AWC Going Dutch March April 2021

goingdutch

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


Going Dutch

March/April 2021

15, 22

The AWC reflects on the loss of two long

time Honorary Members

24

Learn more about the movie made about

the group sponsored by the FAWCO

Target Project

30 - 51

Our Members reflect on living in the

Netherlands

The Magazine of the

American Women’s Club

of The Hague

Table of Contents

5 Officers and Chairwomen

6 Sip, Swap and Shop

8 Message from the President

10 March General Meeting

10 April General Meeting

11 Dutch-American Friendship

Day

12 Ramblings from the Editor

14 Ongoing Activities

15 In Jessie’s Honor

16 Volunteering During a

Pandemic

18 Book Lovers

20 AWC and the Arts

21 Women’s History Month

22 Memories of Lucille Heineken

24 FAWCO Corner

28 Calendar

SPECIAL DUTCH MEMORIES SECTION

30 Mary Adams

32 Jo van Kalveen

35 Alex Moore

36 Anne van Oorschot

39 Melissa White

40 Eileen Harloff

42 Roberta Enschede

44 Melissa Rider

46 Georgia Regnault

48 Becky Failor

50 Anne van Oorschot

52 Classifieds

53 Advertising Rates

53 Index of Advertisers

54 Poet Laureate

MARCH/APRIL 2021 3



Editor

Melissa White

2020-2021 AWC Officers

Committee Chairs

AWC Clubhouse

Johan van Oldenbarneveltlaan 43

2582 NJ Den Haag

Tel: 070 350 6007

info@awcthehague.org

www.awcthehague.org

Going Dutch Magazine

goingdutchmag@awcthehague.org

Clubhouse Hours

By Appointment Only

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

Deadlines: Submissions are due no later than the last Monday of the month preceding the publication month.

For example, for the May/June issue, submissions are due before Monday, March 22.

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:

goingdutchmag@awcthehague.org

Legal Notice: Articles in Going Dutch express the views and opinions of their authors alone, and not necessarily

those of the AWC of The Hague, its Members or this publication.

4 GOING DUTCH

Design and Layout

Teresa Mahoney

Cover

Stevenhofjes Windmill in September 2020

Photography

Greetje Engelsman, Melissa White

Proofreaders

Celeste Brown, Jane Gulde, Diane Schaap,

Debbie van Hees

Advertising Manager & Invoicing

Open

Contributors

Mary Adams, Molly Boed, Barbara

Brookman, Jane Choy, Suzanne Dundas,

Greetje Engelsman, Roberta Enschede,

Becky Failor, Eileen Harloff, Alex Moore,

Georgia Regnault, Melissa Rider, Asmi Sen,

Jo van Kalveen, Anne van Oorschot

Printer

www.dwcprint.nl

AWC Bank Account Number

IBAN: NL42ABNA0431421757

KvK Den Haag

40409274 BTW or VAT: 007408705B01

President Barbara Brookman

president@awcthehague.org

Vice President Melissa Rider

vicepresident@awcthehague.org

Treasurer Anne van Oorschot

treasurer@awcthehague.org

Secretary Mary Ellen Brennan

secretary@awcthehague.org

Club and Community Development

Officer

Carin Elam

community@awcthehague.org

Clubhouse Administration Officer

Open

clubadministrator@awcthehague.org

Communications Michelle Voorn

communications@awcthehague.org

Front Office

Liduine Bekman, Siska Datema-Kool,

Jan Essad, Deana Kreitler, Hannah Gray,

Georgia Regnault

Activities: Sarah Partridge

Arts: Jane Choy

Assistant Treasurer: Teresa Insalaco

Book Club Daytime: Teresa Mahoney

Book Club Evening: Dena Haggerty

Bookkeeper: Lori Schnebelie

Caring Committee: Naomi Keip

Chat, Craft & Cake: Suzanne Dundas

eNews: Melissa Rider

FAWCO: Molly Boed

Front Office Coordinator: Hannah Gray

General Meetings Programs: Open

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: Melissa Rider

Movie Network: Tina Andrews

Newcomers: Jo van Kalveen, Hilde Volle

Parliamentarian: Georgia Regnault

Philanthropy: Open

Pickleball: Barbara Brookman

Social Media Facebook and Instagram:

