The Student Exchange Program is at the heart of Sister Cities International’s mission of creating bonds between people from different cities around the world. In addition, the program benefits host families and even local school communities. Students frequently report that their “twinning” experiences are “life-changing,” and they often make friendships that last a lifetime!
Four students from several Chandler high schools were selected to travel to Chandler’s Sister City of Tullamore, Ireland in June, and then returned with students from Tullamore for a 10-day stay in Chandler in July. Our students served as Youth Ambassadors for the City of Chandler, while interacting with their host family in Tullamore, where they were immersed in the Irish culture. The Chandler students and their Tullamore “twins” are Sarah Fuller and Anita Watkins, Sophie Looney Abney and Olivia Summerville, Luke Ryan and Cillian Fogarty, and Cole Stewart with Jonny O’Connor. Before the Exchange began, Sarah Fuller commented, “I am looking forward to bonding with my Tullamore student. I will strive on my trip to grasp a thorough perspective of the differing aspects of our two lives.”
The host families from Chandler and Tullamore planned activities with their own student and their “twin” student. “Together we will be introduced and experienced new adventures and participated in activities that increased cultural understanding and educational exchanges,” noted Sophie Looney Abney. While here, they engaged in trips and activities to give the Irish students the best representation of Chandler and Arizona culture. And of course the visit was complete with a Fourth of July Celebration at an AZ Diamondbacks game complete with fireworks!
Among the activities for the “twinned” students in Chandler were tours of GoDaddy, the Irish Cultural Center, the Basha Collection of Western American and American Indian Art, and a fun-filled evening at Chandler’s ImprovMania. The Chandler and Tullamore students were greeted by Chandler’s Mayor Jay Tibshraeny at the July 9 Chandler City Council meeting.
Stay tuned for information and application for our 2019 Student Exchange, which will be open to students ages 15-17 who either reside in Chandler or attend school in Chandler.