Best Summer Vacation (2008)

Phoenix Sister Cities Youth Ambassador Program

Diversity for many Valley teens means going to a mall and watching the world walk by. But some kids are lucky enough to escape town for the summer. Some ambitious adolescents will go far.

In 1972, Phoenix joined the Sister City movement and hooked up with Hermosillo, Mexico. Since then, Phoenix has linked with nine cities from China to the Czech Republic. Here's where your kid comes in: Teens in their sophomore or junior years of high school can apply for a spot in a Sister Cities program that will allow them to live with a host family in a faraway land for three weeks.

In turn, you later host a teenager from another land. Sister Cities pays for half of the travel expenses, though further financial assistance is available. Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, Peoria, Queen Creek, and Tempe have similar and equally successful programs. (Check your city's Web site for details.) Both parent and child will be shouting, 'Free, free at last!' — for at least three weeks.


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