YOUTH AMBASSADOR EXCHANGE – YAE!!
Since 2012, WCSCI has organized annual exchanges for 8th grade students to our two sister cities. The program is referred to Youth Ambassador Exchange or YAE!!, the two exclamation marks representing our two sister cities.
Students residing in Walnut Creek travel on a 10 day home stay with a family in one of our sister cities, Siófok, Hungary or Noceto, Italy. This is not a school organized program, however we keep the schools informed of the program dates and activities, and have been fortunate to work with supportive staff and administration. In addition to the student ambassadors, parent chaperone(s) and a teacher chaperone accompany the kids on this adventure of a lifetime!
The students get an opportunity to experience life as a teenager in another country, learn about a new culture, and gain experience in travel and independence. The student ambassadors are matched up with a host student and family, and become part of their family for a week. There are daily group activities organized by our hosts that provide our ambassadors with an opportunity to experience their culture. Examples of the actives include: visiting the school, meeting with city officials, learning about regional industries, visiting nearby sites and cities, and experiencing everyday life; such as bike riding with friends around town or going to the local market.
This is a 100% volunteer run program organized by current WCSCI members and participating students and families. All the families that participate are responsible for organizing host week for our friends that travel to Walnut Creek in the spring (typically in April). We have found that the participating families are always eager and excited to showcase our city to our friends, and return the hospitality their child received in the host cities.
The unique thing about this program is that it not only brings citizens of Walnut Creek together with our sister cities in Hungary and Italy, but it also brings our local community together.
Typically 20 students are selected each year, 10 travel to Siófok, Hungary and 10 travel to Noceto, Italy. WCSCI selects the ambassador delegations based on the following:
- Student must reside in Walnut Creek
- Online application
- Written application
- Student G.P.A. must be 3.0 or higher
- Teacher Evaluations
Ambassador Travel to the Host City
Travel generally occurs the last week of September/Early October. Travel dates vary from year to year based on the school schedules of all of the involved sister cities. The host week itinerary is planned by our host city and may vary from year to year. Our sister cities take pride in showing our delegations the riches of their city and country. Here is a write-up by one of our ambassadors to give you an idea of what their week involved.
Host Week in Walnut Creek
In the spring following our trip to the sister cities, our friends from Hungary and Italy travel to Walnut Creek, which we refer to this as Host Week. Host week is generally in April, and the timing varies based on school spring breaks and testing. Host week is planned entirely by the parents and students from the delegations. WCSCI members are there to support and guide the parents, and there are many resources from prior years to work off of. Each year, the planning seems to get easier and easier as new groups make adjustments and improvements. It truly is a community effort!
We are look forward to re-starting the program after a 4 year hiatus due to COVID-19 and hope to send a cohort of 8th graders in the fall of 2023. The application information will be available at our Mandatory Informational Meeting in January 2023. Please check back here to get the details.