We think about your health and safety
We keep a distance
but our mission remains the same:
With a listening and caring team
we strive to be your Day maker
070-3458442 Denneweg 56 The Hague
or visit us on Instagram AVEDA TheHague
Anne is Knighted!
Special Pandemic Section
The Magazine of the
American Women’s Club
of The Hague
5 Officers and Chairwomen
6 TLC Dinner Collage
8 Message from the Presidents
9 Virtual General Meetings
10 Letter from the Editor
12 Slate of Officers
13 Clubhouse Corner
14 Ongoing Activities
20 Home Away From Home
23 FAWCO Corner
24 Dutch Daily
30 Anne is Knighted!
SPECIAL PANDEMIC SECTION :
31 Letter from the (Pandemic) Editor
33 Pregnant During the Pandemic
33 Random Thoughts
35 Baking, Grocery Shopping, and
36 Family Medical Emergency and
39 Masks For Members
40 Collage: View From My Window
42 Surviving Two World Crises
43 Coping with the Coronavirus
44 Alone in Luxembourg
45 No Freedom of Movement
46 White House Commune
47 Laughter is the Best Medicine
49 Late in April 2020
50 Coronavirus and the
52 Advertising Rates
53 Index of Advertisers
54 COVID-19 Poem
JUNE 2020 3
2020-2021 AWC Officers
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Rider, Jo van Kalveen, Anne van Oorshot, Emily
van Eerten, Michelle Voorn, Melissa White
AWC Bank Account Number
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Honorary President Diane Hoekstra
President Barbara Brookman
Vice President Melissa Rider
Treasurer Sarah Dunn
Secretary Mary Ellen Brennan
Club and Community Development
Clubhouse Administration Officer
Communications Michelle Voorn
Liduine Bekman, Siska Datema-Kool,
Jan Essad, Deana Kreitler, Hannah Gray,
Georgia Regnault, Jessie Rodell, Lindsey
Arts: Jane Choy
Assistant Treasurer: Teresa Insalaco
Board Advisor: Jessie Rodell
Book Club Daytime: Teresa Mahoney
Book Club Evening: Dena Haggerty
Bookkeeper: Lori Schnebelie
Caring Committee: Naomi Keip
Chat, Craft & Cake: Suzanne Dundas
eNews: Michelle Voorn
FAWCO: Jenni Franklin
Front Office Coordinator: Hannah Gray
General Meetings Programs: Open
Going Dutch Editor: Alex Moore
Heart Pillows: Jan de Vries
Historian/Archivist: Georgia Regnault
Holiday Bazaar: Georgia Regnault
IT Administrator: Julie Otten
Kids’ Club: Open
Lunch Bunch: Greetje Engelsman
Mah Jongg: Jen van Ginhoven
Membership: Heather DeWitt
Movie Network: Tina Andrews
Newcomers: Jo van Kalveen, Hilde Volle
Parliamentarian: Georgia Regnault
Philanthropy: Erin Baker
Pickleball: Barbara Brookman
Social Media Facebook and Instagram:
Social Media LinkedIn: Julie Otten
Tennis: Molly Boed
Thirsty Thursday: Dena Haggerty
Tours: Liduine Bekman
Volunteer Coordinator: Laurie Martecchini
Walkie Talkies: Emily van Eerten
Webmaster: Julie Otten
Women with Dutch Partners: Michelle
Deadlines: Submissions are due no later than the last Monday of the month preceding the publication month.
For example, for the September issue, submissions are due before Monday, July 24.
Please Note: Articles submitted to Going Dutch will be published subject to space limitations and
editorial approval. All rights reserved; reprints only by written permission of the Editor. Please email to:
Legal Notice: Articles in Going Dutch express the views and opinions of their authors alone, and not necessarily
those of the AWC of The Hague, its Members or this publication.
4 GOING DUTCH
AWC Mission Statement
The AWC is an association formed to provide social and educational activities for American
women living in the Netherlands and to promote amicable relations among people of all nations,
as well as acquiring funds for general public interest. Membership in the club is open
to women of all nations who are friendly and welcoming to American culture. The association
does not endeavor to make a profit. The AWC is a 100% volunteer organization.
JUNE 2020 5
6 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 7
Message from the Presidents
by Melissa Rider,
AWC President, 2019-2020
“Be careful what you wish for, lest
it come true” was the saying running
through my mind the week
following the announcement on March 12 of
the intelligent lockdown measures by Mark
Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister. From the
moment I assumed the presidency of the AWC
The Hague in December 2019, I found myself
overwhelmed with tasks and often wished
for a break from it all. My wish was granted
when all AWC activities and events came to
a halt on March 16. I had a clear idea that
I wanted to be not quite so busy, but I did
not realize how my life would drastically
change without the AWC being a major part
of it. April and May were meant to be spent
planning for the Election of Officers and
Installation Ceremony, but instead I
found myself learning new technology
to support virtual AWC
While I am enjoying my down
time, my wish now is for these
uncertain times to end. I will
be stepping back into the role
of Vice President for the 2020-
21 Club Year. This job promises
to be even more challenging than precoronavirus
times. I will be kept busy trying
to figure out new ways to interact and
engage our Membership while still following
government health guidelines to keep
our Members safe.
Luckily for me, I
on my side plus
many new and returning
willing to help
lead the way for a
virtual AWC until
these surreal times
end. I am looking
forward to working
with our new
8 GOING DUTCH
by Barbara Brookman,
AWC President, 2020-2021
When I said “yes” to this role, I
thought about what I can do to make
sure that the Club continues to bring
value to you, our Members, as we celebrate
our 90th anniversary this year. I was looking
forward to a busy year of working together to
plan activities and events. Little did I know
that life was about to change.
At the start of this new Club Year, the AWC
The Hague is a virtual Club. In March, the
COVID-19 pandemic forced us to reinvent
ourselves quickly. Our Club showed its resilience
as we moved our activities online
using Google Hangouts and Zoom to continue
our General Meetings, Book Clubs
and even BYOB Thirsty Thursdays. We
also adjusted this issue of Going
Dutch to document what we’re
living through individually and
as a Club. I hope you enjoy
reading our special section focused
on life during lockdown
starting on page 31.
Writing this, I don’t know if
an ongoing response to the virus
will require long-term changes to
our usual activities or events, or even
our ability to get together in person. What
I do know is that this Club will build on its
strengths and find the spirit to adjust. You
have demonstrated that by getting together
out and supporting
each other, making
for Members, and
raising funds and
awareness. I’m so
proud to be a part
of this Club!
At almost 90 years
old, our Club has
shown that it can
Virtual General Meetings
by Melissa Rider
The AWC’s first ever Virtual General
Meeting held on Thursday, April 9, was
a success with 28 Members attending
the video call. It was unclear if we’d be able
to hold an election, so the AWC Board decided
to hold an email vote for the 2020-21 Slate
of Officers. The slate for the 2020-21 Board
was approved unanimously with 67 Members
casting their email votes. However, by using
Zoom Video Communications, a remote conferencing
services company, we did have the
ability to connect enough Members to meet
our quorum for an “in-person” election. The
Slate of Officers passed unanimously again
May’s General Meeting is typically our
Installation of Officers Ceremony. Had the
coronavirus not interrupted social gatherings,
the event was to be held at the US
Ambassador’s residence and hosted by our
Honorary President, Diane Hoekstra. With
restrictions still in place banning social gatherings
until September 1, our May14 General
Meeting was once again a virtual one with a
shared screen presentation titled “Passing the
Gavel: Installation Ceremony.”
The June General Meeting will be a virtual
presentation by our guest speakers, Dr.
Sheetal Shah and Angélique Koopmans,
founder and chair respectively of the
Bridge2Hope Foundation, the recipient of
Did you know that any woman who speaks English is eligible
to join the American Women’s Club?
Invite your English-speaking friends, wherever they’re from,
to join us today!
the 2020 FAWCO Human Rights Safe Haven
The Bridge2Hope Foundation developed
the Bridge2Hope Academy to support both
documented and undocumented victims of
sexual exploitation in the Netherlands. The
Academy’s intervention program focuses on
the stabilization, rehabilitation, and reintegration
to transform victims into self-reliant social
survivors. Bridge2Hope has been operational
since 2015 and has built trust and social
capital in the Amsterdam Bijlmer community,
a cultural melting pot of over 150 nationalities;
the Bijlmer has become a natural habitat
for undocumented victims of human trafficking.
This help from Bridge2Hope will benefit
the overall Bijlmer community by enabling
victims to become self-reliant and financially
self-sufficient. Studies show empowered
women break the cycle of violence and vulnerability
within their own family systems.
Please log into our online calendar or use the
Wild Apricot app to access the link for the
video conference call on Zoom.
Thursday, June 11
10 a.m. Social Time
10:45 a.m. Discussion of Club Business
11:15 a.m. – Noon Presentation by Dr.
Sheetal Shah and Angélique Koopmans
JUNE 2020 9
Letter from the Editor
by Alex Moore
After a successful trip to the motherland
for two and a half weeks, it was time
for Diederik and me to head back. On
our flight from Chicago to Amsterdam in
early March, we were surprised to discover
that the plane was only half full as normally
international flights are overbooked. It was
strange for me because my usual game of
“Spot the Dutchie” was much shorter than
usual. In retrospect, that flight was a significant
clue that something was wrong. I didn’t
realize it then, but the world was already on
the verge of huge changes.
I think back to early February before the
quarantine took place, specifically to the
first weekend when Diederik and I spent
part of the weekend in Amsterdam for a
concert and exploring the city. Before our
concert, we grabbed a quick drink with
some of my coworkers at Bret, which is one
of our usual hangout spots near Sloterdijk.
There we were, laughing and carrying on,
another Friday after work having fun with
my coworkers, unaware that it would be
one of the last Fridays at Bret for a long
time. We also didn’t realize it would be a
long time before we’d get to go to a concert
that big again.
Normally summer means that the AWC has
several activities planned in addition to the
usual Ongoing Activities, but the joke’s
on us since so much has been relegated to
virtual meetings. Whether you tune in for
a Book Club discussion―both groups are
still active, giving you extra reasons to curl
up with a good book―or a BYOB Thirsty
Thursday, there is still fun to be had, even
if we are all in our sweatpants on the sofa
while doing so. Be sure to sign up for these
events through the website or app to get the
links to the virtual meetings, which can be
a great way to stay connected with other
As many others, we’ve been doing various
home improvement projects around the
house. Our balconies are spotless. Diederik
rendered lard, which made our kitchen reek
so much I tied my cardigan around my face.
It was too cold to go outside. I’ve already
baked bread, scones and brownies. I made
mandarin orange jam. I’ve reorganized the
pantry, kitchen storage closet, coat rack,
my wardrobe and my nightstand. Look out,
Marie Kondo, you’re not the only one who
loves a mess.
We’ve received some fantastic pandemic
inspired submissions for this issue of Going
Dutch, some humorous, some thoughtful,
all around great reads. There’s no reason
we cannot reach out to our friends and family.
COVID-19 certainly hasn’t affected the
solidarity that our Club shares. I’m not sure
10 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 11
by Mary Ellen Brennan
Many Thanks & Pressing Forward
by Jan Essad & Sunita Menon
2020-2021 Membership Dues
AWC Membership dues for the 2020-2021
Club Year are payable September 1 and
will be effective until August 31, 2021.
