Are you a Swiss citizen or resident, between 16 and 18 years old, and interested in intercultural exchange? Yes? Then get ready to apply for the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship. The Fellowship is a State Department-funded, intensive, short-term exchange program created to foster relationships among young Europeans and Americans to build strong linkages through our shared values.
Students between the ages of 16 and 18, who are Swiss citizens or permanent residents of Switzerland, and who have a good command of English have the exceptional opportunity to apply for the Summer Institute, which will take place from June 22 to July 20, 2024. The Summer Institute will be hosted by Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Successful candidates demonstrate strong leadership qualities, have a high level of academic achievement, are civically engaged in their communities, and are confident, open-minded, and tolerant. Please scroll to the bottom of this message to for full information on eligibility criteria.
All costs are fully covered. The application deadline is February 11, 2024.
The four-week institute will focus on U.S. foreign policy priorities such as youth engagement, democracy, civil society development, and economic prosperity.
For any questions, please contact BernPA@state.gov.
How to apply
- Students should complete the following form: https://forms.gle/gsdiKP9cvey72Q9o6
- Students will need to upload a letter of motivation and at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher to complete the form.
All costs are fully covered. The application deadline is February 11, 2024.
The Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship is an intensive short-term exchange program, created to foster relationships among young Europeans and Americans to build strong linkages and awareness of shared values. The four-week program will enable students, ages 16-18, to explore U.S. foreign policy priorities such as youth engagement, support for democracy, civil society development, 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 program, participants also will 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, disinformation, and the media. The program will 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 U.S. Mission Youth Councils, American Spaces, and exchange alumni associations.
Program Requirements and Restrictions
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 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 made aware that the program is very intensive and that there will be no time for personal pursuits unrelated to the program. Participants will travel to the United States on J-1 visas, under the International Visitor government designation held by ECA/PE/C/PY. There should be no fees incurred for the J-1 visa application. Participants are not allowed to arrive in the U.S. prior to the start date of the program or to remain in the U.S. after its end date. Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.
English Language Ability: All candidates must have strong English skills so that they can actively participate in the program. Purdue University will take into account that the level of comprehension and speaking ability of participants may vary and will prepare lectures and discussions that meet the highest academic standards while using language appropriate for those whose first language may not be English.
Candidate Description and Qualifications
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.
Candidates nominated for this Fellowship must:
- be born between June 22, 2005, and June 20, 2008 (i.e., be 16, 17, or 18 years old at the beginning of the program);
- have Swiss citizenship or residence permit C. U.S. citizens are NOT eligible;
- be highly proficient in English, as demonstrated in a personal interview or the results of a standardized test;
- 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;
- be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful and inquisitive;
- be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive summer program, with community service and educational travel;
- be 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;
- be comfortable engaging with the Americans they meet in the host communities; and
- be able to adjust to cultural and social practices different from those of their home countries.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the plans for BFTF if health and travel disruptions continue through the summer due to the global health pandemic? Should the program organizers determine that conditions do not allow for an in-person U.S.-based exchange, they would work with the implementing partner, Purdue University, to transition the 2024 program to a virtual platform.
- Will COVID19 vaccinations be required to participate in the program? There are currently no COVID restrictions.
- The nominee has been to the United States before; would they be disqualified? No. Nominees with minimal experience in the United States may be considered for the program. However, priority will be given to nominees with no previous experience in the United States.
- 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.
- If a nominee has relatives in the U.S., would they have time to see them? Participants will NOT be allowed to leave the program to visit relatives or friends. Occasionally it is possible for a pre-approved visit 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.
- Can a participant arrive early/late or stay after the program? 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 program.
- Can a participant miss one part or component of the program? No. All participants are expected to participate in all scheduled lectures, events, site visits, trips, and activities.
- How much money will participants need to bring for the program? The program 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 program. Participants should not expect to receive any spending money from the program. Participants should bring their own spending money if they wish to purchase souvenirs or other items during their time in the United States.
- Will applicants with disabilities be considered? Yes, we welcome nominations for individuals with disabilities. We are committed to working with Purdue University 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 Purdue University to ensure appropriate accommodations.