Youth Leadership Summit

Sister Cities International welcomes high school students (ages 14-18) to participate in the 2016 Youth Leadership Summit during Sister Cities International's 60th Annual Conference in Washington, DC July 13-16, 2016. Non-local students will be housed at the George Washington University dorms. 

Click here to download the 2016 Youth Leadership Summit flyer. 

Click here to register!

Click here to download the Youth Leadership Summit Chaperone application.


Wednesday, July 13

12:00pm - 5:00pm

6:00pm - 7:00pm 

7:00pm - 9:00pm

Student Arrivals and Check-in at GWU


Kickoff Reception at the Japanese Ambassador's Residence 

Thursday, July 14

8:00am - 9:00am

9:00am - 12:00pm

1:00pm - 1:30pm

1:30pm - 4:30pm

4:30pm - 5:30pm

6:00pm - 7:00pm

7:00pm - 10:00pm

Breakfast at GW

Capitol Visitor Center Tours

Group pictures outside the U.S. Capitol/U.S. Supreme Court

Smithsonian small group visits/scavenger hunt on the Mall

Walk to GW past the White House for group pictures

Dinner at Bertucci's

Activities at GW - TBD

Friday, July 15

8:00am - 9:00am

10:00am - 11:30am

12:00pm - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 5:00pm

6:00pm - 9:00pm


Opening Ceremony and Parade of Flags

Keynote Luncheon

U.S. Diplomacy Center Simulation

City Welcome Reception

Saturday, July 16

8:00am - 9:00am

9:00am - 10:00am

10:00am - 12:00pm

12:00pm - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 4:00pm

4:00pm - 5:00pm

6:30pm - 8:30pm

6:00pm - 10:00pm


Breakfast Keynote: Foreign Diplomatic Corps Panel

U.S. Diplomacy Center Simulation

Keynote Luncheon

U.S. Diplomacy Center Simulation

Final Simulation and report outs


Dessert and dance at Lou Wozar Diplomatic Awards Dinner

Sunday, July 17

7:00am - 12:00pm Student departures/breakfast

Registration Information

USDCThe Youth Leadership Summit includes accommodations at the George Washington University for four (4) nights: Check-in 7/13/16, Check-out 7/17/16. There is also an option during registration to purchase ground transportation ($25) from Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, 7/13 and Sunday, 7/17.  Flight arrival times must be between 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm on 7/13 and between 7:00 am – 12:00 pm on 7/17 for flight departures. Those traveling through DCA or BWI, or flying outside the time frames above, will be responsible for their own transportation. The registration rate for members is $600, and $650 for non-members of Sister Cities International.

Sister Cities International will also offer a local rate for students that are local to the DC area and would like to commute to the Summit daily. The registration rate is a flat fee of $350. We welcome D.C. area students to register for the regular rate if they wish to stay in GW dorms with the other students.

Click here for more information.

Click here to register.

Questions? Email Ted Carroll at

2015 Youth Leadership Summit Recap

Opening Ceremony

Over 60 high school students from the U.S. and China convened at the 59th Sister Cities International Annual Conference Youth Leadership Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  As citizen diplomacy knows no age, the Summit is specifically designed to engage youth around the important role diplomacy plays in helping to create and maintain world peace. 

Thursday, July 16

The first day of the summit kicked off with a taste of college life as Student participants unpacked their luggage at the University of Minnesota (UMN) residence halls. 

Students with Gov. Ventura

After dining on campus, participants geared up for their first round of orientation activities where they learned about the history of Sister Cities International and the important role the institution has played in the history of diplomacy before engaging in fun ice breakers and global trivia. “I loved the college-like setting and how quickly we were all able to bond due to this,” said one student residing in the UMN dorms.

Friday, July 17

The students gathered for a city-wide kick off outside the beautiful Landscape of Orchestra Hall for and opening ceremony with Minnesota Mayor Hodges and parade of flags which represented over 120 countries. 

Discussions during simulation

After the opening ceremony, participants attended Annual Conference’s Keynote Luncheon where they were able to engage with and ask questions to the conference luncheon Keynote, Governor Jesse Venture, 38th Governor of Minnesota and Former Professional Wrestler.

The highlight of the summit for most was the unique opportunity to partake in a U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Simulation organized by the U.S. Diplomacy Center. The simulation was a real life situational experience where the youth participants each had a role to play in order to solve a real-world problem of helping aid a persecuted minority group. Stakeholders had to find common ground to prevent a further crisis and a public outcry against a “terrible” refugee situation. By participating in the simulation, delegates assumed the roles of diplomats and experienced firsthand the challenges and choices their roles offered. Students learned that diplomacy can bring great rewards but only with patience, perseverance and cooperation.

