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Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute

Application period is now closed.


Photo of a group of students standing in front of the Capitol building with text "Go to the United States with Our Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship"

The U.S. Embassy in Finland is now accepting applications for the 2023 Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship summer exchange program for upper secondary school students.  The institute is hosted by Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and the program will last four weeks from June 24 to July 22, 2023.  One Finnish student will be selected to represent Finland in the program.  All participant costs will be covered.

Activities will include discussions on global issues of common interest, leadership and media training, collaborative project development, community service, educational travel, and follow-on activities.

Program Background

The Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF) empowers and fosters relationships among the younger generation of Europeans and Americans to build strong linkages and an awareness of shared values.  The initiative is named after the legendary American statesman and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin, in honor of the inspiration his own life and career provides to those who are working to strengthen transatlantic cooperation.

Institute Description

Approximately 45 European and ten American teenagers ages 16-18 will participate in this intensive, four-week exchange program focused on common challenges that youth on both sides of the Atlantic face in the 21st century.

The program will consist of a series of lectures, seminar discussions and presentations, and a variety of faculty- and mentor-led workshops.  Participants will also be taught to develop plans for follow-on activities.

The students 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, disinformation, and the media. The participants will also explore how freedom of expression both provides rights to and imposes responsibilities on citizens.

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 the program.


The program is funded by the U.S. Government.  A full scholarship will be provided for participants, which covers visa, travel, lodging, educational materials, ground transportation expenses, and travel insurance.

Participants will travel to the United States on J-1 visas and will have to be able to meet all travel requirements applicable at the time of departure.

Candidate Qualifications

  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of Finland
  • Be born between June 25, 2004, 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 studies in Finland 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
  • Sustained 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, 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, and be comfortable with engaging with various Americans in the broader community.
  • Be able to adjust to different cultural and social practices.

 The in-person on-campus exchange is contingent upon the safety and feasibility of in-person programming and travel.  A virtual program option may be available if in-person programming is not possible due to the global health pandemic.

Application Requirements and Procedure

The selection process will be conducted by U.S. Embassy officials and is merit based.  One principal and one alternate candidate will be selected based on their application submission and interview.  Phone interviews with selected candidates will be conducted during weeks 8 and 9 in February – March, 2023.

Please submit the following information via e-mail as one PDF document to USHelsinkiExchanges@state.gov:

  1. Your personal information: name, date of birth, telephone number, and email
  2. A one-page essay where you demonstrate how you meet the program qualifications, explain why you are interested in the program, and describe why you would be a good candidate for the program
  3. An optional letter of recommendation in English.  The letter of recommendation can come from teachers, volunteer organizations, or other individuals that can speak to your qualifications for the program

 Deadline for applications: February 19, 2023.

More information on the program https://www.education.purdue.edu/ben-franklin-institute/fellows/