Membership renewal will take place in Wild
Apricot, so please make sure to download
the app or create a login and password on the
AWC website if you have not already done
so. Depending upon whether we can open
the Clubhouse this summer, you may be able
to pay by PIN at the Clubhouse during office
hours. Dues remain the same as last year:
€ 110 for Regular and Associate Members,
€ 90 for Business/Professionals, € 55 for
Military (with valid military ID) and € 35 for
Students (with valid student ID).
Welcome New Members!
Update Your Information
It is very important to keep both your
email and mailing addresses accurate, so
you receive your eNews and Going Dutch
magazines in a timely fashion. If you have
moved recently, please change your address
in the Wild Apricot app and contact me at
with your updated address for Going Dutch.
Slate of Officers 2020-2021
We held a vote at the May 14 Virtual General Meeting and are pleased to announce
our new Club & Community Development Officer.
Club and Community Development Officer – Carin Elam:
The very first piece of advice offered when I told family and
friends that we were moving to the Netherlands in 2017, “Join the
American Women’s Club.” Although it took me awhile to get organized
and join the AWC, I was so happy to become a part of this
great group of lovely women. My family and I have lived in numerous
states, but this is our first expat experience and we’re truly
loving it. I have 17-year old boy/girl twins who attend ASH, and
my husband of 20 years works for a medical device company in
Amsterdam. I have nearly 20 years of experience as an IT/business
consultant. Last summer I completed a Master’s in International &
European Governance at Leiden University. Volunteering has been
a huge part of my life since high school. I currently also volunteer
at ASH, Democrats Abroad and Cooking for a Cause at a soup kitchen in The Hague. I
look forward to working with the talented women who will chair the various fundraising
and philanthropic AWC committees, especially as we think through creative solutions for a
(potential) socially-distant 2020/2021.
Where did that club year go? It’s hard
to believe it is June already and we
are looking back at the past two and
a half months of one of the most challenging
times many of us have ever lived through.
We have really missed seeing everyone… in
person anyway. While we couldn’t physically
meet to have our Board Installation or come
together to celebrate all who gave their time
and talents throughout the year at our Volunteer
and Honorary Member Luncheon, we can take
pride in all we did together throughout the year.
No one is more cherished in this
world than one who lightens the
burden for another.
~ John Southard
As many of you may know this was our second
year in the role of Clubhouse Administrators
and, unfortunately, our last to serve in this
position. We have certainly learned a lot and
enjoyed our journey. We find ourselves filled
with gratitude for EVERYONE who helped
us along the way, from the support and encouragement
of the Presidents and Board
Members we served with, to all the members
that worked so hard to keep our Club looking
fabulous. We could not have done it all
Many thanks go to our Front Desk Ladies
who gave of their time and talents not
only to extend a warm AWC welcome
to our Clubhouse, but also supported our
Member’s needs. Our sincere appreciation
to: Holly Savoie, Amber Gatewood, Pam
Schellekens, Georgia Regnault, Jessie
Rodell, Liduine Bekman, Hannah Gray,
Siska Datema, Dena Kreitler, Lindsay
Turnau, Heather DeWitt and Melissa
Rider. We are truly grateful for your spirit of
volunteerism over the last two years and your
Well what’s next? As we transition to our
next club year with a new Board, fresh ideas,
and new and creative ways of meeting and
working together, we’re reminded of a quote
by Marvin J. Ashton, “Enduring, or carrying
on, is not just a matter of tolerating circumstances
and hanging in there, but of pressing
forward.” Whatever circumstances we find
ourselves in, we have no doubt in the AWC
spirit, we will press forward and do what we
do best: support each other, volunteer and
preserve the legacy of our Club. It has been
our pleasure and privilege to serve an organization
that brings joy and support to so many,
not only within our Club but the community.
We look forward to seeing you (hopefully in
person and sometime soon!) at the Club!
Going Dutch is Available Online
Go to www.awcthehague.org to share
the current month’s issue with friends
and family. You will also find links to
our annual advertisers, whose support
makes this magazine possible. If you
visit or contact one of our advertisers,
let them know Going Dutch sent you!
12 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 13
From Reality to Virtuality
by Michelle Voorn
Many of us look forward to attending
one of the many Ongoing Activities
offered by our AWC The Hague;
for some, it’s a way to keep busy, for others
it means friendships, new and old. With
Prime Minister Rutte speaking of “Intelligent
Lockdown” and “Social Distancing” and new
restrictions about gatherings, we needed to get
creative to offer and provide help, support and
much needed fun! Enter Virtual Activities…
Going to Virtual activities can be a bit tricky:
searching for new ideas while relying on
volunteers who want to lead, organize and
virtually host. In order to keep everyone informed,
we rely on our weekly eNews delivered
straight to your inbox. However, the
most up-to-date resource is our online calendar,
which can be easily reached via the AWC
website or the very handy Wild Apricot app
(if you haven’t downloaded it yet, give it a
try!). Because attending virtual activities
means doing it via one of the online platforms
(Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc.) registration is
necessary via the online calendar or app in
order to generate an email with the link and
information for the “virtual” meeting.
Our regularly occurring virtual meetings are
Chat, Craft & Cake, Daytime and Evening
Book Clubs, Women in Business, Thirsty
Thursday and our monthly General Meeting.
Additionally, we’ve been able to schedule
Let’s Laugh! Yoga sessions, Quiz Night and
Woningsdag Virtual Market. Our Club is
also staying active on our private Facebook
group, sharing ideas from how to be mindful
during these times to favorite recipes or
These last few weeks have taught us that
distance is not always what keeps us apart;
we’ve proven that even from afar, we can
share and laugh. So, until this passes, we will
continue to offer our Members a way to see
each other and stay connected. Who knew
we’d go from being interested in virtual reality
to figuring out a real virtuality!
14 GOING DUTCH
Ongoing Virtual Activities
The AWC Book Clubs are open to all
readers, and new Members are especially
welcome! There are no requirements that
you must attend every meeting or lead
a discussion. There are two Book Clubs
hosted by AWC Members: One in the
daytime and one in the evening. Questions?
Teresa Mahoney organizes the daytime
group and can be reached at bookclubday@
awcthehague.org. Dena Haggerty handles
the evening meetings and can be reached
Adhering to social distancing guidelines,
our Book Clubs have been conducted
virtually since mid-March. Please check our
AWC online calendar or app to get the login
information for our virtual meetings and
to learn when we will transition to meeting
in person. Happy reading!
Daytime Virtual Book Club
June Selection: The
Club: Johnson, Boswell,
and the Friends Who
Shaped an Age by Leo
Harvard professor and
Leo Damrosch tells
the story of “the Club,”
a group of extraordinary
writers, artists and thinkers who started
gathering weekly in 1763 at a London tavern.
With the friendship of the “odd couple”
Samuel Johnson and James Boswell at the
heart of his narrative, Damrosch conjures
up the precarious, exciting and often brutal
world of late 18th-century Britain. This extraordinary
group of people helped to shape
their age, especially in terms of the arts, literature,
history, politics and economics.
Thursday, June 25
July Selection: The
Dutch House by Ann
At the end of WWII, Cyril
Conroy combines luck
and a canny investment
to begin an enormous real
estate empire, propelling
his family from poverty
to enormous wealth. As
a surprise for his wife, he
buys the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the
suburbs of Philadelphia, which sets in motion
the undoing of everyone he loves. Set
over the course of five decades, this dark
fairy tale is about their two children who
cannot overcome their past.
Thursday, July 23
August Selection: There
There by Tommy Orange
What does it really mean
to be an Indian/Native
American? Written by a
Cheyenne and Arapaho
author, this vivid debut
novel allows a unique
cast of 12 unforgettable
characters to explore this
question. They live in the
urban landscape of Oakland, California and
struggle with a wide array of challenges
ranging from depression and alcoholism, to
unemployment, fetal alcohol syndrome, and
the challenges of living with an ethnic identity
of being “ambiguously nonwhite.”
Thursday, August 27
Daytime Book Club Recap – March
If we intermingled the talents and styles of
J.D. Salinger and Jane Austen, would we get
something like Normal People, the second
novel of Irish writer Sally Rooney? Rooney,
age 29, has been compared favorably to both
iconic authors, perhaps because her novel
deals with young people navigating social
norms that confound them. Though Salinger
and Austen were mentioned in our March
meeting (facilitated by Google Hangout),
many of us thought Rooney has perfected a
spare and conversational style all her own.
Daytime Book Club Reading List:
Thursday, September 24: Girl, Woman,
Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Thursday, October 22: The Reader on the
6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
The story of Marianne and Connell, two
extremely intelligent high school and then
Trinity College students, who muddle their
way in and out of their relationship―even
as they never fall out of love―captivated us
all. Some thought the story sadder than others,
but all of us thought it was authentic and
moving and would endure “for 100 years.”
Daytime Book Club Recap – April
Hannah Beckerman was a feature writer for
the BBC and National Geographic before
choosing to write novels fulltime after the
birth of her children. Her first love is >> 16
JUNE 2020 15
Ongoing Activities (cont.)
Continued from page 15
actually psychotherapy, leading to a desire to
write about the struggles people have within
their interactions with others. The main
characters in If Only I Could Tell You are in
a dance around one another to avoid the real
issue between them: why Jess has refused to
speak to Lily for the past 30 years. Audrey
wants to bring her daughters together before
breast cancer takes her away. Both sisters
and their mother are chasing the ghosts
of Zoe, Jess’s twin, who died of leukemia
when Lily was 16 and Jess 10, and their father
who committed suicide shortly thereafter.
Our discussion led to heated sharing
about family secrets, sibling rivalries, weak
parenting, childhood trauma, grief, etc.
Some found the writing too much like the
script of a BBC mini-series and others were
quite into the effect trauma has upon those
in the throes of the event. There was agreement
that the ending was a bit too contrived.
We also discussed that reading and listening
to an audio version may very well lend to a
different connection with a novel, as some
found the story riveting, while others found
the novel disappointing.
Evening Virtual Book Club
June Selection: Eleanor
Oliphant is Completely
Fine by Gail Honeymoon
Eleanor Oliphant struggles
social skills and tends to
say exactly what’s on her
mind. Nothing is missing
in her carefully timetabled
life of avoiding social interactions.
changes when she meets Raymond, the
bumbling IT guy from her office. When they
together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman
who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become
the kinds of friends who rescue one
another from their lives of isolation.
Wednesday, June 10
Evening Book Club Recap – March
In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth
Gilbert writes an enthralling story of love,
adventure and discovery. Spanning the 18th
and 19th centuries, the main focus is Alma
Whittaker, a daughter of an ambitious and
wealthy father and a stoic hard-edged mother.
Alma has inherited her father’s brilliant
mind and becomes a gifted botanist while
living through an era of human history when
all the old assumptions about science, religion,
commerce, and class are challenged
and her own research takes her deeper into
the mysteries of evolution. While Alma appears
destined to lead her life as a single
independent woman, she is driven by her
intellectual and botanical interests as well
her desire to find love during her long life.
The book is set in a variety of locations including
Amsterdam and skillfully includes
several unforgettable characters. Our group
were full of praise for Gilbert’s ability to
write such a different type of novel to an
AWC favorite, The City of Girls. Gilbert’s
research and attention to detail is certainly
impressive. It is a long read, but it managed
to retain our attention and led to a lively discussion.
An absorbing page-turner!
Evening Book Club Recap – April
Meeting virtually in April did not affect the
intensity of our discussion. The Secrets We
Kept by Lara Prescott is based on a true
story centering around two women: one is
Boris Pasternak’s lover in the USSR and
one helps the CIA smuggle Pasternak’s
novel Doctor Zhivago back into the USSR.
