• Aspen Sister Cities High School Student Exchange Program

     Due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, all meetings and student exchange programs are postponed.


    For more information abut our Sister Cities,

    visit our websitelink below.

    Aspen Sister Cities Website


    For the online application, select either the Garmisch, Germany page or the Queenstown, New Zealand page from the tabs on the left hand side of this web page. 





    The Aspen Sister City mission is to share ideas and cultures through the international exchange of students and community members from Aspen and its sister cities.

    The Aspen Sister City Committee is a non-profit organization run by a Board of Directors. The committee meets at 5:00 p.m. the second Thursday of every month in the Sister Cities room which is downstairs at Aspen City Hall, and the public is invited.


    Aspen Sister Cities and Aspen High School work together to create a well-balanced program for eligible high school students who are interested in experiencing an international exchange. Students must be in good academic and behavioral standing at their school.


    There are two high school 2 week exchanges. Between 9-12 students are chosen for each program. While staying with international host families, our students experience school days, everyday family life and historical/cultural programs relevant to each city and region.

    Garmisch, Germany

    Queenstown, New Zealand



    Garmisch, Germany - is offered every other year. Students will travel to Garmisch March/spring Break and host October.

    Queenstown, New Zealand - is offered every year. The next exchange is scheduled for 2019-2020. Students wll travel to Queenstown in June  and host in January.


    General Timeline: 

    Sept: Online applications and essays are due, interviews conducted

    Oct: Acceptance letter sent, all deposit fees of $500 due

    Nov: Preparation meetings for hosting Queenstown

    Jan: Host Queenstown group

    Feb: Preparation meetings/classes for garmisch travel

    March: Travel to Garmisch - during and around Spring Break

    May: Preparation meetings for Queenstown travel

    June: Travel to Queenstown

    July: Ducky Derby Fundraiser begins (participation required), student sale of paper envelope duck sales or online ducks

    August: Ducky Derby Fundraiser

    September: Prep for Garmisch Visit, Begin next round of Student Exchanges

    October: Host Garmisch group


    Family Expectations:

    An international student will stay in your home for approximately 10 - 12 days. You are expected to provide sleeping arrangements, meals and a nurturing family environment. You must also be prepared to deal with emotional issues that sometimes occur as a result of an international student being away from home (homesickness, cultural differences and language barriers). However, support for emotional and health issues are available around the clock by program coordinators and Aspen Sister Cities liaisons. Aspen families need to be prepared to support their own child with strategies for independence and resilience while they are traveling internationally.


    Each host family is responsible for getting their visiting student to school each day, packing any sack lunches that might be necessary, and taking care of the international student during non-school hours. This includes after school and weekends and families are free to structure this time however they see fit. Families are encouraged to give small gifts to their visiting students and provide minimal internet time so that students can contact home.


    Each Aspen family (participating student and parents) is required to attend all planning meetings and and help organize activities for hosting international students. Each family will volunteer for at least one task to complete as part of their obligation to the program.


    Passports should be obtained or updated at this time. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of the trip return. Establishing a United Mileage/Rewards account is also recommended. In order to receive mileage points, be sure the name on the student's United account matches their legal passport and/or birth certificate name.

    Student Expectations:

    Aspen students are expected to represent Aspen, their respective schools and the United States as ambassadors, and they must be committed to this process throughout the year. Keeping up on schoolwork and making good choices both in school and out in the community is part of this commitment. Additionally, students will learn about cultural traditions and behavioral expectations in their preparation classes so that they can be gracious visitors in a foreign environment. Students who are ready and willing to experience new environments, unique experiences and who are independent are well suited for the Aspen Sister Cities international exchange program.

    Students must make the Sister Cities Exchange Program a very high priority for an entire year. From the first organizational meeting through the last obligation as a host family, students must plan to be involved and committed. This sometimes means making hard choices between this program and other extracurricular activities such as sports practices, music lessons, school plays and family functions. It is important to think through all of these variables before committing to the program since there is a non-refundable deposit.

    Program Costs:

    After acceptance to the program, students must understand, sign and return the program academic and behavior contract along with a non-refundable participation fee of $500 and $500 deposit, which includes a two year membership to Aspen Sister Cities.

    Each student must raise a minimum of $400 through the Ducky Derby Fundraiser by selling ducks. This money helps defray the cost of hosting students in Aspen and sometimes covers extra travel expenses. In order to motivate students through Ducky Derby fund raising, Aspen Sister Cities will refund or credit any monies earned over $400 according to the following ranges: $401-$1000 student receives 50% of funds, $1001-$2000 student receives 60% of funds, $2001-$3000 student receives 70% of funds, $3001-$4000 student receives 80% of funds.  Any funds earned beyond the trip fee and other student exchange expenses are donated back to the Sister Cities program.

    The actual program expenses vary year to year based on flight, transfer and other expenses.  Aspen Sister Cities committee expects that each student will raise at least $350 on their own to contribute toward the family trip fee expense.  Scholarship money is available and all requests must be made in writing. Scholarship applicants need to use the required Francesca MacPherson Scholarship Form that is available from the Aspen High School front office and submit the necessary supporting documents by the program application deadline.


    Aspen Sister Cities Contacts:

    Elise Cohen, Vice President, Interium president

    Jill Sheeley, Queenstown Liaison, Garmisch Coordinator

    Betsy Ann Anastas, Garmisch Student Coordinator


    Images for this site from: https://commons.wikimedia.org. reuse with modification allowed. 12.16.2015