Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship

Anatoli Rapoport

Dr. Anatoli Rapoport – Program Director

Anatoli Rapoport is Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University College of Education. Before he received Ph. D. in Social Studies Education, he had worked as classroom teacher and school administrator. Since 2003, Anatoli has been active in international educational programs. He organized and coordinated programs for teachers (Partners in Education, Civic Mosaics, Teachers to Teachers, Teaching Excellence and Achievement) and students (Educational Maymester in Russia, Educational Maymester in Northern Europe). He was Program Director of Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship at Purdue University (BFTF-Purdue) in 2013-2015.

Dr. Jeff Spanke – Program Administrator

“Hello! My name is Jeff Spanke, and I am thrilled to return to BFTF this summer. For the last three years, I have worked as an assistant professor of English Education at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, but before that, my family and I lived in West Lafayette for nearly 14 years. Having earned three degrees from Purdue University, I think it’s safe to say that I am very much a Boilermaker at heart. Since graduating fifth grade, I’ve also worked as an English teacher, athletic mentor, fitness instructor, parking garage attendant, semi-professional lawn mower, and totally underpaid baby-sitter. Oh, and I do theatre, too! I’m an avid lover of reading, writing, exercise, movies, Netflix, and listening to podcasts during my 100-mile daily commute. I’m looking forward to working with all of you soon; welcome and congratulations!”

Sarah Powley – Homestay Coordinator

Sarah Powley is an Instructional Coach with the Tippecanoe School Corporation. Formerly the English Department Chair at McCutcheon High School, Sarah was the founder and co-sponsor of the International Club, an extra-curricular organization that provides high school students with opportunities to learn about other countries and cultures and to carry out international service projects. For three years, Sarah led a student exchange program with a secondary school in Russia and has served frequently as the public school liaison for international educator exchanges at Purdue. She has traveled in Africa and Europe.

Dr. Asta Balkute – Administrator/Mentor

Dr. Balkute has been part of BFTF family since 2013. Born and raised in Lithuania, she is currently residing in Vilnius (Lithuania) and is the Head of Youth Services and Affairs Division at Vilnius City Administration and part-time associate professor in Vilnius University. She is interested in civic education, youth empowerment and development of teacher knowledge development. Dr. Balkute is a former elementary school teacher with strong emphasis on social justice and education for democratic citizenship. Dr. Balkute earned her Ph.D in social studies education at Purdue University in 2011 and served as Assistant Director at James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship (Purdue University) until 2015. While at Purdue University, Dr. Balkute taught undergraduate courses in social studies methods and introductory course in education. She has been involved in different international exchange programs at Purdue University and Europe and provided numerous professional development workshops on civic education. Prior to her Purdue experiences, she worked with teachers on civic education in Finland, Slovenia, Latvia and other European countries. Today, she develops and implements public policies for youth empowerment, youth engagement and works with over 200 youth organizations in Lithuania and the around the world. Her research interests include construction of civic identity, youth active participation and needs of marginalized youth population. Fun fact about Dr. Balkute – she loves children‘s literature and has published a children‘s book and consulted publishing company on publishing other 4 children‘s books.

Luka Ignac – Mentor

Luka Ignac is a B.A. student at the DePauw University, double majoring in Political Science and French. Luka’s previous intern positions include work in the political department of the Croatian Embassy in Washington D.C. and serving as a research assistant at UC Louvain. Currently, Luka is working as a Hillman intern at the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, and as a biweekly contributor to The Prindle Post, where he mostly focuses on writing opinion pieces centering on issues in the field of international security. Additionally, Ignac is a State Department Exchange Alumni, U.S. Embassy Zagreb Alumni, BFTF 2015 Alumni, Clinton Global University Exchange Alumni, One Young World Ambassador, and Global-In-Fellowship Alumni. Ignac has also took part in academic conferences presenting policy papers on: Consequences of Brexit for transatlantic relations, Advancement of the EU cybersecurity and cyber-deterrence efforts, Operationalizing European Global Strategy (published in RETA journal). Most recently, Ignac held a workshop and a presentation on the EU mediated dialogue at Harvard Kennedy School. Ignac also completed the UN Diplomacy Academy organized by Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Croatian Society for United Nations. Luka’s interests lie in the transatlantic affairs, with a specific focus on the EU and US security and defense policy cooperation.

Brianna White – Mentor

Brianna White is a senior in Social Studies Education at Purdue University. She is from Goshen, Indiana. This will be her first year with BFTF, but she has worked with a many student grouped before. She loves to rock climb in her free time, and was the student manager at the Purdue Rock Wall and Challenge Course for 2 years.

Kate Spanke – Residence Assistant

Hi! I’m Kate Spanke. This is my first summer with BFTF and I’m looking forward to being one of your RAs. I currently work as an Instructional Assistant in Special Ed for Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Fishers, IN. Prior to that, I had a 10-year career in university special events and fundraising at Purdue. I graduated from the University of Michigan with a dual major in French and Photography – both of which I still love to practice, in addition to yoga, spending time with family, being outside, reading, and teaching sewing classes.

Contact the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship
(765) 496-3029 or
Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education
100 N. University Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2098
Room 4176