Ben Franklin Transatlantic Fellows: Summer Institute for Youth Program

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria is now accepting applications for the 2023 Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship. The program is scheduled to take place in-person from June 24 to July 22, 2023, contingent upon the feasibility and safety of in-person programming, which we will continue to monitor.

The four-week program addresses U.S. foreign policy priorities such as youth engagement, democracy and civil society development, and economic prosperity. It will be hosted by Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. One Bulgarian high school student will be selected to represent Bulgaria on the program. All costs of the participant will be covered.

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 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 program, 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 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 the U.S. Mission Youth Council, American Corners or American Spaces, and exchange alumni associations.

Candidates 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 significant knowledge of and 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.

Participants will travel to the United States on J-1 visas.

Eligible candidates for this fellowship will:

  •  be Bulgarian nationals;
  •  be born between June 24, 2005, and June 24, 2007 (i.e., be 16, 17, or 18 years of age at the time of the program start);
  •  be highly proficient in English;
  •  be committed to enrolling in high school or university in their home country in fall 2023, following completion of the program;
  •  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;
  •  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 willing and able to fully participate in an intensive summer program, community service, and active educational travel program;
  •  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 with engaging various Americans in the broader community; and
  •  be able to adjust to cultural and social practices different from those of their home countries.

COVID-19 Information: the host institution requires that all participants be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a vaccine approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prior to travel to the United States.

The program is Currently closed.