Michelle Voorn

Social Media LinkedIn: Julie Otten

Tennis: Molly Boed

Thirsty Thursday: Open

Tours: Liduine Bekman

Volunteer Coordinator: Laurie Martecchini

Walkie Talkies: Emily van Eerten

Webmaster: Julie Otten

Women with Dutch Partners: Michelle

Voorn

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.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 5



Sip,

Swap &

Shop

6 GOING DUTCH

MARCH/APRIL 2021 7



Message from the President

by Barbara Brookman

We Have to Do What’s Best

Watching the Australian Open, the first

Grand Slam tennis tournament in a year to

allow spectators, I was thinking about what

is lost when we don’t have an audience. I

could hear it in the speaker’s voice at our

General Meeting and I notice it in myself

and others when we have online meetings.

It’s hard to know if we truly connect when

we look at our screens.

Seeing a sporting event with thousands of

spectators is exhilarating. The strength and

encouragement that the players draw from

the audience helps them perform better,

and the fun and comfort of a shared experience

sustains everyone. Just like we are

sustained by participating in AWC events

and from interacting with each other. But

here is this event on the other side of

the world, where it’s summer and where

they’ve contained the virus. And just as it

seemed like a preview of life to come, the

Australian state of Victoria went back into

lockdown for five days forcing the tournament

to change course and continue without

fans.

As a Club, we have been in that position so

many times this year. We lay out a plan and

we change it; we zig and we zag to make

things work given the restrictions we have.

When asked about adjusting to this change,

Serena Williams said, “So … five days? I

have to stick around. We have to do what’s

best.” Like a true champion, she not only

showed flexibility, but also

grit and determination

to win her next

matches so she will

still be in the tournament

when the

fans return.

to 100 years, we

have patience,

strength and flexibility

to stick

around. It may

not be five days,

but I hope that

in five months

we can welcome

everyone back

in person. To be

ready for that,

we’re focused on

the work at hand.

The Investment Committee is evaluating

the management and performance of our investment

portfolio, the Finance Committee

has started drafting a budget for the next

Club year and the Lease Committee is getting

ready to negotiate the Clubhouse lease

and improvements. Finally, the Nominating

Committee is hard at work to identify and

interview potential Board Members for

next year. I hope you will consider becoming

part of this team. Please reach out to

Celeste Brown if you’re interested.

Departures

I would like to thank Honorary President

Diane Hoekstra and former Board

Secretary Heather DeWitt for their service

to the Club. Best wishes for the next

chapter on your journeys. Diane returned

to Holland, Michigan, early this year. I

would like to thank her for welcoming the

AWC into her home on several occasions.

Heather returned to Houston in February.

She had only just arrived at the Club when

she was drafted to serve on the Board,

which she did for two years (2018-2019

and 2019-2020). Most recently, Heather

served as our Membership Chair.

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I feel that’s exactly

where we are as

a Club. On our way

Barbara

MARCH/APRIL 2021 9



Virtual General Meetings

by Melissa Rider

March General Meeting

It’s time for potty

talk! Most of us

do not give much

thought to the centerpiece

of our bathrooms,

but the toilet

is an unexpected

paradox. On the one

hand, it is a modern

miracle: a ubiquitous

fixture in a vast sanitation

system that has

helped add decades

to human lifespan by reducing disease. On

the other hand, the toilet is also a tragic

failure: less than half of the world’s population

can access a toilet that safely manages

body waste, including many in the US. And

it is inefficient, squandering clean water as

well as the nutrients, energy, and information

contained in the waste we flush away.

While we see radical technological change

in almost every other aspect of our lives, we

remain stuck in a sanitation status quo—in

part because the topic of toilets is taboo.

