American writer, photographer and bicycling enthusiast Rick Gunn is planning a ride across Iran next month in an effort to build relationships between the two countries and connect children along the way.
The Wheels of Peace Iranian-American Children’s Art Project consists of Gunn cycling across Iran for 45 days while delivering messages from South Lake Tahoe students to Iranian children. The idea, he said, is to promote peace and friendship.
“What I’m interested in is building a dialogue between the children …” said Gunn, who has been a South Lake Tahoe resident for 25 years. “They speak from the heart.”
On Monday, Gunn visited Bijou Elementary School to talk about his mission. He asked the students to create drawings for the Iranian students, with the possibility of their work being digitized, enlarged and displayed in public.
During his presentation, Gunn spoke of cycling around various parts of the world in the mid- to late-2000s. Along the way, he met an Iranian named Mohammad Tajeran, who cofounded Wheels of Peace.
“We realized we had a lot in common,” Gunn said.
The friends thought up the idea for the art project about four years ago, he said. Gunn is now planning on a Dec. 8 departure for Iran if he is approved for an Iranian visa.
If the visa is denied, however, Gunn said he still plans on showing the students each other’s artwork via Internet. But he hopes to swap the letters personally when he visits the country next month, as planned.
About 70 kids attended the presentation, which ended with two students giving Gunn a $100 donation on behalf of the school.
Fifth-grader Wendoly Castillo handed Gunn the award with the request that he let the Iranian children know “we will always be their friends,” she said.
Fifth grade teacher Bob Hickman said he’s glad local children got involved in the program.
“I think that anytime children this age can see and hear a presentation by someone like Rick Gunn, they grow from it,” he said. “The kids are certainly into it.”
Gunn, who also visited Tahoe Valley Elementary School on Tuesday, said donations for the project can be made on his website, www.soulcycler.com, or by calling 775-339-1344.
Children’s theater holds auditions
The Missoula Children’s Theater is back in South Shore this week to hold audition for the original adaptation of Robinson Crusoe.
Auditions were held Monday in South Tahoe Middle School’s multipurpose room, and rehearsals will take place throughout the week. Students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade were eligible to audition.
Robinson Crusoe will be presented in the multipurpose room on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Admission costs $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.
STHS library holds fundraiser
The South Tahoe High School Library is asking for donations this month to help them pay for a service that continuously provides new books.
Making a donation to the library’s book fund will help pay for the school’s subscription to the Junior Library Guild, which provides new books to the library each month, according to a high school announcement.
For questions about making a donation, contact Doug Dilts at 530-541-4111 ext. 240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.