Discussions during simulation

“The simulation, of course, was the main opportunity to learn about diplomacy and challenge myself intellectually. It was unlike anything I had done in school, and it made me feel realize that progress really can be made if people are willing to communicate and be patient,” one student remarked. “The simulation was by far my favorite activity because it broke down barriers between everyone and it easily brought us all together by forcing us to work in teams and create agreeable solutions to the impending issue. The activity was exciting and challenging, which made it really enjoyable. Through the simulation I was able to get a better idea of how the Department of State works and I'm glad that I now have more knowledge on international affairs,” another student said.

City Welcome Reception

Following the simulation, the participants headed over to the scenic City of Minneapolis Welcome Reception at Nicollet Island Pavilion where they were treated to live entertainment by the cities diaspora groups and tasty food that the great city is famous for. 

Saturday, July 18

On Saturday morning, youth participants attended the conference itself which featured a Foreign Diplomatic Corps Panel with representatives from the State Department as well as several other countries.

Other highlights included a keynote presentation by Lufti Haziri, Mayor of Gjilan, Republic of Kosovo who was arrested and imprisoned under accusations by the Serb regime for leading Kosovo Liberation Army activities.

Breakfast Keynote

After international intervention on his behalf, he was released from prison and was eventually elected Mayor of Gjilan in 2000, thereby becoming the youngest mayor ever elected in Kosovo and Europe. Mr. Haziri explained to students that the way in which you deal with struggles and challenges defines who you are. He also said that bridging generations is key to building a prosperous future for ourselves and our communities. “Lufti Haziri's speech was engaging and inspiring, and I was able to learn more about the situation in Kosovo, of which I knew very little about,” said one student.

Final simulation

In the afternoon, youth participants attended the Annual Conference’s Keynote Luncheon remarks by Rudy Maxa, Host and Executive Producer of “Rudy Maxa’s World.” The students also had the opportunity to participate in cultural events held in conjunction with President Nelson Mandela International Day at the Sabathani Community Center. "I enjoyed the opportunities to interact, network, and connect with other youths as well as the chance to gain a better understanding of diplomacy," a student remarked.

The Summit culminated with a final simulation intended to explore possible solutions to the refugee crisis. Students presented final projects on the resolutions they proposed as well as what they learned about themselves and the intricacies of diplomacy. The final projects illustrated the importance of international cooperation in tackling some of our most pressing global challenges. 

Dancing after the annual awards

Following the final simulation, students attended the Lou Wozar Annual Awards Dinner and Ceremony where they witnessed firsthand the hard work and contributions that various sister city programs across the U.S. have accomplished. 

“I definitely plan on staying involved. I love dealing with international affairs and knowing about cities around the world in different countries, not just my own," said a student at the end of the Summit.

CLICK HERE to view photos from the 59th Annual Conference and Youth Leadership Summit. CLICK HERE to read a first-hand report and testimonial from the SoCal Sister Cities Youth Representative. 

Save the date for the 2016 Youth Leadership Summit in Washington, DC July 14-16! 

2014 Youth Leadership Summit Recap

At the 58th Sister Cities International Annual Conference in San Jose, California, over 100 high school students from the United States, Germany, Japan, China, and South Korea participated in the Youth Leadership Summit. 

The Summit was designed to engage youth in the Sister Cities International network while exposing them to important international challenges focused on the theme, Water as a Shared Commodity. The educational G20 simulation provided students with a platform to learn about diplomacy, international relations, critical thinking, and teamwork. Throughout the weekend, students participated in various activities in addition to their classroom sessions.

Thursday, July 31

Non-local students were housed in the San Jose State University (SJSU) residence halls and were able to experience a taste of college life. After dining on campus, participants geared up for their first round of orientation activities. Students viewed the movie Water Wars, a documentary that uncovers critical water issues facing humanity. Following the film, students returned to the dorms for ice breakers and trivia. 

Friday, August 1

The youth represented Sister Cities International at the opening ceremony as flag bearers. Each student carried a flag from a different member community during the Parade of Flags.

Following the opening ceremony, students attended a special session; “Global Challenges of Water.” His Excellency Nigel Warren, Consul General of Australia, moderated the panel. Participants on the panel included The Honorable Mayor Masao Omari, City of Okayama, Japan, Cheryl K. Davis, Manager, Workforce Development Initiative Water Enterprise, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and John Tang, Director of Government Relations and Corporate Communications, San Jose Water Company. The panelists discussed various water issues in their respective communities and encouraged students to become innovative leaders in the field of international diplomacy. 

