On the Journey 

news reel: stories of People, places, and learning AT Aspen Country Day School
Sister Cities exchange in Middle School: a global way to "broaden your world view"
Posted 04/02/2018 06:13PM

"A life-changing experience." That's what World Languages Teacher Maria Carbonetti, ACDS's liaison to the Aspen Sister Cities program, calls the Middle School student exchanges that happen each year. While some of this year's Eighth Graders are just returned from their exchange trip to Chamonix, France, a new set of students recently learned that they'll have the honor of representing our school and our town in faraway lands during next year's exchanges. Congratulations to:

  • Oliver H. and Riley R. to Abetone, Italy
  • Stella S. and Carolina A. to Bariloche, Argentina
  • Benton H. to Shimukappu, Japan

Along with students from Aspen Middle School and the Aspen Community School, these current Seventh Graders will be hosting an exchange student at home for about 10-12 days next year, then traveling to that person's home for about the same length stay.

To apply, students submit an essay and have an interview; it is an honor to be chosen. Many apply, but only 5 to 15 students per exchange are selected. Students must make a real commitment to learn some of the language, culture, and customs of their host families, and to provide a warm welcome to their visitors in these one-to-one exchanges.  The program is ideal for Middle School students, says Maria. At this age, they are "just starting to form their own world view. It is really eye-opening for them."  Students pay $2,750 for the trip, and they are required to earn at least $350 – on their own – for trip costs. Scholarships are available.

ACDS has been a partner in this program for many years, and dozens of students have traveled to these sister communities. Many Country Day students are still in touch with their host families from years ago. The exchanges to Japan have been going on for more than 20 years!

"Even though there are chaperones, the students are kind of on their own in terms of getting to know their host families and finding their way in a new culture," Maria adds. "It is an important proving ground for them – to find out that they can do this, to navigate their way in a different culture, with different histories and points of view, makes them more reflective. It broadens their thought process."

Whenever an exchange group comes to town, a visit to Aspen Country Day School is on the itinerary. It is exciting to meet students from our sister cities! Next up, students from Bariloche visit campus next Tuesday, April 10. If you see them, be sure to say "Bienvenido!"

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