U.S. Student Information

Are you interested in meeting young people, ages 16-18, from Central and South Asia, such as India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan?

Do you have an interest in building cross-cultural relationships and learning more about global issues and the role of a free press and the Internet in a democracy?

Do you enjoy hands-on learning, community service and adventure?

If you answered yes, yes, yes, then you are invited to apply for participation in the Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute with South and Central Asia (BFSI), to be held June 24 – July 20, 2012 at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA (near Washington, DC).

Applications due March 30, 2012 – APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED

The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) at George Mason University (GMU), in partnership with the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT) have 10 scholarships available for American students to attend the 2012 Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute with South and Central Asia. These Scholarships include the following:

  • Designation as a Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute with South and Central Asia Fellow  (which covers tuition, activities, meals and lodging in a GMU dorm, travel costs up to $400 to/from GMU depending upon distance traveled, and a $100 stipend)
  • Participation in all Institute events, including classes and interactive activities covering the following themes: (1) Culture, Conflict and Cooperation; (2) Democracy and Governance; (3) International Relations and Diplomacy; (4) the Environment and Sustainable Development; (5) Mass Communications and Media, including computer-training and how to create blogs and video/audio podcasts; (6) Leadership Skills; and (7) Community Service, taught by GMU and ACT, as well as visiting faculty
  • Weekly fields trips to Washington, DC, including visits to the State Department, Capital Hill, and museums such as the Newseum, and other historical and cultural sites
  • One-day educational trip to Philadelphia, with visits to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, etc.
  • Two-day educational trip to New York City, with visits to the United Nations, Ground Zero, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and various cultural sites, etc.
  • Social, cultural and recreational activities, including July 4th festivities, a cultural night, talent show, sports, and other local activities

If selected, you will be one of 45 Fellows on the GMU campus. Your classmates will be 35 students from South and Central Asia and 9 other competitively-selected Americans. Participants will arrive at GMU on July 24, 2012 and depart on July 20, 2012. See the downloadable Calendar_2012_v3 (draft) for more information. In addition to the scholarship benefits described above, the Fellows will live with a host family for ten days of the Institute. All host families are carefully screened and provided an orientation about the program and their responsibilities. You will meet your host family at a special reception. The host family experience will provide you with another opportunity to gain a cross-cultural experience.

The program will be intensive, academic, and highly interactive. We seek energetic applicants who are ready to develop their skills in order to be effective leaders in their schools and communities.


Students who may apply are those who:

  • will be at least 16 years old and not more than 18 years old by the start of the Institute
  • are U.S. citizens or are permanent resident aliens with a green card and have lived in the U.S. for over ten years
  • do NOT live in the Washington, DC metropolitan area
  • are proficient in the English language
  • have basic computer skills
  • demonstrate strong leadership potential and interest in global issues, international relations and diplomacy, and building cross-cultural relationships
  • agree to participate fully in all BFSI program activities, including a pre-Institute Orientation (via phone), all Institute activities, and post-Institute follow-on activities (such as conducting workshops to share what you’ve learned with peers)
  • have permission from parents/guardians to participate in the entire program.


Applications due March 30, 2012

A complete application includes the following:

  1. Official Application Form for U.S. students, with Sections A-E fully completed
  2. At least one letter of recommendation from the list of two people you provided in Section E. The letter can be submitted via (1) fax directly to the address below, or (2) emailed to the email address below, with “US Application – Recommendation – Your Name”, in subject heading.

Please choose one of the methods below to apply for the program.

Email: franklin(at)gmu.edu (with “US Application – Your Name”, in subject heading).

Fax: 703-993-1302

Please fill out the application as carefully and completely as possible in English. The information you provide on this application will provide the basis for selecting semi-finalists for this program.

Announcement of Semi-Finalists – April 6

Phone interviews of Semi-finalists – April 9 – 13

Announcement of 2012 Fellows – April 17

Selection Criteria:

  1. Strong academic achievement. Those in the upper 25% of their class will be favored.
  2. Record of participating in high school/college activities or community civic activities
  3. Essay quality – statement of candidate’s interest in global issues, building relations across cultures, and appreciation of the Ben Franklin program.
  4. Strong recommendations
  5. Telephone interview with Semi-Finalists. Selection panel members will have a 10-15 minute conversation further exploring the candidate’s reasons for joining the program
  6. Committee will look for a balance including geographical, ethnic, and socio-economic representation.


For more information, visit the BFSI website at http://www.bfsia.wordpress.com, or contact Mr. Thanos Gatsias, the Co-Director, at 703-993-9405 or via email at franklin(at)gmu.edu (please type in “U.S. Applicant Inquiry” in the subject heading) and he will return your call/email to answer any questions you may have.

A Program Sponsored by the Youth Programs Division, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State and the Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Embassies


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