Valdosta Daily Times

March 6, 2014

Bringing the world to Valdosta

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — This week’s Azalea International Folk Fair is more than beautiful costumes, exotic dances, and intriguing foods. It is an experiment to diversify South Georgia’s understanding of the world, to broaden the horizons of visitors both near and far.

The fair originally started as one mother wanting to share her native culture with her children. Serena Huang was born and raised in Taiwan. She moved to the states as a young adult and was raising a family in Valdosta.

She wanted her children to understand the culture and ways of their Taiwanese ancestors. To ensure her children’s interest, Huang created a program that included their school classmates.

From these simple beginnings grew the Azalea International Folk Fair. While a strong focus remains on Asian culture, Azalea International broadened the scope to include cultures from around the globe.

This year, the event’s participants will also have the opportunity to see visiting Taiwanese students present a showcase of their nation’s culture. The Taiwan delegation arrived in Valdosta-Lowndes County last weekend. Throughout this week, the students and teachers are attending regional schools. They are learning about American schools and students, while area students and teachers received a glimpse of what schools are like in Taiwan.

Huang has also arranged for South Georgia students and teachers to travel to Taiwan for a month this summer.

Since 2000, the world has been South Georgia’s for the taking. All it requires is a little time on Friday evening.