Sister Cities Summer High School Exchanges


Columbia Association offering student exchange trips to France and Spain in summer 2020


kids who attended exchange trip in france

Become a student ambassador by participating in one of Columbia Association’s annual Sister Cities High School Student Exchanges. Spend two weeks in July living with a teen your age, then host the same teen here for two weeks. Immerse yourself in another culture, living with a family in France or Spain, improve your French or Spanish language skills and have fun while exploring new places and connecting with international students your age!

Teen participants in the annual Sister Cities High School Student Exchange Program spend approximately two weeks of cultural and linguistic immersion during the summer in one of Columbia’s European sister cities: Cergy-Pontoise in France or Tres Cantos in Spain. During this time, they are hosted by the family of a French or Spanish student. After returning to the United States, students will then host their French/Spanish counterparts for another two weeks. Throughout the trip, there are organized group activities for the participants, both abroad and in the U.S.

Participants in the summer 2020 Exchange will depart with their respective chaperoned groups for France or Spain at the end of June. They will return to the U.S. two weeks later. The Spanish and French teens will arrive two days later and the program then runs here until July 31, 2020.

The program fee is $700 for Columbia residents and $850 for nonresidents, excluding airline tickets. Airline tickets in summer 2020 will range from $1,100 to $1,400 per participant. Applicants must be high school students residing in Howard County who have completed high school level three of French or Spanish by the end of the current academic year (or have the equivalent language fluency).

The Sister Cities High School Student Exchange Program Application Packet includes detailed information about the program, a checklist, the Student Application, and forms to be completed by parents. The application deadline has been extended to March 13, 2020. Teachers, coaches and other adults who have been asked to provide a recommendation for a student can do so via this Sister Cities Recommendation Form.

There are excellent scholarships available for those who qualify.

For more information, contact Program Manager, Laura Smit at 410-715-3162 or

Summer Exchange Chaperones

Columbia Association is accepting applications for volunteer chaperones for its summer 2020 Sister Cities High School Exchange. Adults over age 21 who speak fluent Spanish and French (as well as English) accompany each group of students to France and Spain. Chaperones attend, supervise and participate in all organized group activities, both abroad and in the U.S. Chaperone plane tickets are covered. Chaperones must participate in both parts of the Exchange: in France or Spain and here in Columbia/Howard County.

The Chaperone Application Packet provides an overview of the requirements to be a chaperone for the Sister Cities High School Student Exchange Program, as well as the Chaperone Guidelines and Responsibilities. HCPSS middle and high school Spanish and French language teachers are encouraged to chaperone the Sister Cities High School Student Exchange Program. For more information, contact Laura Smit at 410-715-3162 or The application deadline is March 23, 2020.


Young artist contest

Sister Cities International Art Contest

Create art, win prizes, and have a chance for your artwork to be showcased around the country. It’s an artist’s dream come true, and it’s open to all Howard County teens between the ages of 13-18.

The 2020 Sister Cities International Young Artist Competition is an annual contest that encourages youth worldwide to express the mission of Sister Cities International through original artwork.

You’re invited to create an original piece of art illustrating your vision of this year’s theme — “One World: Out of Many, We are One.”

Keep reading below for more information on how to enter and what you can win. Visit to learn more about Sister Cities International.

How to enter:

  • Must be original in creation and design.
  • Must center around this year’s theme: “One World: Out of Many, We Are One.”
  • Can be any two-dimensional medium, including watercolor, oils, pastels, pen and ink, colored pencil, etching and charcoal.
  • Must be unframed and no larger than 24 inches by 36 inches, including matting.

Due date:

Drop off entries from February 1-March 9 at Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Long Reach Village Center. Click here for the entry form.


  • First place: $100 Columbia Association gift card. Your art will be entered into the Sister Cities International competition. The winner of the worldwide competition wins $1,000 and will have their artwork displayed in sister cities around the United States in a yearlong tour.
  • Second place: $50 CA gift card
  • Third place: $25 gift card

Note: CA gift cards can be used towards any Columbia Association class or service, including at Columbia Art Center. May not be used for CA memberships or purchasing tickets.