VALDOSTA — Six students from Taiwan brought a bit of their culture to Lowndes High School last week.

Jenny Lin, Director of Fujen Catholic High School Division of International Education and Exchange Program, brought 15 students total, with the other nine attending Lowndes Middle School for the three week visit.

Each student selected for the trip had to pass extensive assessments by the school and participate in an interview panel to be chosen as Taiwan’s cultural ambassadors.

The ambassadors shadowed students at their respective Lowndes school to learn about the day in the life of an American student and compare how it differs to their own lives in Taiwan. It was also an opportunity to experience Valdosta’s local culture, cuisine and practice their English.

Host families opened their homes to the youths as they became fully immersed in life in Valdosta.

“This is the first time we’ve stayed this long,” Lin said. “I hope I can bring more students in the future.”

The trip was sponsored by the Valdosta Asian Cultural Association (VACA) and the Taiwan Delegation has been participating in exchanges with Lowndes County School teachers and students since 2011.

VACA Founder and Project Director Serena Huang, who is also a native of Taiwan, hopes this is a partnership that will continue for years to come.

Each of the six exchange students who visited Lowndes High School delivered a different presentation on various aspects of Taiwan, from religion to architecture, and students were able to answer trivia questions throughout for traditional Taiwanese prizes.

Huang also offered a traditional food, affectionally referred to as “stinky tofu,” for the bravest students in the audience to try. “Stinky tofu” is a fermented tofu with a signature strong odor.

After a few laughs, each of the six exchange students set up a tea area in the Lowndes High School library. While the act of making tea may seem simple to Americans, for these ambassadors, it is more of an art form where the Lowndes students were given the opportunity to truly take in the essence of the leaves.

“It’s been wonderful,” LHS AP World History Teacher Patricia Dinkins said. “My students get to see live demonstrations of things we talk about. It’s so authentic and they get to compare it to their lives.”

Desiree Carver is a reporter at the Valdosta Daily Times. She can be reached at (229) 244-3400 ext. 1215.

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