Student Exchange

The student exchange is an opportunity for secondary school students to develop personal growth and understanding among the people of Tempe, Arizona, USA, through a family living and cultural experience.  It is a five week exchange for three students from the Lower Hutt area. 

Find out more on how to apply.


Selection Criteria

Applicants must:

  • Reside and attend school in the Hutt City Council area.

  • Be either Year 11 or 12 at the time the applications close for the following year’s exchange.

  • Be either a New Zealand Citizen or New Zealand Resident, and must be able to obtain a passport prior to departure.

  • Submit a completed Student Exchange Application form and pay an application fee of $20 to the Hutt Sister City Foundation (HSCF).

  • Provide a supporting letter from their school principal or head teacher.


Selection Process

Three Year 11/12 applicants are selected in September each year to participate in the exchange programme after presenting a speech and going through an interview process with the HSCF.  

An Information Evening is held a few weeks prior to the close of applications each year.  At this Information Evening, the three students who have just participated in the student exchange will make a presentation of their experience.

At the pre-selection Speech Evening each applicant is required to give a three-five minute speech about themselves, their family, and why they would like to go on this exchange.

Each applicant is interviewed by the selection panel from the HSCF, and a home visit is made.  All applicants will be notified by telephone, followed by a formal letter, as to the success of their application.



This exchange has been designed to enable any student who is selected, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances, to participate.

The costs involved are as follows:

  • Passport.

  • Visa - if required.

  • Personal spending money for the delegate while in the USA.

  • Extra living costs associated with having a visitor living in your home with your family for five weeks.

HSCF contributes, from Hutt City Council funding, $1000 towards airfares and travel insurance for each delegate upon receipt of an official travel itinerary issued by a travel agent or airline.

HSCF will also pay for ESTA Visa Waivers, but not Visas, required for entry into the USA.

All other costs will be paid from Fundraising, in order of priority, and as availability of funds allow:

  • Balance of delegates’ airfares and travel insurance

  • Any costs associated with a programme for the Tempe students during their five week stay in Lower Hutt

  • A group activity, e.g. trip to Rotorua. Costs to include any travel, accommodation, food, and entry fees.



  • All delegates and their families are required to organise and participate in joint fundraising activities for at least six months prior to the arrival of the Tempe students.

  • The delegates and their parents will have regular meetings to plan their fundraising programme, manage their fundraising account, and plan a programme for their Tempe visitors.

  • The Student Exchange Co-ordinator and the HSCF Board will provide guidance, and at least one person will try to attend each of the above meetings.


Travel Arrangements

  • International travel will be organised by the Student Exchange Co-ordinator.

  • All delegates must travel as a group from Wellington to Phoenix, and similarly on return. No individual travel variations can be made.


Exchange Information

The three Tempe students are selected in February and they are then paired with the Lower Hutt students.  Students and their families are able to communicate via the internet to meet and get to know each other before the exchange begins.

The Tempe students arrive early June and visit for five weeks.  They do not attend school, although usually a day is set aside in the programme for them to attend school with their Lower Hutt student.

A few days after the Tempe students return home, the three Lower Hutt students leave for Tempe, where they are hosted by their Tempe family.  They spend time with them before they join delegates from nine other countries who are also visiting on their student exchange.  In recent years, this large group of students have camped at the Grand Canyon for a couple of nights, visited Disneyland, and attended an American Prom!



Delegates will sign a contract with the HSCF which will include:

  • Attendance and participation in group meetings to organise fundraising and events.

  • Attendance at formal events organised by the HSCF.

  • Provision of a written report about the exchange to the HSCF one month after their return from Tempe.

  • Work at various HSCF events after their return from Tempe. This includes speaking at schools, and may include working at information booths at organised functions, providing assistance with activities at Minoh House, and any HSCF fundraising activities.

  • Commitment to membership of the HSCF for at least one year after their trip to assist with the following year’s exchange.

  • Behaving in an appropriate manner as an ambassador of both our city and our country.



Selected students are expected to:

  • Obtain a passport prior to departure.

  • Provide a positive experience for the visiting Tempe students.

  • Be professional and co-operative in the family living experience while being hosted in the home of Tempe students.

  • Participate in all scheduled activities in New Zealand and the USA.

  • Have a life-changing experience

  • Be involved - this is essential for continuing HSCF and Hutt City Council support for the student exchange.