SAINT AUGUSTINE – A student exchange program between Aviles, Spain and St. Augustine is being reinstituted in 2020.
The exchange program, supported by Sister Cities Association of St. Augustine and the City of St. Augustine, was begun in 2001 but was suspended in 2016 because of Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Consuelo Lippi, Sister Cities of St. Augustine Past President and current Student Exchange Coordinator, announced the revival of the student exchange program which is primarily for sophomores and juniors in St. Johns County schools. The Student Exchange Program is designed so approximately 10 students from the St. Augustine area travel to Aviles and spend two weeks in mid to late June with a Spanish family that has children of approximately the same age. Then in early July those Spanish students come to St. Augustine to spend two weeks with the family of the student who lived with them in Aviles.
Not only do the students have excursions in both Aviles and St. Augustine to learn about the history and culture of each area, they also live in a home with a family from another culture which is an important learning experience, said Lippi. She added that living in a foreign country is often an eye-opening experience that often can change lives. The students and their parents pay their own travel and personal spending money while the host families take care of the room and board. Students from both cities are accompanied by adult chaperones.
Although fluency in Spanish is not a pre-requisite, the Association strongly encourages participation of students interested in improving their Spanish and students who might be interested in learning Spanish. St. Augustine and Aviles have been sister cities since 1963. St. Augustine was founded by Pedro Menendez who was from the Aviles area in northern Spain. So being Sister Cities with Aviles is a historically logical connection, said Lippi. Any interested students and parent should contact Consuelo Lippi at firstname.lastname@example.org