Since women are often neglected in history,
our group was anxious to read the fictionalized
story. The discussion quickly turned
to the social equality of women in modern
society. Have the lives of women changed
since the 1950s? Are women still oppressed
and underappreciated? No one disagreed
about women being underappreciated! Our
agreement fell apart when discussing >> 18
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16 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 17
Ongoing Activities (cont.)
Continued from page 17
Prescott’s writing as some felt it was provincial,
while others were less disapproving.
We all agreed on the need for stories like this
to be told.
Virtual Chat & Craft
Chat, Craft & Cake is a weekly highlight
for those who enjoy crafts and camaraderie.
If you’re crafting at home and would like
company via a video conference call, then
join our group via a weekly Zoom conference
call; the link can be found on the AWC
online calendar or app. Contact Suzanne
Dundas at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information
10 a.m. – Noon
Correction to April issue,
Mayflower 400 article: page 46,
The Patuxets (not the Pokanoket)
had lived where the Pilgrims established
the town of Plymouth.
Members: eNews Distribution
A weekly electronic newsletter
is sent to all AWC Members.
If you have not been receiving your
eNews, please contact Heather at
Virtual BYOB Thirsty Thursday
Thirsty Thursday is a casual evening of
companionship and good conversation―a
favorite for AWC Members. We’re holding
Virtual Thirsty Thursday at least once
per month while we’re at home. Enjoy a
chat with friends while sipping a drink of
your choice. Please RSVP on the AWC online
calendar or app to receive the Google
Hangouts link via email.
7 – 9 p.m.
Virtual Women in Business
This is a networking group of women interested
in sharing information about starting
or maintaining a business in the Netherlands.
All are welcome, no matter what amount of
experience you may have with owning a
business. You will receive log-in details before
our virtual meeting after you RSVP on
the AWC online calendar or app. Feel free to
email Mary Ellen Brennan for more information
Friday, June 26
10 a.m. – Noon
Message from the Presidents (cont.)
Continued from page 8
by Melissa Rider,
AWC President, 2019-2020
Board Members —Mary Ellen
Brennan, Secretary; Michelle Voorn,
Communications Officer; Carin Elam,
Club & Community Development Officer;
and Sarah Dunn, Treasurer—in a myriad
of ways to keep the AWC spirit alive and
well. Their various skillsets will all be put
to good use as we focus on broadening our
reach to connect with existing Members and
to recruit new Members via Facebook posts,
blogs on our website, and video conference
Thank you to everyone who supported
and gave me encouragement during my
brief stint as President. I am most grateful
to Barbara Brookman for agreeing to
become the new AWC President. With her
strong leadership and vision, the AWC is in
by Barbara Brookman,
AWC President, 2020-2021
AWC App for Members
Wild Apricot, our membership management package, has a
free app that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store
or Google Play. Here you will find the latest information about
AWC events and activities. The app also provides contact
information for all our Members so you can stay connected
until Club activities resume.
still learn a few new tricks. Of course, it’s
not the first time that the AWC has had to
adjust. During World War II, Members
kept the Club operating as long as possible.
When the Germans began searching homes,
all Club documents were destroyed to protect
our Members. The library was closed,
and the books were hidden until after the
war. As we celebrate 75 years of freedom in
the Netherlands this year, I think of the risks
these women took and the debt we owe all
the women who came before us. I hope we
can be equally brave in the face of uncertainty.
Our Club’s 90th birthday is both an opportunity
to celebrate and reflect. I would like
to hear from all of you how we best celebrate
our anniversary throughout the year.
I’m sure a big birthday bash is in order. At
the same time, this is an opportunity to assess
how the Club continues to be relevant
to our Members. The Board and I will be
reaching out to hear from you how we can
best serve you, communicate with you and
stand for what you value most.
I can’t think of a more exciting time to
take on the Presidency of the American
Women’s Club of The Hague. Thank you
for this honor.
18 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 19
AWC: A Home Away from Home!
by Georgia Regnault
Home Away from Home: The AWC of the Hague has used this wonderful saying for
almost all of its 90 years. Basically, I believe its meaning was mostly referring to the
friendships found in clubs of this nature. However, in actuality, the AWC has really
always had a “home” for most of these 90 years, including owning a large house for 28 years.
This fall we will celebrate the 90th birthday of our Club. To prepare for this milestone, I
dove into the annals of the Club and learned about all of our “homes.”
Quoting from our 25th anniversary book: “True to our national genius for sociability, a
group of American women residing in The Hague gathered regularly at the hospitable home
of Mrs. E. Daniels, who was one of the oldest American residents. In 1930 when her health
began to fail, and in order to relieve her of this responsibility, it was felt the time had come
to organize an American Women’s Club.”
It continues: “The first meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Jesse van Wickel in the
beginning of August 1930. Four women attended, and it was agreed to send out invitations
to a luncheon to be held at the Hotel Vieux Doelen to all American women residing in The
Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and surrounding cities saying that as prospective Members
of the Club they could join at this luncheon.”
Fifty-five women gathered in 1930 for this luncheon. I am sure they all wore suits, hats
and gloves. At least all the old photographs seem to indicate that was the fashion of the time.
The AWC was started at that moment with 55 Charter Members.
From the beginning, the two main priorities of the AWC have been its philanthropic and
charitable endeavours and its English-language library. To house a library, the AWC needed
premises. The very first “home” was at the Hotel Vieux Doelen, which was located on the
Tournooiveld, where the ING Bank is now across from the former American Embassy. The
books, mostly donations from Members, were put in glassed-in cabinets which were open
twice a week for Members.
The collection increased greatly, so the Club had to find another place to house the
books. Restaurant Anjema was chosen (location unknown), but it didn’t last long as the restaurant
went bankrupt in 1933. It was then
that the Club found space on the Noordeinde
92, which today is the Tesselschade shop (I
would need another article to fully explain
this organization, but suffice to say that it is a
volunteer group, founded in 1871, in support
of economic independence for women).
During World War II, the AWC disbanded
and had to close the library, so the books
were housed in homes all over The Hague.
Upon reopening in 1946, the library was
expanded even more and became open to
non-American friends; thus, outside library
memberships were instituted. At that time,
20 GOING DUTCH
two-thirds of Membership dues went to the
library budget. In the late 50s, that property
had become too small, so once again the
Club packed up and moved to premises on
Vondelstraat in 1960.
Unfortunately, this was never a very
popular spot, and a Committee of Six researched
possibilities of where we could
move. Although American Protestant worship
was in in existence in The Hague since
1903, there was never a continuity of Sunday
services because of the lack of a location. In
1962, the American Protestant Church of The
Hague dedicated its new building on the Esther de Boer-van Rijklaan in Benoordenhout. This
building was originally the Protestant Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World Fair, but that is
another story as to how it was moved to its present location.
This was also fantastic for the AWC, as after some discussions, we were allowed to use the
large room on the first floor for our library. All 7,500 books were moved in 1963 to shelves
behind heavy wooden folding doors. We could also have our own phone line and hold our
Board Meetings in this space. All for a substantial “donation” to the church. We were “open
for business” four days per week and even one evening. And the best part about it was that
we didn’t interfere at all with the church’s activities.
This location more than sufficed for the purpose of the library, but for other Club activities,
we soon found we needed more space. Our monthly meetings were held in a hotel, always
with a program and a luncheon, which made
it expensive for our younger Members and
many of those married to Dutch citizens.
Also, the Club held a two-day rummage sale
every year to benefit American organizations
in the Netherlands. That meant that we
collected old clothes and jewelry from our
Members all year long, but these items had
to be stowed someplace. That “someplace”
was a Member’s garage; she was also willing
to hold bi-weekly gatherings at her house
to sort all the donations. We also always
had an annual Holiday Bazaar and usually a
December Charity Ball. All these activities
required many planning meetings, which had
to be held in Members’ homes.
Likewise, Going Dutch required the
Editor’s dining room table for two weeks
every month for the magazine staff to cut,
paste and proofread the final copy before it
went to the printer. Without computers, they
had a very formidable job.
All through the 70s, the Board had
several discussions with other American
JUNE 2020 21
A Home Away from Home (cont.)
Continued from page 21
organizations to “unite with each other” and consider buying a property to create an American
Community Center. However, financing a premise we didn’t completely own was not an
option the bank would allow.
In 1982, the AWC decided to go out on our own and research the possibilities. We had
almost 650 Members and had saved quite some funds through conservative budgeting each
year. The Board spent the next year with special Board and hastily assembled General
Meetings to discuss only this issue. Innumerable studies were conducted, meetings were
held with banks for financing options, and deadlines for the magazine were extended so that
news could get out to all Members.
At the General Meeting in February 1984, we were ready to vote to purchase a property.
When it was an overwhelming majority, the search could begin. We expected it could be
months, or at least weeks, before we would find anything appropriate, especially since housing
our library was a daunting task, as it had to be on the ground floor because of the weight of
the books. As luck would have it, the very next day, one of our Members saw the property
at Nieuwe Duinweg 25 in Scheveningen.
History was made. The AWC of The
Hague owned their first property: an 11-room
house with a large extension on the ground
floor, which was perfect for the library. The
house had a small front office, a large living
room and kitchen for our meetings, a
president’s office, a board/meeting room,
a two-room crèche for babies and toddlers,
a gift shop and offices on the top floor for
the magazine and FAWCO. Summer was
spent renovating, painting, moving, etc. In
November 1984, we held an official reception
and invited all the various companies that
had supported us―and they were numerous.
For 28 years, this property served us well, but as our Membership began to dwindle
steadily and the upkeep of the property was increasing, it was time to say goodbye. In 2012,
we sold the house and started working with a real estate agent to search for a replacement.
It was not easy to find our current Clubhouse, as we had several requirements: access for
handicapped as well as baby carriages, space for our library and a place for our meetings.
That is not even mentioning the acceptance by other tenants in a building. That Johan van
Oldenbarneveltlaan 43 also has good neighborhood parking, an outside area, a parking place
for two cars and place for bicycles was a big plus.
Due to the changes in living styles and the advent of the computer and cell phones, many
things can now be done on the move. However, I hope that the need for social interaction
will remain for the AWC for years to come. Johan van O. may not be perfect, but it is a place
to call once again, our “Home Away from Home,” just as we have done wherever we have
landed for the last 90 years.
22 GOING DUTCH
by Barbara Brookman
Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas, a United Nations NGO with
consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council
New FAWCO Target Project
During an unprecedented virtual Interim
Meeting in late March, FAWCO announced
that S.A.F.E. (Safe Alternatives for Female
Genital Mutilation) will be FAWCO’s
2020 – 2022 Target Project. The project by
HOPE for Girls & Women Tanzania will
support safe houses for girls fleeing forced
female genital mutilation (FGM), and provide
healthcare and counseling for girls and
women who have experienced FGM. It will
also provide education to girls and the community
at large, strengthening social cohesion,
promoting positive social change and
increasing the capacity of women and girls
to live free of violence.
According to the UN, 32% of women between
15 to 49 report having undergone
FGM in the Mara region of Tanzania. FGM
modifies the female genitalia for non-medical
reasons, a practice grounded in cultural
traditions which risks the lives of girls and
results in lifelong health complications. This
human rights violation can lead to extreme
bleeding, recurrent bladder and urinary tract
infections, infertility, complications during
childbirth and newborn deaths. FGM perpetuates
a cycle that sustains gender inequality
and limits girls’ potential. Founded by
Rhobi Samwelly, herself a victim of FGM,
HOPE advocates to end this and other harmful
practices affecting women and children in
Tanzania. More information can be found on
the FAWCO website at www.bit.ly/2Wqkmpi.
