AWC Going Dutch June 2020

The monthly magazine of the American Women's Club of The Hague

The monthly magazine of the American Women's Club of The Hague


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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

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Going Dutch

June 2020

Anne is Knighted!


Special Pandemic Section

Pandemic: Homeschooling



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 Membership

12 Slate of Officers

13 Clubhouse Corner

14 Ongoing Activities

20 Home Away From Home

23 FAWCO Corner

24 Dutch Daily

26 Margraten

27 Voting

28 Calendar

30 Anne is Knighted!


31 Letter from the (Pandemic) Editor

32 Homeschooling

33 Pregnant During the Pandemic

33 Random Thoughts

34 Repatriating

35 Baking, Grocery Shopping, and


36 Family Medical Emergency and

FAWCO Meeting

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 Classifieds

52 Advertising Rates

53 Index of Advertisers

54 COVID-19 Poem

JUNE 2020 3


Alex Moore

2020-2021 AWC Officers

Committee Chairs

AWC Clubhouse

Johan van Oldenbarneveltlaan 43

2582 NJ Den Haag

Tel: 070 350 6007



Going Dutch Magazine


Clubhouse Hours

Tuesday and Thursday

10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday Closed

Dues (Effective 2020-2021)

€ 110 per year (€ 66 after January 1)

€ 90 business, professional

€ 55 valid US military ID

€ 35 student

€ 35 Outside the Netherlands (Going

Dutch magazine not included)

Add € 15 new member registration fee

Guest Editor

Suzanne MacNeil

Design and Layout

Teresa Mahoney


Bird Nesting Area at Krimpenerwaard by Emily

van Eerten


Mary Adams, Celeste Brown, Mo Canellas,

Greetje Engelsman, Roberta Enschede, Mark

Gatewood, Sheila Gazaleh, Suzanne MacNeil,

Alex Moore, Lara Regnault, Melissa Rider,

Emily van Eerten, Melissa White


Celeste Brown, Audrey Goodman, Jane Gulde,

Diane Schaap, Debbie van Hees, Melissa White

Advertising Manager & Invoicing



Mary Adams, Erin Baker, Barbara Brookman,

Celeste Brown, Mary Ellen Brennan, Jane Choy,

Suzanne Dundas, Greetje Engelsman, Roberta

Enschede, Jan Essad, Amber Gatewood, Sheila

Gazaleh, Dena Haggerty, Eileen Harloff, Ginny

Mees, Sunita Menon, Julie Mowat, Glenda

Ohr,Georgia Regnault, Lara Regnault, Melissa

Rider, Jo van Kalveen, Anne van Oorshot, Emily

van Eerten, Michelle Voorn, Melissa White



AWC Bank Account Number

IBAN: NL42ABNA0431421757

KvK Den Haag

40409274 BTW or VAT: 007408705B01

Honorary President Diane Hoekstra

President Barbara Brookman


Vice President Melissa Rider


Treasurer Sarah Dunn


Secretary Mary Ellen Brennan


Club and Community Development


Carin Elam


Clubhouse Administration Officer



Communications Michelle Voorn



Sunita Menon

Front Office

Liduine Bekman, Siska Datema-Kool,

Jan Essad, Deana Kreitler, Hannah Gray,

Georgia Regnault, Jessie Rodell, Lindsey


Activities: Open

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:

Michelle Voorn

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.


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

TLC Dinner


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

have technology

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


>> 19

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

online, reaching

out and supporting

each other, making

face masks

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

>> 19

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

by acclamation.

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

Foundation Grant.

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

Via Zoom

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

anything will.



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!

Molly Jones

Berengaria Winkler

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

without you.

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

unwavering support.

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!


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

workout ideas.

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!



Ongoing Virtual Activities

Book Clubs

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

at bookclubevening@awcthehague.org.

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

award-winning biographer,

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

10 a.m.

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

10 a.m.

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

10 a.m.

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.”

Highly recommended.

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

with appropriate

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

7:30 p.m.

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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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 chatcraftcake@awcthehague.org

for more information

Every Tuesday

10 a.m. – Noon

Correction to April issue,

Mayflower 400 article: page 46,

2nd sentence:

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.

Several Thursdays

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

at membership@awcthehague.org.

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

good hands.


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.



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,


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.


FAWCO Corner

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

Moving On

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.

Moving Up

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

has been

named the Best

Care Innovation

of 2020 for

South Holland

in the preliminary


for the Dutch

National Health

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.

Miniature Dinosaurs

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.

Travel4U@americantravelcenter.net/www.americantravelcenter.nl/tel. +3261234901

“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


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

very hungry.

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


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:

1) Register

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 robertaenschede@yahoo.com

JUNE 2020 27

June 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

1 2

3 4 5 6

Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

7 8 9





Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

Virtual June General

Meeting 10 a.m.

Buddy Check 12

Virtual Evening Book Club

7:30 p.m.

14 15 16

Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

17 18

19 20

Virtual BYOB Thirsty

Thursday 6 p.m.

21 22 23

24 25



Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

Virtual Daytime Book Club

10 a.m.

Virtual Women in Business

10 a.m.

Father's Day

28 29 30

Virtual Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.


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.


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

children’s future.

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.


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

international move.

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!


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.


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

>> 38

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

members, online.

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.


JUNE 2020 39

Melissa W

Greetje E

View from My Window

Michelle V

Georgia R

Heather D

Julie M

Mimi S

Suzanne M

Cathleen O

Lana H

Amanda Z

Jo vK

Sheila G

Melissa R

Debbie C

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


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?

Apparently not.

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


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


JUNE 2020 47

Laughter (cont.)

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.


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


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

comments back.

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,

go: www.treesforlife.org.uk/groves/160148/.

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


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Aveda Lifestyle


Inside Cover

Happy Critters

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WIJK brilmode

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page 51

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Airport Service

Inside Back Cover

Petros Eyewear

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page 15

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JUNE 2020 53

COVID-19 Poem…or…

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!


JUNE 2020 55

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