Sister Cities Summer High School Exchanges

There are three amazing opportunities for Howard County high school students to travel abroad next summer and experience the life of a teen in one of Columbia’s three sister cities: Cergy-Pontoise, France; Tres Cantos, Spain or Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

Columbia Association offering student exchange trips to France and Spain in summer 2018

teen exchange button image

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 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.

This year’s participants will depart with their respective chaperoned groups for France or Spain at the end of June 2018. The program then runs through the end of July 2018.

The program fee is $700 for Columbia residents and $850 for nonresidents, excluding airline tickets. Airline tickets in summer 2018 will range from $1,100 to $1,400 per participant. Applicants must be high school students residing in Howard County and must 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 Application Packet includes detailed information about the program, a checklist, the Student Application, and forms to be completed by parents. The Application is due by February 16, 2018.

There are excellent scholarships available for Columbia residents who qualify. For more information, contact Laura Smit at 410-715-3162 or 

Summer Exchange Chaperones

Columbia Association is accepting applications for volunteer chaperones for its summer 2018 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 Exchange, 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 Exchanges. For more information and/or questions, contact Laura Smit at 410-715-3162 or

Sister Cities High School Student Exchange Presentation on France & Spain exchanges (see below)


Travel to Cap-Haitien, Haiti with the Build Haiti Foundation’s Global Leadership Program

image of group of studentsWant to make a difference and have an amazing experience this summer? Join the Build Haiti Foundation on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Haiti this summer (July 7-16).

Information Sessions for the Global Leadership Program will be held on Thursday, February 15 and Tuesday, March 20 from 7-8pm at CA Headquarters, 6310 Hillside Court, Columbia.

As a member of the Haiti Global Leadership Program, participants will experience Haitian culture, engage in interactive community leadership activities with Haitian students, and work directly with Haitian youth on strategies for addressing alternative energy, waste management, preventive medicine, vocational training and business initiatives.

Participants live with adult leaders in a house in the small village of Camp Coq, outside Columbia’s Sister City of Cap-Haitien, visit a health clinic, tour the city of Cap-Haitien and visit the capital of Port-au-Prince to learn about the urban challenges Haitian people face. They also help organize a soccer tournament with local youth; enjoy scenic beaches; visit the historic UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, the mountaintop fortress of Citadelle; visit local markets and restaurants and; listen to Creole music.

Alumni say:

“Being truly immersed in the Haitian culture was both an exciting experience and time to think about what matters to me.” (Drew Davis, 19)

“Haiti opened my eyes to what real poverty is, but on top of observing, I had the chance to meet and interact with Haitians who I still talk to today.” (Tim Davis, 17)

For more information, contact BHF president Bob Anantua ( or 443-285-3956) or David Weeks ( or 443-794-4302) or visit

France Teens Video (by Gabriel Ponniah)