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Writers & Photographers
'Enlightenment and Progress through Exchange,' by Charmaine Agawin from Santa Clarita's sister city Sariaya, Philippines, was one of five international finalists in the program.
by Christina Elston
Last summer, Valencia High School student Ashley Choi went to Mexico to help build a house for a family in need. Her experience, though, produced more than a home. The trip was a catalyst for an essay Choi called “The Powerful Exchange of Love.”
“While building this house I was able to communicate with the family even though we were from two different places without a common language,” Choi writes. “Through common interests and ideas, I was not only able to build a house, but a relationship out of love.”
On June 25, Choi’s essay was awarded the $1,000 Grand Prize in the Sister Cities International Young Authors and Artists Showcase, and will be recognized at the organization’s annual conference in San Antonio July 12-14. “This is the first time a local student has won the grand prize for a 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 in announcing the award.
Also honored was Charmaine Agawin, from Santa Clarita’s sister city Sariaya, Philippines. Agawin was chosen as an international finalist for her piece “Enlightenment and Progress through Exchange.”
Sister Cities International is a nonprofit focused on fostering partnerships among communities around the world and promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation. Santa Clarita has relationships with both Sariaya and Tena, Ecuador. Each spring, the city’s Santa Clarita Valley International Program offers local students ages 13 to 18 the chance to submit art, essays and poems to the Young Authors and Artists Showcase.
Learn more about the program at www.SCVIPSantaClarita.org.
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