Other Grants and Recognition
Julie Mowat, who served as AWC The
Hague FAWCO Rep for many years, received
a FAWCO Rep Appreciation award.
Phoebe Turner, the daughter of ex-member
Brooks Turner received the Arts Award
and two organizations supported by our
Club received $5,000 Development Grants:
Bridge2Hope provides social services to
undocumented victims of human trafficking.
Most undocumented victims were smuggled
as children into the Netherlands and have
been sexually abused and criminally exploited
for decades. Bridge2Hope combines
social field expertise with behavioral science
research. A group mentoring method is
used to stabilize, rehabilitate and reintegrate
sexually exploited victims. The grant will
provide physical, psychosocial and medical
support for stabilization by providing a safe
space to gain victim trust needed to recover
from psychological traumas.
The Stahili Foundation’s 1 Million in
Mind Project seeks to create sustainable
change through improving case management
and counselling support to provide
critical training to improve referrals, health
and well-being. The grant will help hire a
lead counsellor in collaboration with local
authorities, and allow Stahili to further develop
training materials and provide technical
assistance through training. This will
build the capacity, skills, and knowledge of
health and social service (para)professionals
to support and promote the health and
well-being of children in Kenya’s Murang’a
County, which is home to one million people,
more than half of whom are children.
JUNE 2020 23
The Dutch Daily
by Eileen Harloff
When I first came to Europe/the Netherlands/
The Hague at the end of the 1950s, a fellow
American colleague offered to show me
around town. In those days, WWII was still
alive in people’s memories and their daily
lives. Cars were few and far between with
the result being that the air was cleaner, the
streets had no potholes, and there were not
throngs of people on the inner-city streets.
People walked or cycled; bike paths were
not the norm and moving vehicles shared
the roads with sometimes disastrous situations
as when the plastic bag of groceries
that hung over my handlebars broke, and
I had to quickly scamper about the street
gathering up my fruit and vegetables before
a car came along. My new colleague,
Sam, was one of the few people I'd met
who had a car―an old, noisy Volkswagen
that could be heard from inside your rooms
as he came down the street. He generously
shared his treasure with others by picking
up and taking home young adult members
of the weekly group he had set up to discuss
current affairs with expats and Dutch who
had spent a year or so in America at various
schools and universities.
Sam offered to show me some of The
Hague’s interesting and unusual sites. We
began with the famous red-light district
where young, loosely clad females were
posing in the windows of the houses. Their
rooms were illuminated with red lights,
past which men of all ages were sauntering,
looking the field over and irritated with the
nosey people in the slow-moving car. All I
wanted was to get out of the area and not
come back. I must emphasize that Sam was
not himself a visitor to the red-light area, but
that he considered it to be one of the city’s
sites to see, which in those days it most certainly
my daily newspaper reporting that the city
fathers are intending to rehouse the raam
(window) prostitutes. At the same time, I
learned from my neighbor that she is a volunteer
with several organizations that have
contacts with young women who are trying
to get out of sex work and start a new life.
Oftentimes these women have come from
Eastern Europe and have been promised
jobs in this country, only to find that instead
they are slaves to men who have brought
them here, have taken their passports and
keep them out of sight. Not knowing the language,
they have nowhere to turn. However,
should they have the opportunity to come
in contact with a fellow prostitute who is a
member of the prostitute trade union, they
could be helped.
So now the city wants to take over the
streets where the prostitutes live and work
and move them to a new location with modern
quarters. Their old rooms will be torn
down and replaced with high-rise buildings
containing flats, offices and showrooms. It
will be the end of a neighborhood, but not
of its reason raison for being. That will continue
until the end of time.
It’s not just old neighborhoods that are being
renewed wherever possible throughout
The Hague. New housing, neighborhoods
and businesses have all been cropping up.
One of the well-known shops that has reinvented
itself is in the neighborhood of our
Clubhouse, on the Frederik Hendriklaan
or “the Fred” as it is known. It’s Paagman,
the bookshop that is a hub for many expats
and Dutch alike, who meet up for coffee or
lunch, for finding a card, magazine, or all
kinds of office supplies, plus a playroom
for the kids, etc. There are also talks by
authors about their latest books. The only
thing that is missing now is the post office,
whose disappearance is undoubtedly due to
the electronic age. Who now, aside from old
people, sends cards, letters, and other hand
and computer written messages? In its place
there is now an English bookstore where it
can be assumed that all the latest books will
be on sale.
An Invention is Softening Falls
In the Netherlands, around 25,000 hip
fractures occur every year. The good news
for older people and those who tend to
fall is there’s a new Dutch invention that
helps protect hips: the Wolk Airbag (www.
wolkairbag.com), a band worn under
clothing resting on the hips that registers
all movements. When it detects that a fall
has taken place, the bag fills with air within
one tenth of a second to absorb the blow. At
the same time, a message is sent to a contact
person with, based on GPS, the location of
the person who has fallen.
This hip airbag
named the Best
of 2020 for
in the preliminary
for the Dutch
Innovation Award. Developed in conjunction
with TU Delft and LUMC, it is being
tested in 15 nursing homes with 1,100
clients, with one already reporting half as
many broken hips as usual have occurred
since its introduction.
Speaking of bones, paleontologists working
in Myanmar have discovered a birdlike
skull of one of the smallest dinosaurs
to have ever lived embedded in a fragment
of 99-million-year-old amber. The head was
about the size of a bee hummingbird, the
smallest living bird, and the eyes resembled
those of a lizard. It had a surprising number
of sharp teeth, so might have eaten insects
despite its tiny size. This find may shed light
on how small birds evolved from dinosaurs.
The place where it was found was formerly
on a chain of islands that later joined together
to form the present country.
“Our next holiday is
a safari. They do
the whole world!”
“They make booking a
holiday so easy. I just
leave it to them!”
“Every trip is
customized, just for
me! That’s unique!”
Just the other day this long-ago experience
came to mind when an article appeared in
24 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 25
Thoughts of Margraten on the First Day of May
by Roberta Enschede
On Sunday, May 25 at 3 p.m., I will not be at Margraten waiting for the Memorial Day
Ceremony to begin. Because of the coronavirus, this is the only time since May 30,
1945, that there will be no public ceremony. I have gone every year since I was first
overwhelmed by “the voices in its air,” voices of endless sadness and youthful courage.
Before and after the Ceremony, I always walk through the rows and rows of gleaming
white marble crosses and scattered Stars of David. I stand in the lush green grass and look
out. The crosses and stars seem to blend into each other. I think they were meant to do that.
At Margraten, there are no differences. The 8,301 buried, including 5 women, and the
1,722 men whose names are carved on the walls of the Court of Honor on the Tablets of the
Missing have one voice. It speaks to us of freedom and how they were willing to die for it.
The words of Pericles chiseled in white marble over the Reflecting Pool say it all:
Resistance would go back to just living. Kids would walk to school and not be tempted to
pick up cookie crumbs from a gutter like my husband once did because he was little and
At the Mayor of Margraten’s Reception after the Memorial Day Ceremony a few years
ago, I met Nancy, a charming elderly lady from Iowa who was still running the family farm.
She wore a button on her dress with a photo of a young man who looked just like her. She
told me it was her first time back at Margraten since 1949 when the family sent her over
to “check on her brother.” They were deciding whether to bring him home. When she saw
Margraten and met the people who adopted his grave, she went back to Iowa and told her
folks, “He’s well taken care of.” You feel that when you see the thousands of Dutch people
who come to Margraten with their entire families. To them, every day is a Memorial Day.
When this pandemic subsides, we will be able to visit Margraten once more on Memorial
Day when the pink and maroon velvet rhododendrons are in bloom. This year, there can only
be a restricted ceremony, but thousands will remember. The home of the 10,023 Americans
of Margraten is in “the minds of men” and in each and every one of us who understand and
know that freedom is not, and never will be, free.
Each for his own memorial earned praise that will never die and with it the grandest of
all sepulchers not that in which his mortal bones are laid, but a home in the minds of men.
Over and over, I’ve read those words and found myself thinking, who were these heroes
who will always have a place in the minds of men?
What did they know when they left high school, college or a job to join up, fight for
freedom and answer the call, “Uncle Sam wants You!” Did they know they would die before
they had a single white hair or could say the words “I do” or answer to the word “Daddy?”
Did they know they would rest together in the rolling hills of Limburg outside Margraten, a
little Dutch town in the southernmost part of the Netherlands they surely had never heard of?
Did the farm boys, grocery clerks, delivery boys, truck drivers, mechanics, minor league
ball players waiting for a chance to go to “the show, ” future doctors, lawyers, scientists know
that their lives would end so far from Alabama, New York, Maine, Illinois, Kansas, Texas,
California, across 48 states? Did they know they wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to Mom
and Dad and their little sisters and brothers? Could they know that Dutch people would
adopt every one of their graves and their comrades in arms who are still missing. Could they
know that 75 years later, even Dutch children would talk about “their soldier” and come with
their families to bring flowers on a birthday or the day they died, or a Christmas decoration
on a chill December day?
The Dutch have never forgotten. They know that because these young men were willing
to fight and die, Holland was freed, freed from: The Hunger Winter, Razzias (the banging
and kicking on doors to pull out Jews), deportations to slave labor and extermination camps,
and summary executions in places like Putten.
On May 5, 1945―Liberation Day―the joy and goodness of life would once more become
the way of life. Shattered Rotterdam would be rebuilt from the rubble of the bombing
and farmers would grow asparagus in Limburg, strawberries in the Betuwe and tulips in the
loamy soil near the North Sea. People would put a vase of tulips on the dinner table, not
mashed tulips bulbs in a bowl for dinner. Jewish people hiding in cellars, attics and barns
would once more walk in the sunshine and the blessings of the rain. Men and women in the
26 GOING DUTCH
Your Vote is Your Voice
If you have not registered to vote and requested your Absentee
ballot, DO IT NOW!
Overseas Americans MUST register every year.
Go to Federal Voting Assistance Program at www.FVAP.gov to
download the Federal Postcard (FPCA) to:
2) Request an Absentee Ballot
Possible Mail Disruptions Due to COVID-19
1) Send in your FPCA digitally. It is also a good idea to mail a copy.
Don’t forget to use Dutch stamps!
2) Request that your ballot be sent digitally. Just to make sure, also
request a mailed ballot.
MAKE CERTAIN! Two or three weeks after you’ve requested registration
and a ballot, check with your voting district to make certain
your registration is in order.
New Jersey: July 7
Louisiana: July 11
Connecticut: August 11
Questions: 065.425.3650 or email@example.com
JUNE 2020 27
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
3 4 5 6
Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake
7 8 9
Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake
Virtual June General
Meeting 10 a.m.
Buddy Check 12
Virtual Evening Book Club
14 15 16
Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake
Virtual BYOB Thirsty
Thursday 6 p.m.
21 22 23
Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake
Virtual Daytime Book Club
Virtual Women in Business
28 29 30
Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake
28 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 29
Anne van Oorschot is Knighted!
by Emily van Eerten
Enormous congratulations are in order to our former
AWC President, Anne van Oorschot-Warwick! King’s
Day is traditionally the day of the Lintjesregen, where
exceptional citizens are recognized for their contributions to
Dutch society. On April 24, Anne received the call that she
had been named a Knight in the Order of Oranje Nassau for
her many years of volunteer work. She joins three other AWC
notables: Roberta Enschede, Georgia Regnault and Jane
Choy with this tremendous recognition. Unfortunately, there
could be no surprise ceremony this year, but they will arrange
a suitable event when restrictions have eased. Congratulations,
Anne was born and educated in Minnesota. She moved
to the Netherlands in 1981 and married Hein van Oorschot
the following year. In addition to raising their three children,
Anne kept very busy as a volunteer at a variety of organizations.
