Youth Ambassadors from Phoenix experience the life of Ennis teenagers

Two 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 in June they will live with their host families and experience the life of Irish teenagers in County Clare.

 Seventeen year old Kaitlyn Styles and sixteen year old Susan Valdez-Villarreal 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 and to kayak in Killaloe. The girls will meet the Mayor of Ennis; they will help out in the Clarecastle Day Care Centre and 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 has been a very popular initiative of the twinning relationship between Ennis and Phoenix. Since 1988 over one hundred second level students have participated in annual exchange programmes between Ennis and Phoenix.

In July, the Ennis hosts Muireann O’Shea and Louise Kelly, both students at Colaiste Muire, will travel toPhoenixas Youth Ambassadors. While inArizona, the Ennis Ambassadors will also get to meet up with Ambassadors from other Phoenix twinned cities in Canada, Italy, China, Israel, France, Mexico, Japan, the Czech Republic and Taiwan.

In Phoenix Muireann and Louise will also partake in a Grand Caynon Adventure, visit Disneyland , attend an American Prom evening and do some community work.

According to T J Waters, Chairperson of the Ennis Phoenix Twinning Board, “We are delighted to welcome Kaitlyn and Susan as Youth Ambassadors from Phoenix. The twinning relationship between Ennis and Phoenix has been very beneficial in terms of enterprise, culture, education and community.”

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. Over the years political and business leaders, arts and cultural representatives, technical experts, teachers and students have participated in regular exchanges.

According to Cllr. Mary Howard who is also a member of the twinning board, “The Youth Ambassador programme is a great success thanks to the host families and to the young people themselves who represent their families and communities very well. These youngsters have gone on to make lasting friendships and Ennis students get to present their town on a global stage.”