Fortunately, there’s hope—from a growing

army of scientists, engineers, philanthropists,

entrepreneurs, and activists who are overcoming

their aversions and focusing their

formidable skills on making toilets accessible

and healthier for all. Science journalist

Chelsea Wald, a Club Member since 2016,

has spent years plunging into the topic of

the toilet for her book,

PIPE DREAMS: The

Urgent Global Quest

to Transform the

Toilet, forthcoming

on April 6 from Avid

Reader Press/Simon

and Schuster (available

for preorder from

your favorite bookseller).

Chelsea will

talk about the process

of research and

10 GOING DUTCH

Welcome New Members!

Diane Dream

Arlene Houk

writing her book, as well as what she has

learned. This will be followed by a lively

discussion, to which you are invited to bring

your own toilet stories and most pressing

questions about this most necessary infrastructure.

Thursday, March 11

Via Google Meet

10 a.m. Social Time

10:15 a.m. Club Business

10:30 a.m. Guest Speaker

April General Meeting: VOTE!

This marks the anniversary of our first ever

AWC Virtual General Meeting. It’s unfortunate

that we still must meet virtually, but

the Board is thankful that the technology

of video conference calls to the layperson

has been able to keep our social and philanthropic

club active this past year during the

trials and tribulations of the various coronavirus

restrictions imposed throughout 2020

and now into 2021.

Voting for your Board is one of the key responsibilities

of being a Member of our

AWC. The Board oversees all aspects of

the Club with the help of committees and

volunteers. With guidance by the Chair,

Celeste Brown, the Nominating Committee

Members – Laurie Martecchini, Una

Mulvihill, Sarah Partridge, Minal Rajan,

Jo van Kalveen, and Peggy van Luyn –

have worked hard to put together a Slate of

Officers for the 2021-22 Club Year. A big

thank you goes out to all of them for their

time and commitment.

In addition to voting on the Slate of Officers,

there will be a vote on the modification

of the Membership Dues categories for

Students and Nonresident Affiliates. These

changes to the By-Laws under Article 1:

Membership, Section C: Dues are points #8

and #9. Student Memberships (#8) will now

have the added age qualification of being 25

years old or younger. The requirement to be

studying full-time in the Netherlands with

a valid ID remains the same. Nonresident

Affiliate Memberships (#9) will decrease in

cost to € 15.

Two hundred and thirty-nine years ago,

on April 19, 1782, the United Provinces

recognized the independence of the

United States of America. On October 8 of that

same year, the US and the United Provinces

signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce,

the longest standing treaty to which the US

is a party. The Dutch then loaned us money

to sustain the American Revolution.

Who we are and what we have become is

rooted in our Dutch heritage. John Adams, our

second President and first ambassador to the

Netherlands lived in The Hague. In fact, the

very first embassy building our country ever

owned was located at Fluwelen Burgwal 18 in

a house he purchased and said was “suitable

for a Hotel Des Etats-Unis”―an American

Embassy. Now it is the site of a city parking

garage!

Our sixth President, John Quincy Adams,

and his brother, Charles Francis, attended

Leiden University. Presidents Martin Van

Buren, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin

Delano Roosevelt directly trace their ancestry

to the Provinces of Gelderland and Zeeland.

Resolutions may only be adopted if a quorum

of at least 15% of the Membership is

present or validly represented at the meeting.

If you cannot join the meeting virtually,

then you can vote by email by contacting

our Parliamentarian, Georgia Regnault,

at parliamentarian@awcthehague.org before

the meeting.

After voting, there will be a FAWCO update

on their March Virtual General Meeting as

well as their 2020 – 2022 Target Project:

S.A.F.E. (Safe Alternatives to FGM

Elimination). A fun fundraising event for

the Target Project at this meeting is in the

planning stages as we go to print, so stay

tuned via Facebook and eNews for more

information. Please RSVP via our online

AWC Calendar or Wild Apricot App by

April 7.

Thursday, April 8

via Google Meet

10 a.m. Social Time

10:10 a.m. Voting

10:20 a.m. FAWCO Update

10:30 a.m. Fundraising Fun

Dutch-American Friendship Day

by Roberta Enschede

Other Americans who have shaped and

continue to shape our country also have roots

in this nation: Walt Whitman, poet; Herman

Melville, author; Thomas Alva Edison, inventor;

Humphrey Bogart, Henry, Jane and

Peter Fonda, actors; Bruce Springsteen,

singer and poet; Walter Cronkite, news commentator;

Eleanor Roosevelt, human rights

activist; and General (ret) David Petraeus,

to name a few.

