Fort Worth has a brand-new set of ambassadors ready to explore the globe.
At a city council meeting Feb. 18, Mayor Betsy Price admitted 88 ambassadors into Fort Worth’s Sister Cities program — an international network whose goal is to “promote Fort Worth globally and enrich [the] community through international education, exchange and commerce, creating a more peaceful and prosperous world.“
Mae Ferguson, the president and CEO of Fort Worth Sister Cities International said students will get the opportunity to travel to countries around the world, including Hungary, France, Japan, Italy, Germany, Mexico and France. They will stay in the country for 8-12 days.
Over 65% of students participating in this year’s program are from Fort Worth ISD schools; multiple college students are acting as delegate leaders to help the high school students on their journey.
The students are leaving for their respective countries rather soon:
Budapest, Hungary: March 7-15, 2020 Nîmes, France: March 7-15, 2020 Toluca, Mexico: March 7-15, 2020 Trier, Germany: June 5-15, 2020 Guiyang, China: June 5-15, 2020 Nagaoka, Japan: June 20-29, 2020 Nagaoka, Japan – Harashin: July 25-Aug. 4, 2020 Mbabane, Eswatini: June 5-15, 2021
Students can spend time with their host family in any way they want.
“It depends on what they want to do in their host home,” Ferguson said. “They may want to attend class with their host brothers or sisters, go to events. We’re trying to teach everyone is alike.”
However, the recent spread of the coronavirus has affected the status of some trips. The Italy trip was postponed until the summer.
The Fort Worth Sister Cities program has been around for more than 35 years, and its purpose is to expand international relationships to support economic development and cultural fluency, develop a community-engagement campaign and establish a center for global relations, according to its website.
“This organization is the only one dedicated to promoting Fort Worth internationally and reaching our local community through international education, exchange and commerce,” said Veronica Chavez Law, the chairwoman of the board of Sister Cities international.
The program’s main goal is to create cultural confident leaders, but the benefits aren’t limited to just that.
“It is proven that students who travel are more likely to seek out additional education, opportunities, attend universities and be involved in the community,” Law said.
According to the Fort Worth Sister Cities website, its “ specific programs are designed to help develop a lifelong global perspective in our community’s young people, expand our city’s influence on the national and international stages.”
Before Price administered the citizens diplomat oath, she gave the students a piece of wisdom before they depart on their journey.
“Congratulations, you’re all going to wonderful places,” Price said. “It’s a golden opportunity for you to go and experience the culture and other areas but also to spread the good news about Fort Worth and who we are and what we do and invite them to come and visit us and share with us.”
One key line from the oath seemed to resonate with the crowd:
“…have opportunity and responsibility to improve relations between the United States and the rest of the world.”Betsy Price
As the student ambassadors were leaving the chamber, after they completed the oath given by Price, she asked the group if they wanted a Cowtown style pin to remember the moment.
“It’s Molly, our logo on them. Not Bevo. Molly from the city of Fort Worth. Wear it proudly on your trip.” said Price, drawing a few laughs out of the crowd.
If high school students are interested in participating in this program, they can apply through the Sister Cities website. They need to complete an application, pay a fee of $25 for a student membership, provide a copy of your latest report card, find two recommendations from teachers, and a one-page essay on “Why I want to be a Youth Ambassador.” Finally, students need to schedule a personal interview with their parents after they are contacted.