Azalea International Folk Fair, in collaboration with Valdosta-Lowndes County Schools of Valdosta, GA, USA and ChiaYi City Schools of Chia-Yi, Taiwan, R.O.C. is proud to sponsor a new cultural and educational exchange program.
In 2007, we were able to extend an invitation to the Taiwanese Youth Folk Sports Troupe to perform for our region's four schools (Brooks County Middle, Hahira Middle, Lowndes Middle, and Lowndes High Schools) and an open to the general public performance. From September 30 -- October 2, 2007, five shows reached up to 5,000 audiences. The troupe has traveled around the world to entertain thousands of people with their unique talents, and now, they have even come to Valdosta!! How remarkable that we are putting South Georgia on their world map!
From September 25 -- October 1, 2008, Mr. John Newton, our board member for invention and technology and an instructor of technology and engineering at Lowndes High School, was invited by the International Forum for Invention Promotion (IFIP) to be one of the judges for the 5th annual International Exhibition for Young Inventors (IEYI) in Taipei, Taiwan. The then Hahira Middle School student Wesley Newton was sponsored by the Georgia Power Foundation to represent the U.S. alongside the hundreds of students from 13 countries around the world. These inquisitive students built strong cultural and intellectual connections as they shared information about their inventions or simply engaged in friendly conversation.
What a joy to see young people from a wide diversity of backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, and religions take great pleasure in making new friends without boundaries. In this world of invention and technology, young creative minds open their hearts and minds and reach out without hesitation. What a beautiful world!!
From February 27 - March 8, 2010, eighteen exceptionally talented students from Taiwan and the Philippines flew halfway around the world to compete in the Fair's Youth Invention Exhibition. A total of 25 inventions were displayed, representing Taiwan, the Philippines and the United States. Our students were surely inspired.
These young inventors dedicated two entire days to the Folk Fair's school field trip programs, interacting with and presenting their inventions to nearly 2,500 students and teachers from all over South Georgia and North Florida. Seeing their enthusiasm and creativity, teachers responded positively, expressing hope that these inventors can return every year to motivate our local students' interests in science, technology, and invention. The cultural and educational advantage this project has brought to South Georgia's rural schools and communities has indeed been substantial.
All of these we have achieved, yes indeed, we can be rightfully proud - we have opened eyes, expanded horizons, and enriched lives. Because of these international guests, our region's students have learned and experienced things no two-dimensional textbook could provide. In the process, they have gained new perspectives and understandings, learning to appreciate the rich diversity of the world beyond our borders. In today's interconnected, transnational world of supersonic jets, virtual spaces, and globalized economies, instilling a sense of international awareness and responsibility in the youth is more important than ever. This is the reason why the cross-cultural exchanges among countries around the world have become the key issue in the twenty-first century. Valdosta-Lowndes County's teachers and students, of course, should never be left behind.