She played an active role when her husband served as
Mayor of Delft from 1997 to 2004, leading to her election
as Delft Citizen of the Year in 2002. She became a Dutch
citizen in 2003.
Shortly after relocating to the
Netherlands, Anne became a Member of
the AWC. She served as FAWCO Rep from
2002 – 2004 and President from 2004 – 2006.
In addition, she has been active at FAWCO
since 2007 as co-chair of the Environment
Team. From 2009 – 2013, Anne was the chair
of FAWCO’s first Target Program, which
raised $162,500 for Tabitha Wells for Clean
Water in Cambodia.
Tilburg International Club, an expat club for
families with around 100 members and served
on its board for 10 years as President and
Membership Chair. Since 2010, she has been
a member of the Board of the Vrienden van
Hospice De Sporen in Tilburg and is currently
part of an initiative group to start a new hospice
in the city. In the past, she founded the support
ribbon for Dutch military in Afghanistan. In
addition, she was a member of the participation
council (PTA) of two elementary schools in
The Hague and Tilburg for a total of five years.
30 GOING DUTCH
After moving to Tilburg in the southern
part of the country in 2006, Anne started the
Letter from the (Pandemic) Editor
by Suzanne MacNeil
It’s nice to be back in the fold for this edition of Going Dutch, although I wish it were under
better circumstances. The following special section of our magazine is not only for those
of us who experienced a one-of-a-kind pandemic, but also to help the Club document this
historic period when the world, and AWC The Hague, changed the way we went about our
lives. Some of the stories that follow are somber, others are a bit more light-hearted, but all of
them are transcendent and important markers for us and future generations of our Members.
Personally, I didn’t pay attention when the pandemic started in Wuhan, China. Neither
did I give it much thought when I read about the virus reaching the US via Washington state.
Instead, I was knee-deep trying to organize our repat lives. It wasn’t until rumblings about
a toilet paper shortage started making their way across US social media that I started to pay
attention. I went to the store to stock up (not hoard) on certain items. I was too late.
The scarcity of basic goods, including fresh meat, frozen
foods, over-the-counter medications, and pantry items, was
mind-boggling. The empty shelves plus a deep-seated feeling
of doom was nothing I had ever experienced, not even
during all those years living in Florida and hunkering down
for hurricanes. I’ve worried about my family, including my
89-year-old mother isolated in an independent living complex
in Jacksonville, and I worry about my daughter-in-law (as of
June 20) who is an emergency room physician in Boston. Mo’s
first-hand accounts about COVID-19 patients crowding the ER, and how the medical staff had
to reuse their personal protection equipment (PPE) throughout their shifts, were frightening.
It wasn’t until more than six weeks into the pandemic that
Mo found, and bought, a medical respirator online. When I asked
her what PPE she considers a must-have, she said a face mask,
something she and my son wear even when doing such mundane
tasks as walking their dog.
Nashville reopened on June 1,
but it will take me quite a while
before I feel comfortable going to
crowded restaurants, not standing
six feet from others in a store, and not looking at strangers as
asymptomatic carriers. I will likely wear a face mask in public
until we receive an all-clear from medical professionals. My
hope for the world is that it comes out on the other side of
this crisis a softer and gentler place for everyone. My hope
for you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors is that
you all stay safe, healthy, sane, and maintain a sense of humor.
Many thanks to Members in the Netherlands and the US
who shared their stories,
JUNE 2020 31
Homeschooling…We Found Our Way!
by Lara Regnault
Day 1: Monday, March 16, two days before my eldest daughter’s 10th birthday, was our
first day for home schooling during the Dutch COVID-19 “Intelligent” Lockdown.
As my husband made his way to the office (our attic), I had no idea where to start.
Luckily, we have quite a few educational kids’ books, so I put them on the dining room table.
My daughters and I sat down. At first, we simply stared at the collection of books and then
two pairs of beautiful, hopeful and questioning eyes stared up at me. The girls, although
somewhat anxious about what kind of teacher I would be, also definitely embraced this opportunity
to spend a different type of time with me. I, on the other hand, had no idea where
to start or what to do. The girls are two years apart in age and their characters differ so much
that I could only assume the way they learn differed as well. How was I to do it and how
could I best help them?
Day 2: Fortunately, the school jumped in and sent us a weekly schedule of what the
kids had to do.
Day 3: I was able to pick up their school supplies and a Chromebook. We put our garden
table in the living room and placed all the school stuff, laptops etc, there. By doing so, we
created a separate classroom area for us to sit together.
Day 4: I decided to call in the troops (Oma Georgia) for English classes. It was one of
the tips for homeschooling I had read online; include a grandparent in the kids’ schoolwork
via video calling. From that day on, every morning at 11:15 a.m., Oma read to the girls via
FaceTime. We were lucky that she had the American Girl Samantha series of six books at her
house. Since Samantha was a girl from the year 1907, these stories became an English lesson,
a history lesson, a distraction for Oma, and a break for teacher Mama. A win-win all around!
Somewhere between Day 5 and Day 13: “Mom, how do I do this calculation?” Lord
help me, I had no idea.
Day 6, 7, 8 and so on: Surely there have been moments, while finding our way in this
new reality. One of us had a breakdown of some sort, but overall we definitely found our
way. In the process, I have gained even more respect for the teachers helping us shape our
Also, quite honestly, I am enjoying this bubble
we are currently in. We are happy with the four of
us. We really like each other’s company and feel
very blessed to have all we need to get us through
these difficult times, particularly because we realize
things are certainly different in other households.
I also realize we are tremendously lucky that I
am currently in-between jobs, therefore able to fully
focus on the children and their schoolwork while
my husband works full-time from home. Once I go
back to work, I can only hope the kids are back in
school full-time. If not, then we shall also find a way.
32 GOING DUTCH
Pregnant During the Pandemic
by Amber Gatewood
After leaving The Hague in late November
(or seemingly a lifetime ago!), and luckily
spending time with family in the US, I
reunited with my husband in Singapore on January
17 for our second expat assignment. Little did we
know, the pandemic was about to rock the world
prompting his company to call us back to the US
pronto. We hastily exited the Lion City on March
21 (the day before Singapore closed its borders)
and arrived in Houston just as Stay home – Work
safe orders were mandated.
I’ve since entered my third trimester of pregnancy,
met my fourth obstetrician on a third continent
via telehealth, and waved to some good ‘ole AWC
friends from the sidewalk. We closed on our house
on April 30 and left our tiny corporate apartment
in the rear view, where at times I felt like I was on
bed rest! I’m thankful for good health, friends who
keep me stocked with essentials so I can avoid big
Texas grocery stores, and my recent Girl Scout
cookie delivery! Stay safe, my friends.
Random Thoughts During the Pandemic
by Ginny Mees
must say I quite like working from home. I keep my laptop on my kitchen island so I
can alternate between sitting and standing, and I’m connecting with family and friends
via Zoom parties. I love that our 20-year-old son has been home with us for the past few
months since his university classes are done for the year. He is staying active with online art
programs, doing photography, and has done a series called ISOLATION. I hope that certain
aspects of this time remain. I see families spending much more time together, and actually
enjoying it. Parents are teaching children how to rollerblade, cycle and other activities. Our
family has embraced card games and a couple of hilarious games of Pictionary…with a
clear generation gap!
During our time at home, we rotate who is responsible for the meal, including planning,
prepping and cooking, while others clean up. I’ve stayed grounded by doing Morning Flow
Yoga every morning with Adriene, which is free on YouTube. And, to stay protected from
the virus, I always wear latex gloves when I leave the house.
Stay well everyone.
JUNE 2020 33
Repatriating During Covid-19
by Julie Mowat
After eight years of living in the Netherlands, Jim and I planned to repatriate in June
2020 when Jim would transfer to the office in Washington, DC. We were really looked
forward to this new adventure in our lives, especially as empty nesters.
Several friends in Asia had been dealing with this awful
virus called COVID-19. It seemed scary and I wondered if
it would be a problem for people in Europe and the US as
well. Once it was clear it was going to be a global issue,
my optimistic husband relented and agreed we should go
back early to the US. We called the airlines on March 15 to
book our flights to leave on March 26 with the packers and
movers to work on the 23rd. The airline reservationist said
they only had flights scheduled for the week before and she
highly recommended that we leave ASAP. We booked our
fights for the 17th which gave us only two days to do an
Those two days were probably the most hectic of our lives, and without wonderful friends
and neighbors, it couldn’t have happened. We managed to pack our bags, figure out what
would go in the 300-pound air shipment, label items for the movers, get needed medicine,
find a friend to supervise our move the following week, find a pet sitter until we could get
our cat home, find someone to take the things the movers didn’t take, sell both cars, settle
utilities, sign necessary paperwork, and the list went on.
We decided to move to our townhouse in Colorado first since we knew we would need
to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Then we would eventually make our way to DC.
First, we flew into Dulles Airport. The plane was spotless and not a single cough or sneeze
was heard throughout the entire flight. After we landed, we were escorted to a building filled
with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) personnel in full personal protection
equipment (PPE). They asked us a few questions and sent us on our way. We then flew
on to Colorado. I was glad we had masks upon arrival as our taxi driver insisted we wear
them. It was a bit surreal.
We are now staying at our place in Colorado for who knows how long. My husband is
working in the basement; our son Brian, who has always worked from home, has his home
studio set up; our son Ben is in his room doing online courses and working as a campaign
manager for a woman running for state senate in Iowa; and I search for places to quietly
hang out in the house, take walks and try to stay occupied.
By our side is our cat Doublestuf who couldn’t fly
home with us due to no flight availability for pets. He
stayed behind with a cat sitter, and then had a travel saga
of his own. When a spot on a flight finally opened, the
driver taking him to Schiphol forgot his pet passport; the
pet sitter didn’t have the driver’s phone number and tried
to chase him down by car; she didn’t have money so she
couldn’t park at the airport; and finally, a neighbor called
and connected everyone. Doublestuf made his flight!
34 GOING DUTCH
While this is not the way I wanted to leave my amazing community in the Netherlands,
I am incredibly grateful to have made it back home to be with our boys and closer to family.
The relief that it has brought our parents is immense. As I write this, my niece and her
fiancé (they are about an hour away from us) have been diagnosed with COVID-19. He is a
paramedic and most likely got it from a patient. It is a scary time!
I wish you all the best of health and a big thank you for your friendship throughout the
years. The AWC has given me so much and I will always be grateful!
Lots of love…
Baking, Grocery Shopping, and Favorites
by Celeste Brown
Wednesday has become baking day for me. I bake something yummy in the morning
and in the afternoon my husband makes several stops to drop off the goodies for
the grandkids (and moms and dads) to enjoy. Since I don’t see them, I can still do
that. It makes me happy and I KNOW it makes them happy too!
I hope I will never take for granted the freedom to go outside for a walk. We are SO fortunate
that our physical mobility outdoors hasn’t been limited as it has in some other countries.
It is a blessing to be able to take a long walk to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature...to
work out frustrations...to exercise... A walk outside is simply divine and very therapeutic. I
hope I’ll always remember this.
Many of our neighbors take advantage of the grocery delivery services. Not me! A trip
to Albert Heijn can be the highlight of my day. I’ve always enjoyed cruising grocery store
aisles and am appreciating the less crowded stores. And, I give a personal thank you to the
staff. You can tell by their reactions that they aren’t thanked nearly enough.
