Rotterdam artist receives WWF grant to set up pen pal exchanges between Baltimore and Rotterdam area schools

The Netherlands chapter of the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) has awarded a grant to Rotterdam theatre artist/educator Kathie diStefano, Avalanche Arts (Stichting Lawine), to link students in Baltimore with Dutch high school students in the greater Rotterdam area. This ‘Pen Pal Project’ will use social media to build awareness for environmental issues in both countries.

Participants will begin by looking critically at their own trash behavior and how this affects their communities as well as global waste problems. Students will be asked to “think globally and act locally” to help reduce litter and increase recycling in their communities.

Students in the two cities will share stories and compare findings regarding trash problems and recycling challenges in Dutch and American neighborhoods.

The Baltimore-Rotterdam Pen Pal Project builds on a pilot exchange completed in 2015 with Baltimore’s Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and a school near Rotterdam, and on previous environmentally-themed art educational projects with children and community residents in the Baybrook area of Baltimore and Heijplaat area of Rotterdam, completed by Avalanche Arts in collaboration with Baltimore artist/educator Stephen Bradley.

The Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (a member of the Baltimore Sister Cities 501(c)(3) association), supports these exchanges. Baltimore and Rotterdam have been sister cities since 1985. The committee encourages engagement between the two cities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems together through reciprocal exchanges and projects.