Throughout the year, ASCA’s five Sister Cities propose a series of cultural and student exchange programs.
ASCA participates in a national program run by the American Cultural Exchange Service, a nonprofit organization contracted by the U.S. Department of State to promote global understanding through international educational exchange experiences.
Aachen programs include:
The Sister City relationship between Arlington and Aachen dates to 1993.
In 2019 we are celebrating 25 years of the first high school exchange!
Elementary School Family Exchange
Next Outbound Elementary School Exchange: April 2 – 9, 2020
Next Inbound Elementary School Exchange: Fall 2020, dates TBD
The Aachen Committee annual series of elementary school exchanges. The program promotes international awareness and mutual understanding through age-appropriate activities and out-of-classroom learning. Heidi Addison coordinates this flagship program of the Aachen Committee. Students from Aachen, accompanied by at least one parent, visit Arlington in October, where they are welcomed by Arlington host students and their families. 5th-graders from Arlington Elementary Schools make the reciprocal visit to Aachen, where they are hosted by the families that had stayed with them the previous fall. The visit includes tours of the historic cathedral and town hall, a day at a German school, visits to Cologne and Brussels, sports games, group meals, and receptions.
Outbound: Arlington Students Travel to Germany
Next Outbound High School Exchange: June 20 – July 8, 2020
Each summer Arlington students and their chaperone(s) travel to our sister city Aachen and Berlin, the German capital for the outbound portion of the exchange. During the two-week residence in Aachen the Arlington students are hosted in a German teenager’s home and will experience typical daily life in a way few tourists ever get to see. Each day will feature both organized group activities such as visits to nearby historical and cultural sites, sporting events, bicycling and a team-building rope climbing course. Students will get to spend ample free time socializing with new German friends and their families, especially on weekends.
Students spend the last three days in Berlin, where they stay in a youth hostel in the center of town, take bicycle tours, ride the U-Bahn, and visit the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, German parliament, and some of the city’s most famous museums and galleries.
The estimated cost of the trip ranges from $1,900 to $2,300 and covers airfare, travel insurance, ground transfers, three nights of lodging in Berlin, daily excursions in and around Aachen and Berlin, and the chaperone’s travel expenses. The final amount will be determined when the number of participants and the cost of the flights are finalized.
View the Program Overview and Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.
For more about outbound program contact AachenArlingtonExchange@gmail.com.
Inbound: German Students Visit Arlington
Tentative Dates of Next Year Inbound Visit: October 7 – 20, 2020
German students and adult chaperones visit Arlington for two weeks in October. Aachen students are hosted by Arlington high school students and their families. On weekdays the German students tour the major museums and other cultural attractions in Washington, D.C. and learn about American life. On weekends they participate in their host family activities. At the end of their stay in Arlington, they travel to New York City and spend last three days of their U.S. trip touring the Big Apple.
For more information about the inbound program contact AachenArlingtonExchange@gmail.com.
Reims programs include:
Middle School Exchange Program
Most recent Middle School Exchange took place on March 19 – 30, 2019
Students and teachers from the College Schuman in Reims visited Arlington and were hosted by families representing five middle schools across the county. The visiting students spent two full days attending school with their host siblings and experienced typical family life in Arlington’s special neighborhoods and communities. The group also visited the major tourist attractions of Washington, D.C.
High School Exchange Programs
The Reims committee organizes the exchange with Lycée Marc Chagall in Reims, France.
Past Outbound Trip to Lycée Marc Chagall, Reims – March 22 – 31, 2018 (24 Arlington, VA students to Reims, France)
- have previously hosted students on ASCA Reims Exchanges
- are currently studying French or who have studied French in the past
- have excellent teacher recommendations
- meet requirements for travel
Teacher and Student Collaboration via Skype:
Reims Committee member Katy Wheelock, a French teacher and department chair for world languages at Wakefield High School, continues an innovative online collaboration she began in 2013 with Francoise Fauquembergue, an English teacher at Lycée Chanzy from Charleville-Mezières in the Reims region. Students in their respective classes also shared videos through Google Docs in which they practiced their language of study and discuss how the lives of teenagers are both similar and different in France and the United States. In the summer of 2017, students from Arlington were able to visit at Lycée Chanzy, attend a special reception, and tour the campus and classrooms. Online collaboration will continue this year with French 4 students at Wakefield High School who will Skype, write letters and complete projects in conjunction with English students of the same age at Lycée Chanzy. This new 3-year project will culminate in Fall 2020 when the students from Lycée Chanzy come to visit Wakefield students who will be in their senior year.
Interested in hosting a student from France?
If you are interested in hosting an exchange student from Reims, France, please click here to view information and an application.
The Reims Committee works with Arlington’s other sister cities to propose thought provoking events, panels and discussions on historical events, and/or current issues.
Ivano-Frankivsk programs include:
High School Exchange program:
The Ivano-Frankivsk Committee organizes student exchanges to bring Ukrainian high school students and chaperones to Arlington for a ten-day visit in October. The visitors arrive in Arlington to be welcomed by host families. The itinerary in Arlington include a full day attending an Arlington public high school, football games and homecoming dances, and tours of the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress, George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, Luray Caverns, and many other sites. When possible the group also participates in joint activities with students from the Aachen and/or Reims Exchange programs as well as a meeting with members of the Arlington County Board.
The Ivano-Frankivsk Committee sponsors film screenings and panel discussions regarding current issues and/or cultural Ukrainian events.
