by Claudia Kean
Lyons students, are you tired of the same old summer job? Wondering how you can make your time off from school more interesting and exciting than you ever dreamed? You can have a truly life-changing experience, make friends for life in far away places, and open doors to new careers through the Longmont Sister City Student Exchange Program.
Lyons residents are eligible for this cultural exchange opportunity that applies to all St. Vrain Valley School District students and parents.
As a Lyons resident and parent, I was fortunate to be selected to go to Japan as a chaperone with seven students from various high schools in St. Vrain School District. This program takes student “ambassadors” to two cities: Ciudad de Guzman in Mexico, and Chino, Japan. Longmont Sister Cities Association has a 21-year relationship with Chino, Japan, in Nagano Prefecture. This town of about 55,000 is nestled in a beautiful river valley within a ring of mountains, and is an outdoors paradise with hiking, skiing, and hot springs. The ancient culture of Japan lives on in the modern world in Chino.
Ciudad de Guzman in Jalisco, Mexico, also has a long friendship with our area. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside, and is known for its art, cathedrals, and fabulous food. It is not far from Guadalajara, where students take a day trip and explore the sights and culture. This type of travel is the best way for young people to learn about the greater world. They will stay with host families, learn to work well as a group, and absorb real culture far beyond what an average tourist would experience.
The deadlines for application are approaching, and Lyons should be represented; after all, we have some of the most accomplished, friendliest, and most capable students in the state of Colorado.
Here is the information you need to get started. LSCA will select four chaperones and 16 students for its 2012 Student Exchange Program. Two chaperones go to each country with about 8 students, although the number going to each country changes a little from year to year. The trip will be in late July and early August. When the two groups of students return from the ten days abroad, they bring with them students from those countries and their chaperones for ten days of adventures around our area. Bonds then form between people of all three cultures. And by the way, you do not need to speak the language to go! The people of these countries will bend over backwards to help with anything you need. Application forms for both chaperones and Student Ambassadors are online at www.longmontsistercities.com, and are available in the City Manager’s Office, 350 Kimbark Street, in Longmont.
Criteria and Deadline Information:
Chaperone applicants must live and/or work within the boundaries of the St. Vrain Valley School District but do not need to be employed in the public schools. They must be willing to begin orientation sessions following student selection. Although this is a very time consuming project and adventure, it is also a very rewarding opportunity to work with some of the finest students in the St. Vrain Valley School District area. Chaperone applications are due in the City Manager’s Office by 5 p.m., Friday, January 6, 2012. If you are just now hearing about this, and wish to apply, please call Jeanie Finley at (303) 772-4620.
Student ambassador applications are due in the City Manager’s Office by 5 p.m., Friday, January 20, 2012. Student ambassador applicants must be currently enrolled in grades 8 through 11. Applicants must reside in the St. Vrain Valley School District attendance area or attend a public, private, or charter school within the boundaries of the school district. Students must be outgoing, flexible, and interested in other cultures. Students and their families must be willing to commit much of their summer to the exchange program.
Some financial aid to help with travel costs may be available. Students selected as Longmont Ambassadors will participate in fundraising activities and weekly orientation classes during the spring and summer prior to the trip in late July and early August.
To learn more about the Student Exchange Program and Longmont Sister Cities Association, please plan to attend the LSCA Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 7 p.m., in the City Council Chambers in the Civic Center, 350 Kimbark Street. The 2011 Ambassadors to Ciudad Guzman, Mexico and Chino, Japan will share their experiences with pictures. Refreshments will be served.
For more information about the Longmont Sister Cities Student Exchange Program, please contact Jeanie Finley, Exchange Coordinator, at (303) 772-4620.