By Jacqueline Risch
Experiencing new cultures, tasting new foods, and meeting new people – ah, traveling! What’s not to love? Traveling exposes you to a whole other perspective aside from your home in Tempe, and now it’s possible for all juniors in Tempe with Tempe Sister Cities!
I am one of the lucky students at Tempe Prep participating in this program. Tempe Sister Cities is a nonprofit organization that sends residents of Tempe to their 12 sister cities across the globe for summer trips, conferences, and more. This summer, I will be traveling to Cuenca, Ecuador for five and a half weeks! I found out that I have been partnered with a “brother” in Ecuador, and his name is Andy. Andy loves playing the guitar and wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Another fellow Tempe Prep student, Stella Lovelady, is also participating in the Tempe Sister Cities program.
“I’m traveling to China!” Stella exclaims. “I’m most excited for the entire experience, honestly. The food will be amazing, the cultural experience, seeing all the sights. I’ve never been to Asia, so it will be completely different.”
Once delegates return from their countries, we also have the opportunity to show our brother or sister around Tempe, travel around the state, and even have a big California trip! Personally, I am thrilled about getting to show Andy the Grand Canyon, and the state of California!
Stella is also very excited about “being able to spend quality time with my sister. While I’m in China, my sister will be in school most of the time, so I’ll probably get to know her better when she’s here.”
Senior A’ser Mostafa participated in Tempe Sister Cities last year and recalls one of his favorite memories from the trip. “I accidentally fell asleep in the Grand Canyon trail, and my friends came up to me and started waking me up. One of the Irish kids said something funny like ‘we thought you died, man.’ The whole thing was just very funny.”
After completing the program, A’ser recounts the amount of contact he still has with his “sister” from the program. “We talk about every day, every other day, and I plan on going back to Macedonia,” he says.
Lots of past delegates remain in contact with one another, send Christmas cards to their families, and even travel back to the country they stayed in to see their host families again!
To get into the Tempe Sister Cities Program you have to participate in three different interviews: a beginning interview, a parent interview, and a final interview with a social night for you and the other candidates to interact with one another in between. During these interviews you are asked a series of personal and political questions. For example, Stella had to answer questions like “have you ever been peer pressured, what would you do as president, and what would your host family say about you after you leave.” A’ser had to study up on “the migrant crisis, gun control, the war in Syria, and the US foreign policies.”
At the end of the interview process, you are asked to give a two-minute speech about one of the 12 sister cities. The trick is that you don’t know what city you will have to present about, so it is imperative that you study all 12. However, once you get in the program, it will all be worth it; you are in for the summer of a lifetime.
And to all those sophomores who are nervous about applying next year and traveling to a foreign country, A’ser suggests to “just kick back on the plane, enjoy the snacks, watch a movie, and just realize you are there ultimately to have fun, that your sibling is very excited to meet you, and they really want to have a good time with you.”
Applications for the 2020 summer exchange will be open in the fall of this year so mark your calendars, sophomores! You won’t want to miss this opportunity!
Article by Jacqueline Risch, a student staff writer for De Equitibus, Tempe Preparatory Academy’s student newspaper.
About Tempe Prep: Tempe Preparatory Academy is a tuition-free public charter school in Tempe for students in grades 6-12 that provides a nationally acclaimed liberal arts education based on the Great Books of Western Civilization with an exceptional math, science, foreign language, humanities, and fine arts curriculum. Tempe Prep has been recognized by the Arizona Board of Regents as having the highest percentage of college graduates in the state and has been named the #1 high school in Arizona by Newsweek (America’s Top High Schools 2016). For more information about enrolling at Tempe Prep, visit the school’s website at tempeprep.org.