To honor the contributions of the Dutch

nation, a resolution declaring April 19th

Dutch-American Friendship Day was passed

by the House and Senate on the occasion

of the Bicentennial of Dutch-American

Relations in 1982.

Each year, OAR ~ Overseas Americans

Remember commemorates Dutch-American

Friendship Day. If it is possible this April, it

will happen once more.

We encourage our fellow Americans to

reach out to your Dutch neighbors and friends

to create your very own Dutch-American

Friendship Day.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 11



Ramblings from the Editor

by Melissa White

While I have no memories of my

grandfather, there is one story that

my father told me about him that I

will never forget: how he had been stabbed

with a pitchfork while hiding under hay in

a wagon with his family while attempting

to escape from Russia before World War I.

Of course, he couldn’t scream out or they

would have all been discovered. How the

family went from that hay wagon to a ship

arriving at Ellis Island is all a mystery to me.

Frankly, whether he was indeed stabbed is

also a mystery as my father has admitted that

he doesn’t remember ever seeing the scars.

Nor does he know what his father’s real last

name would have been as it must have been

shortened to end up as Karp.

To be honest, growing up I never really gave

much thought about the fact that my grandfather

was an immigrant nor that my father

was a first-generation American. I was

teased once in high school, during the height

of the Cold War, when I confessed that my

grandfather was born in Russia, but quickly

convinced the other kids that I couldn’t be a

Russian spy since I couldn’t remember the

words to the Pledge of Allegiance, which

clearly any good spy would know. It also

never dawned on me that one day I would

become an immigrant myself.

When we moved to Holland as expats in

November 2005, we assumed we’d only be

here for three to six years due to the nature

of contracts awarded where my husband

was working. However, it didn’t take us

long to fall in love with the place and start

looking to secure additional contracts to extend

our stay. While he was under contract

for our first 11.5 years, we had semi-diplomatic

status that meant we lived outside the

local system regarding aspects of life such

as health insurance and taxes. After he was

laid off, we decided to stay, getting visas under

the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty

so he could try his hand at starting his own

software engineering consulting business,

thus becoming “local.” We are no longer expats,

but rather immigrants who, like many

AWC Members, need to pass a series of

inburgering (integration) exams in order to

qualify for permanent residency. As with so

many things in life, once something hits you

personally, it gives you a whole new sense

of empathy for others going through similar

challenges.

Life is either a great adventure or

nothing ~ Helen Keller

In this issue of Going Dutch, you’ll find a

wide range of articles as Members reflect

on their lives in the Netherlands, with a nice

mix of sentimentality and humor. You’ll

find a common theme in what inspired these

women to choose Holland as their adopted

country: falling in love with a Dutchman,

falling in love with the Dutch lifestyle, or

a combination of both. These authors range

from arriving in the Netherlands as far back

as 1957, long before affordable transcontinental

phone calls or flights, to one who arrived

as recently as 2018, in an age of smartphones,

video calls and discount airlines.

Regardless of when they arrived or how

long they will be remaining, they kissed

their families goodbye and started a new life

in a faraway place. Whether coming here as

an expat or an immigrant, it takes an adventurous

soul to take a leap of faith into such

a wild unknown. Reading through these articles,

you will see we have many Members

who haven’t regretted that decision at all. I

hope you feel the same and can reflect upon

your life in Holland fondly.

For our next issue, we will come full circle

for this club year as we revisit the pandemic:

Reflecting Once Again on the Pandemic (see

page 31 for details).

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12 GOING DUTCH

MARCH/APRIL 2021 13



Ongoing Activities

Virtual Activities

Due to unknown coronavirus guidelines,

please assume that the following activities

will be held virtually until the Clubhouse

can reopen. Look for updates in eNews.

Please contact Suzanne Dundas with questions.

