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Since 1978, Lakewood Sister Cities has sponsored a High School Student Exchange program with Sutherland Shire south of Sydney, Australia. Our exchange program is a unique "twin" program where the American student is paired with an Australian student & family. The Australian spends the first semester in the USA with the American student and family, then both students return to Australia for the second semester.

Applications are accepted from students in grades 9 & 10 in January each year.

Over the years, this student exchange has developed into one of the most successful programs in the Jefferson County school system. Our exchange is unique in that it is reciprocal and based upon the partnership between an American and an Australian student.

To start, the American student and family participate in an application and interview process to be selected. Upon and following selection, the student and family are paired with an Australian student and family. The Aussie student arrives in July to spend six months living with the American family and attending Jeffco schools. Then, both students leave in January to spend six months in Australia, living with the partner's family and studying at a high school in Sutherland Shire. This is a real student exchange, where an American teenager can host a foreign student and then become one in six month’s time. The Exchange Program is well supervised on both sides with many planned activities, and you can find information about our Sister City exchange organization on their website.


Students that want to apply for the Student Exchange Program must meet and maintain several requirements.


Applicants MUST:

  • Have a current GPA of 2.75 or better.

  • Be enrolled in a Jefferson County High School and be a Jefferson County Resident.

  • Be in grade 9 or 10 to travel the following year in grade 10 or 11.

  • Be prepared to assist in promotion and recruitment of the program the following year.



Be sure, this is not just a student exchange. This will involve your entire family. Lakewood Sister Cities is a volunteer organization made up of folks just like you - parents, families and students from previous exchanges. So, the families of the applicant must also meet and maintain several requirements.


All families MUST:

  • Be willing to host an Australian student the first semester of next year.

  • Be able to participate in all of the required events of the next 1-1/2 years.

  • Be able to provide transportation for the student to all of the required events.

  • Be willing to head a committee to organize events for the exchange group.

  • Be resilient, flexible, accommodating, and tolerant in the strangest situations!


In America

Applications Due

Interview Meetings (3)

Selections Final

Pairing Potluck 

6 Toastmasters/Parent Planning Meetings 

Aussie Arrival Orientation

Aussies Arrive

Welcome Barbeque

Camping Trip

Mayor’s Banquet 

Group Meetings I & II

Southwest Trip (Aussies only)

Liaison Weekend (Aussies only)

Ski Trip

Farewell Party

Aussies Depart

Americans Depart


Americans Arrive in Australia

Welcome Barbie

Camping Trip

Toastmaster’s Banquet

Liaison Weekend to Nelson’s Bay

Australia Outback trip (Americans only)

Presidential Debutante Ball

Farewell Party

Great Barrier Reef Trip (Americans only)

Yanks Arrive Home

End of February

Starting March




Late June or early July

Mid July

Mid July



September and November

Mid October

September or November

Early December

Late December or early January

Early January

Mid January


Mid January

Mid January





May or June



Mid July

In Australia
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