High School Homestay Exchange
ASCA Local Coordinator: Daphne Lathouras
The High School Homestay Exchange program is an opportunity for ASCA to host a student from one of our sister cities for a year or semester of high school in Arlington.
This is a wonderful opportunity to help a young person experience life and culture in the U.S. The program is at the heart of ASCA’s mission of creating bonds between people from our sister cities and the people of Arlington. In addition, the program benefits host families and local school communities. Students frequently report that their experiences are “life-changing”, and indeed they often make friendships that last a lifetime.
One of our sister cities chooses the high school student, who must be between the ages of 15 and 18 1/2 on the first day of school.
The sponsoring sister city must have an International Coordinator to interview the student and determine if the student will be a good fit for the program, conduct language testing to ensure that the student has English proficiency necessary to complete a semester or year in an Arlington high school (English Language Test for International Students – ELTiS) and assist the student and their family with the required paperwork. All fees are paid by the exchange student’s family.
A U.S. State Department-designated sponsoring organization that is endorsed by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) ensures that ASCA’s Local Coordinator is certified by the Department of State and adheres closely to the rules and regulations that are in place to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of each HSHE student. The sponsoring organization processes the J-1 secondary school student visa. Once the sponsoring organization approves the student for the HSHE program, the Local Coordinator recruits a host family. The sponsoring organization must also approve the host family. The Local Coordinator works with the local school to ensure that there is a place for the student in the school. Once the HSHE student is in the United States, the Local Coordinator serves as the liaison with the high school, provides oversight and support to the exchange student and host family, and includes the student in ASCA activities as appropriate.
As per Arlington Public Schools Policy, ASCA has one seat per year for a student from one of our Sister Cities. The student may attend one of the three comprehensive high schools. (25-4.1 APS Foreign Exchange Student Programs). In the past we have been able to split the school year between 2 students with each student staying in Arlington for one semester and not overlapping.
American Cultural Exchange Service is our sponsoring organization for the High School Homestay Exchange program.
You can learn more about the High School Homestay program by visiting the Sister Cities International website at https://sistercities.org/HSHS
If you are interested in learning more about hosting a student or helping a student from one of our sister cities apply to come to Arlington, please contact Daphne Lathouras, Local Coordinator at ASCAHighSchoolHomestay@gmail.com.
Application deadlines are based on the timeline provided by the sponsoring organization.
ASCA requests that our Sister Cities present formal requests for students interested in participating in the High School Homestay Exchange at the September board meeting. At that time the board will confer and determine which student(s) will be accepted into the program for the following school year (i.e. – September 2021 is the deadline for students interested in the 2022/23 school year). The Sister City must have an International Coordinator in place to conduct the language testing and manage the paperwork for the exchange.
ASCA High School Homestay Program History
ASCA Local Coordinator: Daphne Lathouras (June 2013 – present)
Prior to June 2013 Jennifer Rohling Wright served as ASCA Local Coordinator
Academic Year 2018-2019
Blanche Le T. (Reims) fall semester – 11th grade – Wakefield High School
Marie H. (Aachen) spring semester – 10th grade – Yorktown High School
Academic Year 2017-2018
Lenny T. (Aachen) fall semester – 11th grade – Washington – Lee High School
Lennart B. (Aachen) spring semester – 10th grade – HB Woodlawn
Academic Year 2016-2017
Iris B. (Aachen) fall semester – 10th grade – Yorktown High School
Insa O. (Aachen) spring semester – 10th grade – Yorktown High School
Academic Year 2015-2016:
Academic Year 2014-2015
Jo Henri B. (Aachen) fall semester – 10th grade – Yorktown High School
Annika S. (Aachen) spring semester – 10th grade – Yorktown High School
(both students had participated in the Arlington-Aachen Elementary Exchange and were hosted by their former exchange families)
Programs currently inactive:
San Miguel programs included:
Miss Sister City:
The San Miguel Committee runs an annual English-language summer school in July for approximately 120 students in San Miguel. Mrs. Kim Crittenden, ESOL/HILT teacher at Abingdon Elementary School in Arlington, and Mrs. Arlene Rodriguez of San Miguel serve as principal faculty for the program. The municipality of San Miguel provides transportation for the teachers, lunch for the students, as well as a festive graduation ceremony at a local school. The San Miguel Committee also grants scholarships to four students selected by the teachers for outstanding academic performance.
Girls’ Soccer Tournament:
The San Miguel Committee organizes a one-day women’s soccer tournament in San Miguel during the same period as the English language instruction. Eight teams composed exclusively of girls compete in the event, which is designed to increase opportunities for girls and young women to participate in team sports in the country. This event also provides an opportunity for soccer coaches and players from Arlington—especially those working with girls’ teams within the Arlington Soccer Association—to transmit not only soccer skills but the civic values of inclusion and sportsmanship to their counterparts in El Salvador.
Coyoacán programs included:
High School Exchange Program:
The Coyoacán Committee sponsored its first outbound student exchange in June 2015, students from Gunston Middle School, accompanied by one teacher and two other adults, visited our sister city of Coyoacán, Mexico. The Arlington students lived with host families and explored major sites of historical and cultural interest in Coyoacán and surrounding localities. The organizers used this pilot program to identify additional local schools as potential partners for future inbound and outbound student exchanges.
Dia de los Muertos:
The Coyoacán Committee helps organize the Arlington Arts Center’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), an event that takes place each year on November 1. The Day of the Dead celebrates the lives of loved ones who have passed away through music, dancing, traditional foods, and an art exhibition. The committee helps recruit artists who exhibit their works at the event.