Chat, Craft & Cake

Every Tuesday

10 a.m. – Noon

Wassenaar and Environs Coffee

1st Thursday of the Month

9:30 a.m.

Walkie Talkies

Whether you count your steps or just want to

take a socially distanced walk with friends,

the Monday morning Walkie Talkies is a

fun and healthy way to start the week. The

group meets in front of the Clubhouse before

heading out promptly to walk to various

destinations in the area, usually racking

up 10,000 steps along the way. No RSVP

is necessary. Contact Emily van Eerten at

walkietalkies@awcthehague.org to be added

to the WhatsApp group for last minute

updates and cancellations.

Mondays

9:30 a.m.

AWC Clubhouse

Free

14 GOING DUTCH

Virtual Women in Business

Are you a business owner? Are you thinking

about starting a business? Come to our

ongoing meetings for networking and discussion

among AWC Members about being

a business owner in the Netherlands. All are

welcome, no matter what amount of experience

you may have with owning a business.

Every meeting will include a topic

of interest and time for questions, discussion

and networking. Please watch eNews

for announcements of the monthly topics.

Feel free to email Mary Ellen Brennan

for more information or suggestions at

secretary@awcthehague.org.

Friday, March 26 + April 23

10 – 11 a.m.

Virtual Meeting

FREE

In Jessie’s Honor

by Georgia Regnault

With great sadness for all who knew

her, Jessie Rodell passed away on

January 18, 2021, after months,

if not years, of fighting cancer. As AWC

Members, we have wonderful memories of

Jessie’s active years at the AWC, as President

(1984 – 1985) and Board Advisor to many

AWC Presidents after she retired. Whenever a

group or committee needed volunteers, Jessie

was the first to sign up. And one of her specialties

was welcoming new Members and

making them feel “At Home in the AWC.”

It is hard to say farewell to a good friend of

more than 40 years.

Jessie’s daughter, Tiersa, expressed, “To all

the family and friends of Jessie, former colleagues,

and parents of the American School

of The Hague and the wider international

community of the Netherlands, whether

here or back at home: We are all happy that

Jessie lived to celebrate Quinn’s birthday in

November, her own in December as well as

her 56th wedding anniversary. She was more

vocal these past few weeks than in the past

few months, so we are very grateful for that.

When they said three to six months, she didn’t

listen, so we had a beautiful nine months to

enjoy as a family. I need to say thank you

for sharing your stories and pictures. It has

given me more of my mother than you can

imagine. Thank you does not begin to cover

our thanks, and hers, for everyone who has

brightened her life. Even in her most quiet

moments she was always aware of and grateful

for the friends of a lifetime.” Tiersa has

set up a website: www.jessierodell.com

Jessie Rodell Educational Award

Some months ago, the Rodell family asked

me to set up an Educational Award in Jessie’s

name. This international community-wide

award will help a person in the Netherlands

further their education and has been set up

with the help of The FAWCO Foundation.

We hope that many of you will support this.

There are several ways to send donations:

The FAWCO Foundation Website

Go to www.fawcofoundation.org and hover

over the tab Ways of Giving and then click

on How to Donate. Please note that all donations

through the website will be in US

dollars. Indicate “Jessie Rodell” in the notes;

if not possible, follow-up with an email to

treasurer@fawcofoundation.org.

EU Bank Transfer

Euro denominated donations can be transferred

directly to the AWC of The Hague,

IBAN NL42ABNA0431421757. Please include

your name as well as “Jessie Rodell” in

the comment. For any questions, please contact

me at parliamentarian@awcthehague.org.

Send US Checks

The FAWCO Foundation

c/o Kathy DeBest

1817 Prairie Dunes Ct. S

Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108

Zelle App

If your US bank uses this app, send

your donation via the email address

of the FAWCO Treasurer at

treasurer@fawcofoundation.org. Please indicate

“Jessie Rodell.”

Employees of American companies may be

eligible to get a company match from their

employer as The FAWCO Foundation is a

recognized 501(c)3 organization.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 15



Volunteering During a Pandemic

by Carin Elam

As the Club and Community

Development Committee reflect on

the pandemic, we considered how we

could leverage AWC traditions to continue

making a difference in the community. How

we could continue to be charitable despite

limited opportunities for in-person volunteering,

especially knowing that needs in the

community have increased.

