We’ve all been adjusting and learning new ways to communicate and engage during this abnormal time of social distancing and Fort Worth Sister Cities has been experimenting with virtual exchanges through video conferencing. We are continuing to engage the local community in our work, as well as reach out to other parts of the world. In fact, in June we’ll be conducting virtual professional development training for urban planners in the Republic of Georgia.
Since so many of our international exchanges occur with students, we focused a lot of our energy on them this last month. Our Youth Ambassadors, delegation leaders and associate delegation leaders experienced disappointment over the cancellation or postponement of their spring and summer exchanges to several of Fort Worth’s sister cities. Outbound exchanges to France, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Japan and China will be moved to 2021. Excited students ready to travel and embark upon new adventures and to make new friends had to accept the sad news that 2020 was not the year they would have that international experience.
So, how were we going to be sure our youth programs move forward? Thankfully, our students have had plenty of experience with virtual classrooms and were comfortable with meeting new friends in our sister cities virtually. In the month of April, virtual exchanges with friends in Trier, Germany; Toluca, Mexico; Nimes, France; and Budapest, Hungary all took place. Fort Worth students and their new international friends were able to connect face to face, exchange cultures and information with one another, and just hang out like teenagers do. One of our students who was to travel to Budapest in March shared her experience and you can hear about it below.