The Youth Ambassador Exchange Program is an immersive cultural experience for high school sophomores and juniors. Students will spend a year serving as youth ambassadors where they will engage in a multitude of events and activities to build global proficiency.
Pandemic permitting, they will have the opportunity to spend 2-3 weeks abroad in the sister city they are paired with. They will then host their foreign counterpart in Arizona for 2-3 weeks.
Sister City and Counterpart Selection
City assignments are made when finalist are selected and are announced at a ceremony that takes place approximately 2 weeks after selection. The selection panel puts significant time and energy into choosing the best city for each ambassador.
Ambassadors are paired with their international counterparts in the spring before they travel abroad. Pairs are introduced about a month before departures begin.
Throughout the spring, Ambassadors attend three “Academy Sessions.” At these sessions, Ambassadors receive training from alumni, volunteers, committee members, and professionals on topics ranging from culture shock to social media professionalism to diplomacy and cross cultural communication.
Ambassadors are required to participate in two fundraisers during the spring that help fund July hosting activities in Phoenix. Ambassadors and their families are not required to donate funds to these fundraisers, but are asked to support fundraising efforts.
Prior to their departure, Youth Ambassadors must attend the Phoenix Sister Cities committee meetings for the sister city to which they are traveling. Learn more about our city committees here.
Pandemic permitting, during June, Ambassadors will spend 2-3 weeks in their assigned sister city. They travel with a cohort of 2-5 Youth Ambassadors, but are not accompanied by program staff. Youth Ambassadors are home-hosted by their counterpart’s family and learn about local culture, government, holidays, foods, and activities.
Phoenix Hosting Calendar
Youth Ambassador families host their teenager’s foreign counterpart for approximately 3 weeks in July. During this time, Phoenix Sister Cities hosts a series of activities to introduce the international ambassadors and their counterparts to Phoenix, Arizona, and the United States. Activities typically occur on weekdays, with weekends free for families to enjoy together. All activities are mandatory for Youth Ambassadors and their counterparts.
Youth Ambassador Responsibilities
– Attend all program dates in Phoenix.
– Fundraise for July activities.
– Obey all laws of the United Sates and the host country.
– Be sensitive to cultural differences and not offend the religions, customs or politics of their host country.
– Assume the responsibilities of a family member while abroad.
– Participate in as many activities as possible to learn about life in that community.
– Act as hosts to their international counterpart during July.
– Stay involved with Phoenix Sister Cities for a full year.
– Support their child’s selection as a Youth Ambassador.
– Support their child’s training and fundraising efforts.
– Attend the first Academy Session.
– Attend the Parent Meeting in June.
– Host a foreign Youth Ambassador for three weeks during July and welcome this teenager into your family.
All Youth Ambassadors and parents/guardians are required to enter a contractual agreement upon being selected for the program. Please review the agreements to fully understand the requirements associated with the YAEP.
YAEP Code of Conduct and Contracts
Each selected Youth Ambassador is responsible for obtaining a valid passport and must provide a copy of their passport to the Phoenix Sister Cities office. Staff make arrangements for visas if required. The Maricopa County Passport Office is located at 601 West Jackson Street, Phoenix, (602) 506-6350.