Life’s persistent and most urgent

question is, “What are you doing for

others?” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King’s message seems very appropriate

at this moment in time, especially as we consider

our committee’s mission. What are we

doing for others?

Efforts in 2020

Last spring, not much. This committee felt

the full effects of the pandemic when it was

forced to cancel the 2020 Easter Basket

event. It was terribly sad for both AWC

Members and children in the shelters to miss

this treasured event. Unfortunately, so much

was unknown at the time and it seemed to be

the only option.

16 GOING DUTCH

Throughout the summer and early fall, the

committee patiently waited for workable

rules regarding social distancing and masking.

We were hoping to return to a “normal”

year of community outreach events. In late

fall, with a better understanding of what

was possible, the core committee, Molly

Boed and Minal Rajan, joined me to move

forward with planning the holiday Toy &

Toiletry Drive. Given government restrictions,

we had to modify the drive, making

it COVID-safe: offering multiple drop-off

locations in and around The Hague, thereby

reducing foot traffic in the Clubhouse; asking

Members to donate funds versus shopping

for gifts in the hopes that this would

minimize potential exposure for Members;

asking fewer volunteers to wrap gifts in the

Clubhouse; and shifting to an early delivery

schedule (mid-November) because one of

the organizations planned to close its operation

on December 1 (prior to the traditional

December 5 celebration).

With the quick work of the committee and

generous offers of time and approximately

€2,000 donated from our Members, we were

fortunate to organize a very successful Toy

Drive. Hopefully you saw the photos in the

previous issue of Going Dutch. We shopped,

wrapped, and delivered toys and care packages

to two organizations: Oasis Food Bank

in The Hague and Salvation Army Children’s

Home “Vliet en Burgh” in Voorburg.

Looking Ahead

In the course of delivering toys to the children,

the committee learned that the Oasis

Food Bank was closing. A post on the Oasis

website explained that “changes in the

neighborhood” prompted the organization’s

leadership to reallocate resources, and other

organizations would support the Spoorwijk

neighborhood. Given the closing of our

long-term partner, the AWC must find a new

partner for our charitable donations. That

search is underway, and an update will be

shared in the near future.

2021 Easter Baskets & Care

Packages

Although the Oasis is closing, Vliet en Burg

is open and still doing great work to support

children and teen moms. Children living in

the home are offered a safe place to live,

and the teen moms receive support while

they learn to care for their child and move

forward with school or work. Therefore, we

look forward to bringing some additional

joy by delivering Easter baskets and care

packages to these children and new moms.

Sign-up details for this volunteer opportunity

will be shared with AWC Members

in early March, with a planned delivery in

early April. While we had hoped to offer

more in-person volunteer opportunities, the

Dutch government announcements in late

January led us to believe that strict measures

will remain in place through late spring/early

summer. As we learn more, we will adjust

our planning accordingly.

Fundraising for the FAWCO

Target Project

In a “normal” year, Molly, our FAWCO Rep,

would be busy planning a Spring Handbag

Auction to raise funds for the FAWCO

Target Project S.A.F.E.* (Safe Alternatives

for Female Genital Mutilation Elimination).

However, since this still isn’t a “normal”

year, our committee has brainstormed to

come up with creative alternatives.

Hopefully you have heard about the February

fundraiser: Desserts for Donations. To raise

funds, some Members volunteered their

time baking or cooking items in return for

a donation to S.A.F.E. If this first February

event was successful, the committee will

organize monthly or bi-monthly Dinners for

Donations. Please check eNews or the AWC

Facebook Group for additional details.

The Board has made the difficult decision to

reschedule the in-person Handbag Auction

for Fall 2021. Since that is so far away, we

will host a virtual pub quiz in March with

the teams competing for some of the handbags

from the AWC collection. Committee

members have just started work on this

event and more details will follow in eNews

and the AWC Facebook Group. If this

first virtual event is a success, we will plan

other, similar events, such as bingo or another

pub night.

