Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 10, 2012

Making the World a Better Place

South Georgians visit Taiwan

VALDOSTA — Listening to stories of a Lowndes County group’s summer adventures in Taiwan, it’s hard to tell who made the biggest impression on whom.

Sponsored by the Valdosta-based Azalea International Folk Fair, the South Georgians discovered incredible foods, surrogate host families, charming vistas, and an intense work ethic. All experiences and memories which the travelers believe will last them a lifetime or inspire them to return to the Asian nation.

For African-American visitors Faith Thornton, a Lowndes High School freshman, and brothers Lewis Cureton, a Valdosta State University senior, and Trey Cureton, a Wiregrass Georgia Technical School student, they were surprised by the effect their appearance had on the Taiwanese population.

Many Taiwanese had never seen a black person, Thornton and the Curetons explain. They were mobbed like celebrities. Buses stopped for riders to greet the Americans and pose with them for photos. People touched them. Lewis Cureton’s tall height added to his celebrity in Taiwan.

With exception of one incident of a parent and child who seemed fearful of the visitors’ appearance, the Curetons and Thornton say the attention was positive. Strange but friendly.

From May 31 through July 2, Thornton and the Curetons visited Taiwan with Cammie Traylor, a Lowndes Middle School teacher, Julie Traylor, a Georgia Southern University graduate student studying public health, Carlie Traylor, a University of Georgia junior, Katie Hauser, a Valdosta Middle School student teacher, Claire Hanson, a Georgia Tech freshman, and Serena Huang, a Taiwan native and Azalea International Folk Fair founder.

They stayed with host families who not only gave the South Georgians a place to stay but ensured they felt like part of their families. Lewis Cureton shares how some hosts had both sides of the family living in the same house. With one host family, a grandfather passed away; Lewis Cureton was treated as if he were an honored relative as the family gathered for the funeral

service.

Hauser says her host families had things planned for her daily, introducing her to new experiences, sites, tastes, people. Her families went out of their way to ensure she had a better understanding of Taiwan and its people.

Increasing cultural understanding is a chief part of the goal for these cultural exchange journeys and the Azalea International Folk Fair.

Huang started the fair and related events several years ago so her children growing up in Valdosta would understand their parents’ Taiwanese heritage. To increase her children’s interest, Huang developed dance lessons and cultural-learning events that included her children’s classmates.   

As time has passed, Huang’s children have grown into young adults and these activities have become events in the annual Folk Fair. Cultural exchange trips have become part of the program. Earlier this year, approximately 30 Taiwanese students and teachers visited Valdosta and Lowndes County.

For Trey Cureton, this summer’s Taiwan trip was an opportunity to catch up with a friend made during the Taiwanese visit earlier this year to Valdosta. Trey and his friend acted as much like siblings as Trey and Lewis.

While deepening friendships, they also marveled at customs and other items.

Text Only
Local News
  • Cardiovascular Surgeons.jpg SGMC hires three cardiovascular surgeons

    South Georgia Medical Center has hired three cardiovascular surgeons, according to the hospital Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moody firefighter 2.jpg Moody firefighter feeds burning passion for food

    He can bust down a burning door and save lives from a flaming inferno. If the kitchen survives, he might whip up some elegant blackened salmon.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • vpd accreditation.jpg VPD receives national reaccreditation

    The Valdosta Police Department received reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and is ready to file for accreditation for the regional crime lab.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fussell Tire & Service to expand into new facility

    An existing business will open a new facility and expand its operations, according to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014

  • Brown Johnson Solis Cardiovascular Surgeons.jpeg Cardiac, Vascular, Thoracic & Endovascular Surgeons Join South Georgia Medical Center

    The three surgeons will operate a full-time medical practice and professional office named the SGMC CardioVascular Institute.  The medical office, which is located in Suite 230 of the Professional Building which is adjacent to SGMC, will be open 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140729-Gas_Leak002.jpg Roadway closed after second gas line break

    For a second day in a row, workers from Valdosta’s Utilities Department struck a natural gas service line causing a leak that shut down a portion of Forrest Street, officials said.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • dump truck arrest photo.jpg Deputies nab stolen dump truck suspects

    The search for suspected dump truck thieves ended Tuesday afternoon with the arrest of two men in the same area officials searched extensively Monday.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bears sighted on Baytree

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road this week could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Johnson family files second suit against school

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 30, 2014

  • Teachers Harvest

    With students and teachers returning to the classroom in the coming days, the need for school supplies is at the top of numerous priority lists. For teachers, this often means spending their money to ensure classrooms are fully stocked.

    July 30, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results