About the Author: Dawn Griffin is an Exchange Program Specialist in the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
On Monday, July 12, the State Department hosted participants in the 2010 Summer Institute for Youth, a program under the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellow Initiative. This group consists of 50 students aged 16-18 from across Europe and the United States. For many of the international students, who were selected for the fellowship by the U.S embassies in their home countries, this was their first trip to the United States.
The Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute, sponsored by the Department's Bureau of Educational Affairs and administered by Wake Forest University, offers young students from Europe and the United States an opportunity to build relationships and encourages awareness of our shared values. As the visit to the State Department showed, it is also a great way for these students to engage in a dialogue about the many pressing issues facing our transatlantic community.
As part of their fellowship, they enjoyed a morning program at the State Department coordinated by the office of Professional and Cultural Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA/PE) and the office of Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR/PPD).
The fellows began their morning with an address by directors of both offices about the role of the State Department in the United States government. Throughout the rest of the morning, the participants had the opportunity to meet and question diplomats on a wide range of topics. They met with representatives of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs to discuss climate change and water issues, and they discussed diplomacy between the U.S. and Europe with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Spencer Boyer. Following these broader discussions, the fellows broke into regional sub-groups and met with Deputy Directors and Public Diplomacy desk officers with experience in their respective geographic regions to talk more specifically on regional issues.
Images of the Fellows' trip to the State Department can be found on their website.