Due to the “intelligent” lockdown these last few months:
* My wardrobe is either black or
brown slacks and one of three zipup
* I watched Unorthodox on Netflix
and it’s my favorite best binged series
* The best book I read is Our Man
in Havana by Graham Greene
* I discovered I can live without
wine as I haven’t had a sip since
* My favorite comfort food is one
piece of cake each day
* And, finally, I’ve been in isolation
so long that my daily highlight
is food prepping by cutting up
mounds of veggies!
JUNE 2020 35
Family Medical Emergency and
FAWCO’s Interim Meeting
by Emily van Eerten
Over the winter our daughter had been to the doctor with
some issues and she had bloodwork, “just to rule out this
really rare condition.” She was diagnosed with Cushing’s
Disease and would need surgery as soon as possible to remove a
tumor from her pituitary gland. It was decided a specialist team
was needed, and an ER slot, She would take medication first to
help prepare her body from going from the “giga-extreme” levels
of cortisol her body was manufacturing to zero after surgery. On
the one hand, that was protocol. On the other, they had never seen
such high levels and they didn’t want to wait too long. A date was
set three weeks in the future -- the day the FAWCO conference
was scheduled to start.
There is something indescribably magical and inspiring being in a room
with people who share your life’s song, your experiences, your interest in
the world and its welfare.
As President of FAWCO, I had been working freakishly hard preparing for the Biennial
FAWCO conference in Luxembourg, the weekend of March 20-22.
The agenda was packed with sessions on global and U.S. issues, philanthropy and club
management. These gatherings are known as the breeding ground for what we joyfully refer
to as “FAWCO Fever.” There is something indescribably magical and inspiring being in a
room with people who share your life’s song, your experiences, your interest in the world and
its welfare. The idea of having to miss it was devastating for me, and the board, but I clung to
the idea that surely, they would move her surgery up. Meanwhile, the mysterious virus was
starting to spread.
We were at Leiden University Medical Center fairly regularly
during this time, as the hospital is a destination specialist research
center for this rare disease. Not only did she have the full attention
of the endocrinology department, the researchers were practically
running down the corridors to greet my daughter and ask her to enroll
in multiple studies. On one occasion, they took 15 vials of blood.
But the mood was changing in the hospital. They first announced
that they wouldn’t be shaking hands anymore. Then they started
clearing their agendas. Policlinic appointments were cancelled for
all but the most serious of cases, and my daughter’s case met that
threshold. We went for an MRI and one researcher commented that she was planning to attend
some professional conferences that week, but that others had been put on hold. The other said
that everyone had been told to work from home, that my daughter’s visit would be his last
contact with any of the study subjects until we were through the crisis.
36 GOING DUTCH
For FAWCO we were watching the news and the World Health Organization’s website
VERY carefully. “Most” of the FAWCO countries were only lightly affected, but in the last
week of February, FAWCO had its first reluctant cancellation. Two weeks later, there still
had only been a handful of people withdrawing. We wrote to the registrants on March 6,
“The Interim Meeting is On.” We told the registrants that we understood that some people
would have to cancel, but after weighing the evidence we felt it was appropriate to move
forward. But then we started to hear from those in FAWCO with more detailed information.
A professional immunologist wrote to say that even though the WHO had not declared a
pandemic, holding a FAWCO gathering was risky as people would be traveling from many
countries and then traveling home. We had people with medical and scientific backgrounds
advising us. We were evaluating the size of our meeting rooms and as we had a conference
room that would accommodate 300 people and we were only expecting 150, assuming we
were going to take the necessary precautions, we were still thinking we could go ahead.
Meanwhile, at the hospital, hand sanitizer appeared at the front door and everyone was
using it. People didn’t want to share an elevator anymore and there was no need, as there
were hardly any people in the building. On Monday, March 9, we got the call that her surgery
had been moved up to March 11th, that she would be admitted on the 10. A renowned Italian
doctor had been scheduled to do a week of specialist surgeries, but Italians weren’t allowed
to travel anymore, so there were suddenly slots available in the ER. When she checked
into her room, her four-bed ward was half empty. We still had to do more tests and as we
went around from department to department it felt eerie. The surgery went well, but as they
warned us, the effect on her body was extreme those first few days. She was miserable, and
the visitation policy changed. It wasn’t simply a two-person limit, they had to be the SAME
two people on any given day. As people were discharged from the hospital, the beds were
not given to others. They were left empty.
With respect to the FAWCO conference,
the situation evolved by the hour and we finally
decided that the best course of action was to
officially cancel. At that point we were contractually
liable for the meeting expenses and
thought we could go ahead and at least have our
board meetings and maybe try to have some of
the planned workshops, depending on which
of our volunteers were still planning to come.
It was our hope that the pressure would be off
and that only those who felt safe would come. At
the time, we’d only had a dozen cancellations.
There were still people who wanted to gather!
But on March 11, the WHO finally declared a pandemic and countries far and wide announced
extensive travel restrictions. We wrote again to our registrants and told them don’t
come to Luxembourg, there would be no meetings of any kind.
We agreed to fully refund registration fees. We negotiated with the hotel. No one really
knew what was going to happen, certainly not FAWCO, but also not the hotel. Under our
contract, cancelling the conference eight days before it was supposed to happen meant that
we were obligated for 100%. As a lawyer, though I could appreciate our legal situation, what
we really needed was to work on the human consequences.
At this point having to deal with a daughter recovering from brain surgery and the
financial uncertainties of an organization in a time of crisis, I was extremely grateful to have
JUNE 2020 37
Medical Emergency and FAWCO’s
Interim Meeting (cont.)
Continued from page 37
an exceptional board. One of the best decisions they took was to contact another member who
had extensive experience in the hotel industry and was a native French speaker with a charming
personality. With her help we were quickly able to negotiate a mostly satisfactory agreement
with the hotel. They would allow us to rebook our conference in 2022, without further penalty,
if we would agree to hold an extra, smaller event in the fall. Luckily, many of our members in
Europe had already rebooked their hotel from the cancelled March conference to the November
regional meeting. The hotel was satisfied and agreed to release those who couldn’t come in
November. Throughout this process, I was relieved that the people we were hearing from were
reasonable and civil.
At this point having to deal with a daughter recovering from brain
surgery and the financial uncertainties of an organization in a time of
crisis, I was extremely grateful to have an exceptional board.
Of course the failure to meet in March was not only a contractual and financial headache, it
also meant that we had to find many creative ways to disseminate the information we’d planned
to reveal during the meeting. I’m pleased to say that within one week we had organized several
virtual meetings. We had two Zoom sessions on the original conference Saturday, announcing
the selection of our major Target Health Project for 2020-21. We revealed the recipients
of our Education Awards, Development Grants and the winner of the FAWCO Foundation
25th Anniversary Quilt. We arranged for an impromptu live Auction on Facebook Live which
brought in a comparable amount of money to what we were expecting had we actually done
it live and in person. We have scheduled virtual workshops to replace our UN workshops, our
Voting workshop, our Youth Workshops and even one of the lighter “Energy Breaks” that we
had planned. A Laughter Yoga session was able to be rescheduled online. Organizationally,
we had dodged a bullet.
And at home, my daughter returned from the hospital and her recovery has gone very well.
It was a bonus for her that the government cancelled national exams so that there is no stress
whatsoever about whether or not she will pass them during recovery, since she won’t have to take
them. It certainly hasn’t hurt that the rest of the world is also stuck at home while she recovers
without any FOMO (fear of missing out). My other children returned from their homes abroad.
With six in the house, we are happy that we can spend this time of confinement together, each
with his own room, and an internet connection that allows us all to work from home.
Although the month of March was a time of confinement, it was also a time of gorgeous
weather. We appreciated our opportunity to go outside for our “frisse neus,” the ability to share
meals with each other, and our ability to connect with others, particularly AWC and FAWCO
Masks for Members
by Erin Baker, AWC Philanthropy Chair
My name is Erin Baker and I’m the new AWC
Philanthropy Chair. I moved to Wassenaar
from The Woodlands, Texas in July 2019.
My husband works for ExxonMobil, so we have
lived in many different places. I paused my career
in education when our children were very small, but
found as we moved around that I was always drawn
to work with families and children, even if it wasn't
a paying job. The volunteer and philanthropic opportunities
that I've been blessed with have been a
source of consistency in our many moves and have
helped me to educate my own children about the importance
of doing good in the world, no matter where
you are. I am eager to coordinate our organization's
efforts to help those in the community around us.
In April, AWC Philanthropy started a Masks for
Members Project. I was happy to take on this effort
as my first responsibility as a committee chair. This
was a meaningful way to help our community
members as well as hopefully make an impact on
the greater health of our society. As an organization, we are fortunate to have talented and
generous sewers and crafters who volunteered to sew face masks for AWC Members and
their families. During the first round of mask making and distribution, 78 masks were requested
by 18 Members. I coordinated the pick-up and delivery of the masks, but credit goes
to the following ladies who volunteered to sew, obtain materials, and find and adapt a proper
pattern and instructions: Beverley Bennet, Barbara Brookman, Heather Dewitt, Glenda
Ohr, Dory Ritchie, Marilyn Tinsay, Cynthia Veeger and Michelle Voorn.
Thanks also to Members
who donated money and
materials toward the Masks
for Members effort. It was
truly worthwhile to be able
to see our Members help
each other stay safe while
knowing that this could
benefit the health of others
in our communities.
Although we are by no means at the end of this crisis, it does at least feel like we are at the
end of the beginning. As we move into many more months of social distancing I hope that we can
hold firm, not letting this virus get the best of us, and making plans for a solid future for us all.
38 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 39
View from My Window
Terri M Amber G Tove M
Surviving Two World Crises
by Sheila Gazaleh
It was late February and I was just back from a short family reunion in London for the
birthdays of my son and granddaughter. For this to be possible, we made the usual arrangements
for Albert, my artist partner (whose paintings still hang at the AWC Clubhouse), to
stay at his usual care home. We were unaware of what was about to transpire. I returned and
we picked up where we had left off and life was pretty normal. It was during the weeks that
followed that word of the then epidemic in China started to circulate and gradually increase.
Then came the lockdown and we mused on how things might have been, had it happened
while I was away.
We have the advantage over younger couples of being used to comparative isolation, for
health and age, and have a suitable and pleasant home with a small garden just big enough
for me to manage. Add to that the fact that during much of the lockdown, the Netherlands
experienced exceptional weather with constant sunshine and summer temperatures. One
can only say that the experience has not been unpleasant for us. However, I do not envy
those young couples in apartments, wondering when the heck it will be over, with little or
big kids wanting no more homeschooling, but to just get back to their schools and friends.
They would do well to remember that tunnels do have twists and turns.
The only other time of crisis and fear I lived
through was during WWII when we lived on the
outskirts of London. Below skies punctuated daily
by planes with V-1 and V-2 rockets en route to destroy
the city of London, we were not locked down.
Life went on with school, though lessons were often
disrupted by sirens, meaning we would have to make
our way to the underground shelters in the playing
fields behind the school and wait for the “all clear.”
My father was away in the air force, which meant
that as the oldest, I had to help my mother more
than most kids.
Before school I would feed the chickens, who
supplemented our diets handsomely, and after school
I would be available to queue with the family’s ration
books at the local grocery for a small amount of
whatever happened to have been delivered. It could
be just a shipment of bananas or oranges or butter or egg-powder. Despite eating less meat,
butter, fruit, etc., and having no luxuries, we didn’t starve and were physically fit. I should add
that this was also undoubtedly thanks to the daily spoonful of cod liver oil unceremoniously
spooned into our compulsorily open mouths and followed by a small glass of concentrated
orange juice to make it more palatable.
