Traveling to countries around the world like Israel, Japan, Mexico and Taiwan, a group of Ahwatukee students have been chosen as youth ambassadors for the city of Phoenix’s Youth Ambassador Exchange program.

The five students will be going to some of Phoenix’s sister cities such as Ramat-Gan, Israel; Himeji, Japan; Hermosillo, Mexico; and Taipei, Taiwan.

“We look for mature, well-rounded, flexible students who are interested in learning about other cultures,” said program manager, Misty Cisneros-Contreras.

The program is open to high school sophomores and juniors.

Of the 25 students from around the city, Ahwatukee students include Hannah Daniel and Heather Kendall of Desert Vista High School, and Andrew Nicla, Arynn Spaulding and Teresa Velasco of Mountain Pointe High School.

Students stay with their assigned host families for three weeks in the early part of their summer vacation, and then in turn host their families here in July.

Velasco, who will be staying in Ramat-Gan, Israel, said the program increases awareness and tolerance for other cultures, something that doesn’t come easy to most teenagers.

“It forces you to become aware about the world and what’s going on,” she said.

For more information about the program, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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