Two community members representing the Santa Clarita Sister Cities program are among a few distinguished young artists and authors to be recognized at this year’s Sister Cities International annual conference in San Antonio, Texas on July 12-14, 2013. Youth, ages 13 to 18, were asked to create an original work of art, essay or poem to capture the theme, “The Power of Exchange.”
Ashley Choi, a Valencia High School student, was awarded the $1,000-Grand Prize for her essay, “The Powerful Exchange of Love.” Capturing the true essence of this year’s Sister Cities theme, the essay was chosen based on Ashley’s real-life experiences, generosity, and selflessness in helping others within remote communities. Charmaine Agawin, from Santa Clarita’s sister city Sariaya, Philippines, was also chosen as one of five international finalists for her artwork “Enlightenment and Progress through Exchange.” Both the essay and artwork will be showcased at the Sister Cities International annual conference, with the art piece touring select U.S. cities in the coming year.
“The City is thrilled to have two youth participants from our Sister Cities program recognized for their contributions to strengthening cultural understanding through writing and art. This is the first time a local student has won the grand prize fora submission featured as part of this international program, and we’re excited to show the world how Santa Clarita is creating and strengthening partnerships in our city as well as other international communities,” said Mayor Bob Kellar.
The Santa Clarita Valley International Program (SCVIP), through its Sister Cities Program and in partnership with the City of Santa Clarita, offers local students the unique opportunity to submit entries for the annual Young Authors and Artists Showcase in the spring of each year. These art and literary competitions give students the opportunity to express their ideas of global citizenship, cross-cultural communication, and global issues through different art forms.
Sister Cities International is a non-profit organization that fosters partnership among communities around the globe to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, one individual at a time. Santa Clarita currently has a Sister Cities relationship with Tena, Ecuador in South America and Sariaya, Quezon in the Philippines.