Our nights were often interrupted by air raids, when we would grab our “siren suits” (cozy,
hooded jumpsuits that mother had made), into which we could be quickly zipped, before
hurrying to take shelter underground at the private school at the end of our street. We would
sit there on wooden benches until the all clear siren signaled the danger had passed and we
could return to our beds. Sometimes we would hear a distant explosion but sometimes the
explosions were nearby. Similarly at school, a few times a week classes would be interrupted
42 GOING DUTCH
by the same siren which meant we would proceed to
the oftentimes muddy, underground corridor-like shelter
in the playing fields behind the school and wait for
the all clear. It was when the cumbersome, heavy gas
masks were distributed that my parents decided that
our situation had become too dangerous and that I
should be evacuated to the west country, where I would
be safe. I was there for two years and was reasonably
happy, though I missed my family terribly, and letters
and calls became precious.
During those years, like now, people were wrapped
up in their own family’s safety and well-being,
though then many were missing their spouses and
sons. Perhaps life is less complicated now with the
coronavirus lockdown. One major advantage today
is that we are witnessing the great improvement in
the air quality due to there being so few cars on the
road and planes in the air.
Perhaps all these changes will make us more resourceful and contented with our lives,
however they turn out. There are so many lessons to be learned from this experience. When
time permits, let us hope our leaders, scientists and thinkers will be seriously busy with this
and making the world a better and more equal place for everyone.
Coping with the Coronavirus Crisis
by Melissa Rider
In comparison to the trials and tribulations that many people
around the world are suffering either as a direct or indirect
cause of COVID-19, I consider myself and my extended
family very lucky. Thankfully, the only hardship we have suffered
is the inconvenience of social distancing and isolation.
My adult children are gainfully employed and healthy, so not
missing out on any important childhood milestones like a college
graduation, high school prom, or just the interaction with
playmates in the classroom.
My husband’s employment in the Netherlands will not end
because of the coronavirus, so our expat life will continue uninterrupted.
My elderly parents currently remain healthy and
active. My greatest worry is the uncertainty of the future and
when I will be able to visit family in the US again. I cope with my anxiety with weekly
phone calls to family members and, of course, daily exercise. I keep my anxiousness over
these unsettled times at bay by walking my kooikerhondje, Nienke, every day in the morning
and afternoon around the neighborhood, and then alternating days between cycling along
the dune path paralleling the North Sea and jogging about the canal paths in Wassenaar.
Not being forcibly imposed to remain indoors has been my saving grace. I am grateful for
my current circumstances because as many others know firsthand, it could be much worse.
JUNE 2020 43
And COVID-19 Begins…Alone in
by Mary Adams
was delighted to hear that the FAWCO Interim Conference would take place in Luxembourg.
My partner Jerry and I decided that we would take a mini-break the week before the conference.
We decided not to book at the conference hotel, but rented an apartment instead
so we could take the cat, cook and relax. With news spreading about the coronavirus, I was
worried about the FAWCO event, but all indications were that it was a go. Then it wasn’t
a go, but we decided to go anyway. On Friday, March 13, we packed the car and headed
south. Should I have consulted the tarot for omens? Do I consider the number 13 unlucky?
The apartment was across the street from a private school and it was a beehive of activity
and sounds. Little did we realize that evening at the restaurant, it would be our last dining out
for a while. When the waiter appeared, he brought a small bottle of germ gel and carefully
placed it on the table. One could take that as foreshadowing. We simply raised a toast and
ordered. The waiter smiled and slipped the gel back into his apron.
The Japanese have a phrase called shinrin-yoku, which literally means “forest bathing.”
It is the act of reconnecting with nature. I had been waiting for weeks to walk in the woods.
We passed the Parc Hotel Alvisse, where the FAWCO meeting was NOT being held, on the
way to the Manternacher Fiels dream loop. Once on the hiking loop, walking in the deep
green woods surrounded by water and flowers, it was easy to forget the rest of the world.
Back at the apartment, we noticed that many of the cars were gone. We just shrugged and
enjoyed the quiet.
On Monday, we slept late because there was no sound from the street. No voices or noise
from the school. My phone beeped. The Portuguese restaurant had to cancel our dinner reservations.
Luxembourg City was officially in lockdown. Oh decisions, decisions! Stay or go?
Television was spewing bad news, including possible
border closings, deaths in Italy, and border shutdowns
in Germany. Hotel management called to advise us
to get to the grocery stores early in the morning. And
yet, my need to forest bathe was strong. We returned
to the only place that guaranteed no people―back
into the green woods. Again, we drove by the Parc
Hotel Alvisse. I had a strange desire to take a selfie.
“FAWCO! I am here! Where are you?” Corona is simply
the Latin name for “crown.” Birds sang glorious
songs, trees swayed, woodpeckers pecked in a cheerful
cadence as we walked through the forest.
Imagine the shock when we went to the grocery
store and found it devoid of people. Walking through
and looking at the empty shelves was strangely fascinating.
Besides stores being sold out of Cabbage Patch
Dolls back in the 1980s, I had never been faced with
empty food shelves. Shortage. In shortage, one makes
44 GOING DUTCH
do. Who needs flour and rice on vacation? Who needs
1,000 rolls of toilet paper? Reasonably well-stocked for
a day, we headed back to the apartment. But there was a
tickle at the back of my head. Were our days of wine and
song about to end?
The following day, we drove through the Kirschberg
Plateau. Modern architecture and contemporary art dominate
the landscape in towering wonders of glass and steel.
So futuristic. So cool. So sci-fi. So…. empty. No entry
to the IM Pei Contemporary Art Museum. Abandoned
beauty. No escaping. We were officially cast members in
a global disaster movie. It was time to go home. When we
reached our front door in the Netherlands would this all
go away? The answer came about three hours later. No.
The thorny corona crown was not a surrealistic dream. It
was here to stay.
There’s No Freedom of Movement
by Glenda Ohr
Although long into our retirement years with no work distractions or children still at
home, my Dutch husband and I have found we, too, have had to alter our lifestyles
in this coronavirus time. The feeling of an almost total loss of freedom—to go or
not go; making any short or long-term future plans; the constant corona-viewing for what’s
happening around the world; reminding ourselves to keep up with better health practices;
the new Dutch exercise of hamsteren to make sure there is plenty of toilet paper and to find
that very elusive bag of flour—this is what fills our days now!
Those days just run into each other and I continue to hope that the aging process is not
the culprit of our needing to use the kitchen calendar or my iPhone to find out what day of the
week it is. Our annual trip to Limburg to harvest fresh, white gold, the locally grown white
asparagus, and celebrate a special birthday, had to be cancelled. Spring for us is a special time
of year when we can come back and share our kilos of white gold with family and friends at
our dining table. Or even better, to be able to go out for a meal where someone else is doing
all the work and I can walk away like a princess. I have always enjoyed cooking, and still
enthusiastically watch cooking programs on TV or the Internet, but those nights out are high
on my list of missed experiences these days.
On the positive side of coronavirus time, I’ve had some lovely laughs and chat sessions
with friends via FaceTime and done some long overdue cleaning and organizing, which I
never fancy doing at any time. Thankfully, as of this writing, all extended family and friends
remain healthy. We empathize from afar with the stories of heartbreaking loss, sadness and
despair for the thousands of victims and their loved ones. We are beyond grateful for the joy
of living in a country that is well-organized and has taken this pandemic seriously. And a
big thank you to the weather gods for the many days of perfect sunshine we have had. Just
a reminder that with our usual rainy, springtime weather, it could always be worse.
JUNE 2020 45
The White House Commune
by Melissa White
After our daughter Veronica volunteered at a British communal living farm, where
occupants share responsibilities but don’t pool their finances, James and I discussed
how we could imagine her ending up living permanently in such a situation as she
loved helping with the animals, cooking huge meals and playing with the kids. Little did
we know that less than a year later, we’d be running our own communal living house in
Voorschoten during a pandemic.
Our story began when Veronica and her boyfriend Brett (her first American boyfriend)
met James and me for a long weekend in early March in Paris. That Monday, James flew
from Paris to the US, Veronica took the train back to England, Brett went to Bordeaux and
I returned to Holland. By Thursday, we knew that things had taken a turn for the worse and
James started scrambling to book an earlier flight back, managing to arrive at Schiphol on
Saturday, March 14, one day before closures of restaurants, museums, schools and theaters
in the Netherlands were enacted. After Veronica’s final two weeks of university classes were
cancelled, she hopped on a ferry home. Brett had considered heading back to England, but
we convinced him to come here instead of isolating in his student house. So, just one week
after bidding adieu in Paris, the four of us were reunited in the Netherlands for an unknown
amount of time.
Meanwhile, after living together for three months in paradise (literally, in paradise, while
working as bartenders at Fitzroy Resort on an island in the Great Barrier Reef) and travelling
together for two weeks in Australia and another two weeks in Vietnam, my daughter
Ashlynn and Bjarne (her first boyfriend!) said their fond farewells at a Vietnamese airport
on March 16. Little did they know that fate would intervene and just four days later they’d
be living together indefinitely in what we have dubbed as “The White House Commune.”
Fate has further intervened in ways that I’m grateful. This is the first time that both girls
have been home together since Christmas 2018. I am enjoying taking virtual exercise classes
with them. While James and I had planned on downsizing after Ashlynn graduated high
school, his bumpy road to a steady income as a consultant has kept us in our family house
which allows three couples to live together under one roof without constantly bumping into
each other. Since James already frequently worked from home, that hasn’t been a huge adjustment
for either of us. We’re fortunate to have enough space to allow Veronica to continue
working on coursework for her Master’s degree, while Brett works on his PhD, and Ashlynn
and Bjarne play mass quantities of Rummikub. We take turns grocery shopping, cooking and
doing the dishes, and all look forward to our lively conversations over home-cooked meals.
Frankly, when I was pregnant, I was terrified of the idea of having boys. I surely never
expected to become the surrogate mother of two young men, who at 6’4” make James look
short. Luckily they’re both great guys who treat our girls well. I think the hardest adjustment
has been trying to get a handle on having two ”remorseless eating machines” in our midst.
If I’d only known, we would have considered buying stock in Quaker Oats as we’re going
through an insane amount of Cruesli cereal, which serves as breakfast, snacks and dessert.
We’ve now hit the eight-week anniversary of The White House Commune and I’m happy
to report that we’re still healthy and laughing.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
by Melissa White
If you’ve met me, you probably already know that I’m a bit of a goofball who rarely misses
an opportunity to try to inject some humor into just about every situation. Some of you
might remember that I even started the Club’s financial review at the April 2017 General
Meeting by trying to get a laugh. Honestly, I can’t remember if it worked, but my efforts
were rewarded by putting me in the right state of mind to be able to deliver my PowerPoint
presentation without freaking out. I appreciate that there’s a pretty good chance that the only
person that actually thinks I’m funny is me. Regardless, that doesn’t stop me from continuing
to try to get a chuckle out of most anyone I encounter as it doesn’t matter if people are
laughing at me or with me.
