The Sister School Exchange has been operating for over 17 years. The exchange was created because tensions between rural and urban Alaskans were on the rise. Out of these miss understanding lawmakers worked together to put aside funds specifically targeting bringing rural and urban Alaskans closer together.
The exchange has changed slightly in format over the years, but the core still remains the same. At the end of the exchange students, educators, and community members all gain a greater appreciation of each others' community.
Gifts are exchanged, jokes swapped, and friendships are formed.
To date the Sister School Exchange has involved over 114 communities in 30 different school districts. Considering your average exchange involves at least 4 planes to complete, that's a lot of flying!
A former SSE teacher shared how this program impacted her and her students:
"It has made me aware of how this should happen for every student. My students came back so much more aware of the state we live in. This program gave my students a lot of reward for their willingness to explore. I think it could have changed the trajectory of some lives. As their teacher, this is awesome. "