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FACT SHEET: Student and Youth Exchange Programs between the United States and France

The United States and France have a long history of cultural exchange, dating back to the connections forged by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as two of the United States’ earliest envoys to Paris.  Our exchange programs strengthen academic partnerships, promote the value of community service, and spark entrepreneurship and innovation.  We put special emphasis on building connections between French and American youth from different backgrounds. 

Fulbright:  In 2013, the Franco-American Commission for Educational Exchange celebrated its 65th anniversary by launching the Fulbright International Educators program, which brings key decision-makers from U.S. academic institutions to France to discuss cooperation and opportunities for student exchange.  Since 1948, approximately 20,000 American and French students and scholars have participated in the Fulbright program.  Prominent French alumni include philosopher Jacques Derrida; writers Eugene Ionesco, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Nathalie Sarraute; and Dr. Christian Cabrol, who performed Europe’s first heart transplant.  Well-known American alumni include composer Philip Glass, writer Ursula LeGuin, poet John Ashbery, and Nobel Prize winning physicist Charles Townes.  The France Fulbright Alumni Association is helping to recruit the next generation of Fulbright students and scholars.  

Youth Ambassadors for Engagement:  The U.S. Department of State and the French National Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunity support the Youth Ambassadors Program, which connects young people working for positive change in their communities.  The program reaches a diverse group of French youth ages 16-25 and includes leadership training and a two-week visit to the United States.  The Department of State’s Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has committed $100,000 to expand this program in 2014, increasing the number of French and American participants.

Mission Interuniversitaire de Coordination des Echanges Franco-Américains (MICEFA):  Through MICEFA, France, with U.S. support, provides need-based scholarships for French students to study at universities in the United States and provides assistance and enrichment activities for American students studying in France.

Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program in France:  The French Ministry of National Education funds an international Language Teaching Assistant Program, which offers young graduates from the United States the opportunity to work in France for seven months, teaching English to French students of all ages.  Each year, more than 1,100 American citizens and permanent residents teach in public schools across all regions of France.

Partner University Fund (PUF):  Established in 2007, PUF is a collaboration between the French government and American private and corporate donors to support academic partnerships between French and American institutions of higher education.  PUF promotes three-year university academic and research partnerships at the graduate and post-doctoral levels of study and has awarded five grants for the 2013-2016 cycle.  This innovative program supports joint research, mobility of professors and students, dual degrees, and shared curricula in all disciplines.

U.S.-French High School exchanges:  In 2014, the Department of State will provide $50,000 to the French Ministry of National Education “MOU” program, which promotes exchanges between French and U.S. high schools.  In recent years, hundreds of American and French students have forged lasting connections through this program.

FLAME (France Los Angeles Media Exchange):  In its fourth year, FLAME is a multi-faceted partnership exchange program that creates a unique opportunity for young talents and emerging professionals in the field of digital arts and media production projects, such as animated film, to build transatlantic ties with leading companies in Los Angeles, French partners, and the U.S. Embassy in Paris.  This program, supported by the U.S. Department of State, the Region of Ile de France, and corporate donors provides its participants (6-8 per year) with practical experiences that contribute to their professional development.

Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute:  Since 2006, the U.S. Embassy in France nominates French students for the Institute.  Each session brings together 35 students, ages 16-18, from across Europe together with 10 American participants for an intense four-week trip to the United States focused on leadership and global issues in a transatlantic context.

Private Exchanges:  Thousands of French and American university students participate in study abroad exchange programs each year, and those numbers are increasing.  In the 2012/2013 academic year, 8,297 French undergraduate and graduate students studied in the United States.  In the 2011/2012 academic year, 17,168 American students studied in France.  Additionally, France and the United States have hundreds of sister city relationships that promote people-to-people exchange and connect French and American businesses.

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