Four Youth Ambassadors from the US state of Arizona are settling in to Ennis life as part of the Ennis Phoenix Youth Ambassador Exchange Programme.
For three weeks each summer the exchange students will live with their host families and experience life of Irish teenagers in County Clare.
Most youth ambassadors are sixteen or seventeen and Alicia Jiminez, Cameron, Hayley Raminez and Kiana Guarino were selected from hundreds of applicants to travel to Ireland as youth ambassadors from Phoenix.
During their time here they will learn to surf in Lahinch, Kayak in Killaloe, milk a cow and volunteer at the District Daycare Centre in Clarecastle plus indulge in afternoon tea in Dromoland Castle. They will also enjoy sporting and music activities and simply hanging out with their Irish peers.
The Youth Ambassador Programme is a popular initiative of the twinning relationship between Ennis and Phoenix. The first student exchange was in 1992, and since then almost 200 second level students have participated in the the annual exchange programme between Ennis and Phoenix.
In July the Ennis hosts Faye Curran, Alice Keane, Emma Pyne and Niamh McHugh students from both Rice College and Colaiste Muire will travel to Phoenix as youth ambassadors. While In Arizona the Ennis ambassadors will partake in a Grand Canyon adventure, visit Disneyland, attend an American Prom evening and do some community volunteering. Faye, Alice, Emma and Niamh will also get to meet up with ambassadors from other Phoenix twinned cities in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Czech Republic, Israel, France, Italy, Taiwan and China.
Chairperson of the Ennis Phoenix Twinning Board Michael Byrne said that,”since the formation of the twinning relationship between Ennis and Phoenix in 1988, civic and community leaders from both sides of the Atlantic have visited each other and developed strong ties and personal friendships”.
According to Cllr Mary Howard, who has served on the Ennis Phoenix Twinning Board since 2009, “The Youth Ambassador Programme is a success thanks to the host families and to the young people themselves who represent their families and communities very well. These teenagers have gone on to make lasting friendships and our Ennis based students get to represent their town on a global stage.”