The students returned to SJSU to meet in their country and topic groups which provided them with exposure to a matrix type of simulation. Students were challenged to cooperate with ambassadors from other countries while keeping their own country’s interests in mind.  

After the classroom sessions, students joined general conference attendees at the Tech Museum of Innovation for the pre-concert reception. The participants also attended the MGM Inspiring Our World: A Musical Journey production and the Dionne Warwick Concert at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts. 

Saturday, August 2

Youth participants spent Saturday morning exploring the trails at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge introduced students to resource management, conservation, and migration.   

Upon returning from the field trip, students attended the keynote luncheon Cisco’s Internet of Everything Presentation. Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before-turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for business, individuals, and countries.  

Students spent the afternoon preparing their final presentations. They met in their topic groups to formulate and propose steadfast solutions to the various issues their group was faced with.

Prior to presenting their final projects, the students observed a sister city signing between Santa Clara, California and Limerick, Ireland. 

The Summit culminated with a simulation intended to explore possible solutions to the five critical water issues that students explored throughout the weekend. Students presented final projects on water and its importance in power struggles, public health, security, social change, and agriculture. The final projects illustrated the importance of international cooperation in tackling some of our most pressing global challenges. 

Following the final simulation, students attended the Lou Wozar Annual Awards Dinner and Ceremony where they witnessed firsthand the hard work and contributions that various sister city programs across the United States have accomplished. 

2013 Leadership Summit: A Recap

At the 2013 Sister Cities International Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, over 50 students from around the United States participated in the Sister Cities International Youth Leadership Summit.  The Summit was designed to engage youth in the Sister Cities International network while exposing them to important international challenges and the ways in which different national experiences drive international cooperation on critical issues. The Summit culminated with a simulation intended to explore possible solutions to the critical environmental issues they had been exploring throughout the weekend. The simulation illustrated both the challenges and importance of international cooperation in tackling some of our most pressing global challenges.

Featured Guests and Speakers

  • Mayor Julián Castro, City of San Antonio
  • His Excellency Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, Indonesia’s Ambassador to the United States
  • His Excellency Klaus-Jochen Guhlcke, Consul General of Germany in Houston
  • His Excellency Hideaki Mizukoshi, Minister and Head of Chancery, Embassy of Japan
  • His Excellency Jostein Mykletun, Consul General of Norway to Houston
  • His Excellency Alexander K. Zakharov, Consul General of Russia in Houston
  • Steve Diminuco, Deputy Director, Global Intergovernmental Affairs, US Department of State

Special Sessions

  • “A Conversation on Youth Activism and Engagement” with Ambassador Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, of Indonesia
  • “Entering the Shift Age” with David Houle, America’s Leading Futurist and Author
  • “Sports Diplomacy” with 2-time Paralympic Gold Medalist, Ross Davis and former US Foreign Service officers
  • “100,000 Strong Foundation” with Director Carola McGiffert
  • Tour of  the University of Texas at San Antonio, with international students, study abroad advisors and international programs faculty

Model United Nations Simulation

Students participated in an environmentally-focused Model United Nations simulation in which students debated different proposals and formed resolutions that required passage by each committee. The final session provided an opportunity for each country to present their resolutions to the crisis and defend their positions. The simulation allowed for negotiations, critiques, and compromises so that a mutually agreed upon decision could be produced. After the final session, prizes were awarded to best delegations and best overall delegate.

Country Groups

China - Germany - Japan - Kenya - Mexico - Norway - Russia - USA


  • Food Security – How can we avoid conflict and encourage cooperation to ultimately secure a sustainable water future?
  • Disaster management – Following a tsunami in Southeast Asia, delegates needed to evaluate current health related responses to natural disasters. What are some long-term projects to re-build and/or stabilize health facilities?
  • Climate change – What are some ways to foster cooperation between developing and developed countries and fix new emission goals?
  • Deforestation – How can the General Assembly encourage UN member states to stop and reverse deforestation instead of moving it from one country to another?

Youth Leadership Summit in the News!

San Antonio Express News, July 13, 2013: “Young people grapple with global issues”

Click here to download the 2013 Leadership Summit Flyer.

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As the world becomes smaller, and connections online become more frequent than face-to-face interactions, multicultural understanding at the community level is more important than ever. Sister Cities International enables citizen diplomats in communities across the world to develop relationships with communities in other countries that are based on cultural understanding and mutual cooperation.Donate