When I found out that Mark, a close friend’s son, was diagnosed with cancer, I reached
out to him to with the usual, “I’m at a loss for words” and “Stay strong.” And while I honestly
didn’t know what to say to this sweet 28-year-old facing such a scary prospect, out of the
blue, I came up with an idea: I asked him if he minded if I sent him a daily humorous cartoon
or meme to help remind him that laughter is indeed the best medicine. Then I set a calendar
reminder so I wouldn’t forget about my commitment to keep him laughing until his chemo
is done. Not only did I hope that this would keep me in touch with him, but it would help
to keep me laughing as well. I started searching for a variety of ways to make him laugh. >> 48
46 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 47
Continued from page 47
Frankly, quite a few of the cartoons contain potty humor—
as in they are directly related to the toilet itself, such as a t-rex
stuck because his short arms can’t reach the toilet paper, or Santa
mistaking an outhouse for a chimney. I know that Mark enjoys
ballroom dancing, so I’ve found some dancing-related cartoons—
such as a ballerina giving quite a show after forgetting she wasn’t
wearing anything under her tutu. And a few will touch closer
to home—such as the patient in a hospital gown being thrilled
to cut out the back of his doctor’s clothes, and a discussion of
man buns, which is a hairstyle his little brother had sported but
clearly he won’t be able to grow himself anytime soon.
Ironically, when I started working on this article in early
March, the world was a very different place. Of course, the
variety of toilet paper cartoons exploded exponentially along
with the coronavirus. On March 25, Mark was diagnosed with
COVID-19. His second round of chemo was postponed, while he recovered at home after a
procedure to remove nearly a liter of liquid from his lungs. After having recuperated from
COVID-19 and testing negative on April 6, he was able to start his five-day in-patient round
of chemo, but had to be fully isolated which made the process that much harder to cope
with. During this craziness, I continued to search for ways to make him laugh including
coronavirus-related memes, which helped me to see the funny side of this mess as well. As
I’m finalizing this article, he is getting stronger by the day while at home for two weeks and
occasionally sends me a funny meme.
My efforts to find the author of the quote “Laughter is the best medicine,” were fruitless.
One suggestion is that the phrase derives from the book of Proverbs, Chapter 17, verse 22
in the Old Testament: A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. Laughter has been shown
to lead to reductions in stress hormones and enhances the effectiveness of t-cells, leading
to a stronger immune system. Thus, even laughing at tasteless jokes during a pandemic can
actually be beneficial.
48 GOING DUTCH
In another attempt to laugh, I enjoyed taking a
Virtual Laugh Wellness Workshop taught by AWC
Member Celeste Brown. Celeste first discovered
Laughter Yoga during a low point in her healing
process from breast cancer. The classes taught
her to laugh for the sake of laughter rather than
to a stimulus, enabling her to get the physical
benefits of laughter by reducing stress hormones.
She eventually became a certified Laughter Yoga
Trainer and has enjoyed helping the AWC and
FAWCO to laugh.
Luckily laughter is contagious even during
a pandemic. Stay safe! Remember to wash your
hands and remember to laugh.
Late in April 2020
by Roberta Enschede
My granddaughter’s 18th birthday was March 16. She didn’t have a birthday party
and won’t have a graduation or get to go to prom. Just like kids everywhere, the
excitement and memories of those youthful days will not be hers. My grandson is
an aerospace student at Delft University, one of the Dreamteam working on Stratos IV, a
rocket scheduled to launch in August. That dream is on hold!
My husband has talked more about the war these days. All the restrictions bring back
childhood memories of a time he was not free. My sister in Chicago hasn’t dared to go out
because of pre-existing conditions that make her vulnerable. I FaceTime with her twice a day.
My son, his partner and our winsome five-year-old granddaughter are in Maryland. The
rest of my family is in Chicago. I’m here! I can’t get on a plane and be with them. The other
day my son blurted out, “I can’t wait to be with you guys.” When I say that, he usually laughs,
“Oh, c’mon Mommy, it hasn’t been so long.” This time, neither of us laughed. I guess we
were thinking about how fragile life is.
In every bad situation, we see courage and decency
and the best there is in people. Thankfully, if we’re lucky
we find something in ourselves that perhaps we didn’t
know was there or that had stayed latent until necessity
woke it up, until the need to find meaning woke it up!
For many years, I thought I didn’t have the time to
walk in the woods or on the beach each day. Guess what?
I have time! I found out that I can do everything I must do
and still say, “I’m stopping. I’m going out for a walk in the
warm sunshine or in a chilly wind off the North Sea. I’m
going out to walk in the woods and kick around twigs of
the old pine trees or pick one up and count the cones on
a miraculous branch. I’m going to watch the sunset on a
new little tree―its green leaves shining golden green. I’m
going to walk along the beach when the tide is moving
out and for the first time in my life see little domes like
igloos of sand and foam the sea has left on the shore. I’m
going to look at the intricate patterns the sea creates as it endlessly ebbs and flows.” I never
took a lot of time to see the wonders so close to me. I was too busy going―somewhere!
If this pandemic has taught me anything, it is to never, ever assume anything! I know
now, not just in my mind, but in my very being, that thousands and thousands of lives can
be taken in a week, in a month. I know now what a blessing it is to be able to go and see the
people I love when I feel I have to see them and touch them. I know now that I don’t have
to go very far to see the wonders of this world we are blessed to live in. I know now that I
just have to walk into the woods or on the beach with the North Sea pulling and foaming and
telling me how small we are in this place on Earth, how ephemeral and yet how big because
we are one with everything and everyone around us.
I am truly sorry it has taken a pandemic to teach me what I should have always known.
JUNE 2020 49
Coronavirus and the Environment
by Anne van Oorschot
Who could have imagined six months
ago that more than 150 other
FAWCO members would NOT be
in Luxembourg from March 20 – 22? Certainly
not me! It is ironic that just as Health has become
FAWCO’s Target issue, the entire world
is being shown just how drastically health
problems can affect lives. Things that seemed
unchangeable in many parts of the world are
changing due to a virus: people are working
from home, eating at home rather than going
out to restaurants and bars, traveling less, and
going into nature for recreation since most
other options are closed. The economies of
many countries will be negatively impacted due
to making the changes deemed necessary to address
this health crisis. It is a sobering thought
that not all of us will survive this pandemic,
but the majority of us will and things will settle
into a “new normal” in the aftermath of this
period. I can’t help but think that we need a
“coronavirus” for the environment.
A Coronavirus for the
Climate change is causing problems for our
planet that are every bit as serious as the effects
of the coronavirus: sea levels are rising
to threaten the existence of some island nations
and coastal countries; increased air pollution
causes an increase in respiratory infections;
the warmer and increasingly volatile
weather has caused a rise in the severity and
frequency of wildfires, hurricanes and flooding.
Of the United Nations 17 Sustainable
Development Goals – or SDGs – 6 of them,
one-third, tie-in directly to the environment.
The list of environmental problems is long –
and scary! – so why don’t we seem scared?
I have thought about this a lot. Why are the
changes that are so desperately needed to
curb the effects of climate change not being
made? I think the reason lies in two factors: 1)
the link between climate change and negative
effects on our lives seems vague and far-away
to many people, and 2) the problems seem too
big and overwhelming. It’s just easier not to
think about it. This is not the answer that is
50 GOING DUTCH
needed and FAWCO’s Environment Team
would like to help change that! We have four
specific ideas to help you become a better
environmental steward without feeling overwhelmed.
1) I am One
Since environmental problems permeate every
country, community and household, how
does one keep from becoming overwhelmed?
Let me start with a quote I find helpful: “I am
only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything,
but I can do something. And because
I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to
do the something that I can do.” ~ Edward
Everett Hale (American Author)
2) FAWCO’s Environment Team
Our second suggestion is the Environment
Team: a group of 18 dedicated and knowledgeable
women from different clubs and regions
with a range of ages and varying degrees
of specific environmental education. What we
all have in common is a passion to take better
care of the planet on which we live. Our
goal is to increase YOUR awareness of environmental
issues and offer suggestions for
positive action. We do these things primarily
by publishing monthly articles (www.fawco.
that are posted on the FAWCO website.
Links to these articles are also combined
with articles from the other Global Issue
Teams and sent out in the monthly Global
Issues Digest to subscribers. If you are not
subscribed to this great resource, we urge you
to do so! Please note that all AWC Members
are automatically members of FAWCO.
We also encourage you to help spread the
word to further increase awareness. Links to
articles can be forwarded to others. For example,
I have an Environment News group of
31 family and friends to whom I forward our
monthly articles. While I’m sure not everyone
reads it every month, everyone reads at
least some of the articles and I do get positive
3) Green Group AWC The Hague
Our third anti-overwhelming idea is to start
an Environment Team at AWC The Hague.
More and more people recognize the importance
of taking action on climate change, and
by forming a Green Group in the AWC, you
can help and support each other, identify local
action goals and plan Club events. (While
I’d be happy to help in the organization of a
Green Group, I live too far away from the
Clubhouse to be a driving force in participation.)
There are Environment Teams at two
other FAWCO clubs: American Women’s
Group of Languedoc-Roussillon and AWC
Hamburg. I will get in touch if you would
like to hear about their ideas.
4) FAWCO Grove at Trees for Life
The final idea is the re-introduction of the
concept of compensating for your travel by
planting trees. In cooperation with Trees for
Life, a FAWCO Grove has been created in
Scotland where we hope Members will buy
trees to compensate for all of their travel.
While eliminating air travel is a great environmental
goal, it simply isn’t practical
for expats living far away from their home
countries. We need to be critical about the
flights we take and reduce their number, as
well as compensate for those we do make.
If we all compensate by planting trees in
the FAWCO Grove, not only will we be doing
something positive to combat climate
change, but it will make what we do as an
organization very visible!
So, how to compensate:
Go to https://co2.myclimate.org/en/flight_
calculators/new to calculate the amount of
CO² produced by your flight. There will be
an amount given (in tons) and a monetary
amount to donate to compensate.
For the FAWCO Grove with Trees for Life,
The cost to plant 1 tree is £6 / €6.80 / $7.50.
You can just donate the amount suggested on
the myclimate site (or round it up to a whole
number of trees) and your compensation is
complete. (If you don’t want to compensate
with tree planting in the FAWCO Grove,
there are a number of projects suggested on
the myclimate site that are also good compensation
With the effects of climate change becoming
ever more apparent in the world, it’s easy
to be overwhelmed. Hopefully FAWCO’s
Environment Team can help you learn the
facts so you can make informed choices for
positive changes. Never doubt that the personal
choices each of us make can have a
big combined impact! When facing daunting
global problems, women often lead the way
toward solutions, and AWC women seem
to do it with a torch in their hands to better
guide the way for others.
JUNE 2020 51
Index of Advertisers
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52 GOING DUTCH
JUNE 2020 53
What I Have Learned!
by Georgia Regnault
Let’s see – six weeks now in lockdown
Hard to realize without a grumpy frown
But still too early to change the scene
And move away from my computer screen.
But in this way, we have maintained a virtual Club
And at the same time can drink and eat some grub.
From meetings, book clubs and Thirsty Thursday
All keep me in the house and not wandering astray.
Now to tell you what new skills I’ve learned
While about COVID-19 remained concerned.
I’ve edited a book of letters called Write Soon
All the time hoping that from the virus I am immune.
I’ve Googled, I’ve Zoomed and walked all alone
Often stopping on the way for an ice cream cone.
I signed up to play regularly on the app StepBridge
At least that keeps me away from the fridge.
I did have to ask my vacuum, “How do you operate?”
While racing through the house to also fumigate.
What a new life with all the regulations
At the end of this we should all get citations.
Wishing all AWCers the very, very best
While life and politics are putting us to the test.
Stay safe! Stay healthy!
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JUNE 2020 55