs of the participants will be covered.

The Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute is an intensive short-term exchange program whose purpose is to foster relationships among young Europeans and Americans to build strong linkages and an awareness of shared values.  The four-week program will enable teenagers, ages 16-18, to explore U.S. foreign policy priorities such as youth engagement, support for democracy and civil society, and economic prosperity.  The program will consist of a series of lectures, seminar discussions and presentations, and a broad assortment of practical, faculty- and mentor-led workshops.  The coursework and classroom activities will be complemented by community service activities, site visits, social and cultural activities, and homestays with American families to deepen participants’ experience of U.S. society during their exchange.  

During the academic residency, participants will also have the opportunity to discuss other topics such as democratic practices, conflict resolution, problem solving, communication skills, critical thinking, tolerance and respect for diversity, youth leadership, team building, and the media.  The Institute will also explore how freedom of expression provides rights to and imposes responsibilities on citizens.  Upon their return home, participants will implement service projects in their communities and present an alumni project plan to a youth-serving or youth-centered organization in their home country.  These organizations may include the U.S. Mission Youth Councils, American Corners or American Spaces, and exchange alumni associations.

Candidates must exhibit demonstrable interest in pursuing leadership opportunities in their home countries, and convey a genuine desire to learn about the United States and its people, society, and institutions.  They are expected to fully participate in the academic program and the follow-on activities afterward in their home countries.  They should attend all lectures and organized activities, complete assigned readings, and be ready to share their culture with Americans.  They should be aware that the Institute is very intensive and that there will be little time for personal pursuits unrelated to the program.  All candidates must be proficient in English.

All candidates are expected to have a strong interest in learning about diplomacy, the transatlantic relationship, the role of a free press in a democratic society, and public or community service.  They should have a strong demonstrated interest in communications, advocacy, debate, and or civic participation.  They should have the academic aptitude for a program of this nature and the personal qualities needed to be successful, including maturity, strong social skills, flexibility, and open-mindedness. 

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