Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 1, 2010

The U.S. Department of State has named Kenneth Sydhagen of Norway, an alumnus of the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Summer Institute (BFTF), as State Alumni Member of the Month. Throughout September, his leadership and promotion of mutual understanding will be recognized on the State Alumni website (, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ official site for the more than one million alumni who have participated in a Department-sponsored exchange program. Each month, the Bureau’s Office of Alumni Affairs, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, confers the award on an outstanding alumnus or alumna.

Following his BFTF exchange experience in 2008, Sydhagen was elected chair of The International Youth Network of Akershus County Council. In order to promote mutual understanding and encourage youth leadership in his local community, he organized an international youth conference including speakers from the United States, the European Union and Norway.

In 2009, Sydhagen introduced his school administrators to the public affairs staff of the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, who together established an English language program for high school students of minority backgrounds. He also helped establish an exchange program for students and faculty between his high school in Lørenskog and a U.S. high school in Idaho.

In fall 2009, Sydhagen initiated the “Young Ambassadors” program. Together with fellow alumni from the BFTF and the Fulbright Summer Institute for Outstanding European Students, he organized and managed a youth program for high school students seeking leadership education beyond that which their schools offer. Sydhagen drew upon his BFTF experiences to develop a seminar series where, from January to April 2010, the students practiced skills in public speaking, debating, networking, project management and career planning. The participants grew more confident and outspoken as a result of the program. One of the students went on to participate in the BFTF program and another in the Fulbright Summer Institute for Outstanding European Students.

Sydhagen, who currently studies law at the University of Oslo, credits the BFTF program with providing him “lifelong friendships, invaluable knowledge and great memories.”

For more information, visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ website at

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns,, phone (202) 632-6437

PRN: 2010/1190