Taken by Supriya Pava

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Life of New Yorker Goes to Holland Finale

The 6th and final day of our Rotterdam tour was an emotional one. We came together as community leaders, staff, and students to recap, discuss, and engage one last time on the RDM Campus. Even though we were heading to Amsterdam the following morning it felt as if an important part of our journey was coming to an end. We learned so much and built some solid relationships with the professors, students, and guides in Rotterdam through international exchange.

Closing Session on RDM Campus
Connecting Delta Cities Chart during final presentation
Our final presentation took place in the auditorium of RDM Campus where our large group combined with various professionals and students of Rotterdam. It was a perfect summary of everything we had learned and even expanded further on that knowledge by explaining the existing connection between the Delta Cities, which included Rotterdam, Hong Kong, and New York.

The Panel
Community Leaders participating in panel discussion at closing ceremony

During the discussion panel the leaders were able to express their gratitude, speak about what happened during Hurricane Sandy, the roles their organizations play in the community on a daily basis, and recap what they learned on the tours.I think this was an integral part of the program which at times was very technical and lacked the community aspect of it all. Having ground knowledge was crucial in providing necessities and keeping communication with the residents in the community during a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy. This panel I felt opened up a different perspective coming from the voice of the people in each represented community organization in NYC.

Red Hook Initiative (RHI) was represented by Alisa P. and Toni S. on the panel. They introduced themselves and spoke about youth programs such as the Digital Stewards and the Social Justice Fellows which are granting more opportunities and empowering the young people in the Red Hook community every day. The representatives from Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and Rockaway Water Front Alliance, who were also gravely affected by Sandy, sat alongside Toni and Alisa representing their own communities and speaking of their individual daily challenges. It felt like there was a bond or sort of kinship that developed from this willingness to come together for a common goal and share stories and pertinent knowledge with each other.

My personal favorite part of the closing ceremony was the comparison segment between the two cities. Apparently, while Rotterdam has been on top of Urban Re-development and major projects to improve climate resilient infrastructure in their city, NY has been improving upon community affairs and crisis management which is something even the people of Rotterdam agree they could improve upon. To further drive this point we all participated in an exercise where all the community representatives from NY raised their hands to show the drive and dedication as well as community presence. On the other hand when it was time for the community leaders and representatives from Rotterdam to raise their hands an uncomfortable silence spread across the room as no one raised their hands. This was an excellent point made to show that both Rotterdam and NY were making moves to make more resilient communities and adapt to climate change. Connecting the Delta cities and exchanging information was a major step in the mission and I was very proud to be part of it. 
Check out the Students of Pratt Institutes's blog to relive the adventure from the prospective of urban planning students: http://ramprotterdamx.tumblr.com/ 

I am honored to have been the chosen young adult representing Red Hook Initiative in The Netherlands. Information was exchanged, relationships were built, and I grew as a person as well as a community organizer after this experience. It was my first time ever in Europe and I never imagined I would be there to make a difference in this world by giving back to my community. It was all thanks to a place I consider to be a safe haven, a support system,  and the beacon of hope in my neighborhood.
Thank you, Red Hook Initiative!!! 


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