Baltimore-Rotterdam Operation Trash / Operatie Afval – Spring 2018 exchange

Operation Trash Virtual Exchange

A social cultural program linking American & Dutch students
March – May 2018

In this online exchange program, middle school students will be 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 will be linking up with groups in their partner school abroad to meet virtually to share information about themselves, their school and their culture. Students will share information regarding trash behavior and recycling strategies in their communities. Operation Trash exchange students will be invited to take on the role of environmental stewards for their schools and communities.

School workshop given by diStefanoKathie diStefano, project coordinator of Operation Trash, visiting a school in Baltimore

The Spring 2018 exchange builds upon previous Operation Trash exchanges conducted between Baltimore and Rotterdam area schools. It is part of a series of activities in South Baltimore Gateway District schools taking place in the 2017–2018 school year.

Schools participating in the spring 2018 exchange

  • Lakeland Middle School
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA  (located in the South Baltimore Gateway District)
  • Het Balkon
    Maassluis, the Netherlands (located west of Rotterdam)

Project goals

  • Teach the concepts of Reduce, Reuse, Repair & Recycle
  • Inspire participants to help find environmentally friendly solutions for trash pollution locally and worldwide
  • Support participants in becoming ambassadors for cleaner neighborhoods and increased recycling in their communities
  • Learn about different cultures through virtual meetings and social media

Project activities

  • Take inventory of recycling in school and communities
  • Conduct a Litter Analysis of school and neighborhood
  • Pick a trash topic, do research and present findings to an audience
  • Link with students abroad
  • Make and share videos with exchange groups abroad
  • Post trash behavior findings and recycling strategies on project website
  • Take part in and/or lead community cleanups

Cultural aspects

Students will share information about who they are, where they are from, what their school is like and how life is in their worlds/neighborhoods.

Environmental aspects

Students will learn about how trash and recycling is organized in their neighborhood followed by reaching out to their partner group and comparing situations with their Dutch/American student partners.

Collage of photos showing kids participating in Operation Trash workshops

Project coordinator

The program is designed & coordinated by Kathie diStefano
from Rotterdam-based Avalanche Arts (Stichting Lawine).


Funding and logistical support provided by:

Baltimore City Office of the Mayor   Baltimore Office of Sustainability logo   Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee logo


Wereld Natuur Fonds, the Netherlands Chapter of World Wildlife Fund for Nature

Corporate sponsorship for videography costs at Lakeland school:

GBB (Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc.)