Hickory – The Young Artists and Authors Showcase (YAAS) is an annual competition that encourages youth worldwide to express the mission of Sister Cities International through original artwork, literature, photography, and music for both original and reinterpreted pieces. Submissions are centered around an annual theme and judged based on originality, composition, and theme interpretation. This year’s theme is “United in Hope”.

Each entry must be placed through a local sister cities member chapter. Western Piedmont Sister Cities Association (WPSCA) is the local Sister Cities International member chapter that hosts this annual competition. You do not need to be a member of WPSCA and there is no fee to participate. All youth ages between 13 and 18 years (must not be over 18 years of age as of May 1, 2021) and living in any of the 4-county regions of Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties are eligible and encouraged to participate. All applications and entries must be submitted by Saturday, April 10 at 5pm. Please contact Tracey Trimble, WPSCA Chair and Catawba County Designee at ttrimble@hickoryfurniture.com or 704-502-5932 and she will send you a direct link to the application and answer any additional questions you may have.

Selected Grand Prize Winners in each category (art, articles, poetry, photography, original music, and reinterpreted music) win a $1000 prize. Second-place winners will receive $250 and third-place winners will receive $100.

Western Piedmont Sister Cities Association has been working with their partners in Altenburger Land to establish sister school pairings between schools in the Western Piedmont region in North Carolina and schools in the Altenburger Land region in Germany. The two sides held a virtual meeting last month for interested schools to meet one another and discuss upcoming school and youth initiatives together, including the YAAS competition, digital pen pals, shared remote learning sessions, classroom videoconferencing, culinary recipe video exchanges, future in-person apprenticeships and internships and future in-person school and home exchanges where students stay with host families. If you are interested in a sister school partnership or exchange for your school, there is still time. Just contact Tracey Trimble directly at ttrimble@hickoryfurniture.com or 704-502-5932.

WPSCA stands for Western Piedmont Sister Cities Association. WPSCA was officially organized in 1992 and incorporated as a regional non-profit in 1993. On March 19, 1997 during an official signing ceremony, WPSCA made international history by connecting four counties located within the Western Piedmont region of North Carolina (Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba), together with the Altenburger Land, a region located in the central part of Germany in the former East German Federal State of Thuringia. WPSCA chose to pursue its first relationship with Germany because of the Western Piedmont’s strong cultural and business ties to Germany along with its rich Lutheran heritage. This signing created the first region-to-region partnership for Sister Cities International (SCI). Sister Cities programs promote peace and understanding through joint exchanges that focus on arts and culture, youth and education, business and trade, and community development, all of which are essential in creating, growing, and maintaining people-to-people relationships and diplomacy around the world.