Women’s collection of postcards from writers around the world on display at the Freeport Area Library

Kim Aluise has always loved paper and old letters. She writes to strangers all over the world via postcards, and they reply to her.

Aluise, 49, of Harrison has amassed 350 postcards from people living in 45 countries and more.

Around 40 of these cards are on display until August 14 in a showcase in the Freeport Area Library.

Aluise is waiting for a response from someone she wrote to in Timbuktu.

Yes, Timbuktu is a real place, a region of Mali, said Aluise. The mail is transported by camel, and it takes about three months for a letter to arrive and return from there, she noted.

Aluise is one of more than 800,000 members of postcrossing.coma website that, for free, allows members to mail postcards to and receive them from random people in 207 countries.

“I had no idea an organization like this existed,” said Nancy Hagins, chief librarian at the Freeport Area Library.

As Aluise volunteers at the library, Hagins would hear the stories about Aluise’s latest postcard and thought the public would like to learn more about Aluise’s hobby and the international postcard-writing community.

“It’s amazing,” Hagins said, “that Kim can see our country and people from the perspective of another person from another country.”

Aluise has been a member of postcrossing.com for about a year and a half. She loves images from foreign postcards and stories sent in by foreigners.

“It makes mail much more interesting,” she said.

Although the exchanges between the postcard authors are “unique and complete,” Aluise said, they are fun and informative. Members provide their interests and contact details so that a stranger can strike up a conversation in a postcard.

Aluise continues to learn details about life abroad that she previously did not know: Andorra is a small landlocked country between France and Spain. In Denmark, only four out of 10 Danes own a car, but nine out of 10 residents own a bicycle.

And what do foreigners learn about Aluise, America and Pittsburgh?

Pittsburghese, she says. “Have you ever eaten or ‘jet-jet?’ ”

“It’s a great hobby for all ages,” said Aluise, who continues to wait for a postcard from Timbuktu as she writes new postcards for more international destinations.

Mary Ann Thomas is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Mary by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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