* S.A.F.E. (Safe Alternatives for Female

Genital Mutilation Elimination)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) still occurs

in virtually every country globally,

but we are focusing our efforts on helping

girls and women in Tanzania, a place

where FGM is still widespread. A courageous

Tanzanian woman, Rhobi Samwelly

(herself a victim of this barbaric procedure),

has opened a safehouse for women and girls

in Tanzania and she is using the power of

education to educate young boys and girls

about the evils of this tradition (with the

support of the Tanzanian Government) so

that this barbaric practice can end with this

generation. Read more about Rhobi’s efforts

on page 24.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 17



Book Lovers

Book Clubs

The AWC Book Clubs are FREE and open

to all readers. New Members are especially

welcome! There are no requirements that

you must attend every meeting or lead a discussion.

Snacks are provided by a different

Member each month. We have a daytime

and an evening group. Questions? Teresa

Mahoney organizes the daytime group:

bookclubday@awcthehague.org. Dena

Haggerty handles the evening meetings:

bookclubevening@awcthehague.org. Look

for messages in eNews about the possibility

of meeting at the Clubhouse or virtually.

Daytime Book Club

March Selection: An American Marriage

by Tayari Jones

The winner of the 2019

Women’s Prize for Fiction,

this novel gives an intimate

look into a contemporary

marriage that is ripped apart

by circumstances beyond

their control.

Thursday, March 25

10 a.m.

April Selection: The Midnight Library by

Matt Haig

Between life and death there

is a library with shelves that

go on forever. Every book

provides a chance to try another

life you could have

lived. To see how things

would be if you had made

other choices. Would you have done anything

different if you had the chance to undo

your regrets?

Thursday, April 22

10 a.m.

Daytime Book Club Reading List:

Thursday, May 27: Weapons of Math

Destruction by Cathy O'Neil

18 GOING DUTCH

Evening Book Club

March Selection: The Midnight Library by

Matt Haig

When Nora finds herself in

the Midnight Library, she

has a chance to make things

right. She can now undo every

one of her regrets as she

tries to work out her perfect

life. Before time runs out,

she must answer the ultimate

question: what is the best way to live?

Wednesday, March 10

7:30 p.m.

April Selection: The Body by Bill Bryson

Full of extraordinary facts

(your body made a million

red blood cells since you

started reading this) and irresistible

anecdotes, this book

will lead you to a deeper understanding

of the miracle

that is life. "We pass our existence

within this wobble

of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for

granted."

Wednesday, April 14

7:30 p.m.

Daytime Book Club Recaps

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Technically a sequel to Olive Kitteridge,

picking up one month later, this “novel in

stories” can be read as a standalone. At the

center is Olive Kitteridge, a woman from

the small town of Crosby, Maine, negotiating

her life two years after her husband has

died. She doesn’t have any real desire to

please; she can be rude, abrupt, unforgiving,

formidable, direct, insensitive, cantankerous

and funny. She can also be compassionate

Evening Book Club Reading List:

Wednesday, May 12: Before the Coffee

Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Wednesday, June 9: It's Not all Downhill

from Here by Terry McMillan

and show empathy and vulnerability especially

as she starts to become more aware

of her own mortality. She struggles against

loneliness, aging and the issues of whether

she has been a good mother and can embrace

life with a new man. The 13 stories are told

from a range of perspectives and explore the

themes of grief, loneliness, regrets and familial

torments. Nearly all of us enjoyed this

book, deeming it just as good, if not better

than the original. We felt Olive had softened

with age and was more aware of the impact

her actions and words had on those around

her. We liked how lots of the characters had

transformative moments. Whilst Olive isn’t

at the center of all the stories, she can light

up a story even when glimpsed from a distance.

It was interesting to note that many

of the characters spent more time looking

backwards in their lives than forward and

we wondered if this was true of most of us.

As Olive herself would say, whilst walking

away waving her hand over her head, “Read

this book, you can thank me later.”

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Kill or be killed? Lydia, a former American

judge, asks us, the readers of her diary, point

blank, “What would you do?” if given the

choice of being the shooter or the victim of

a firing squad. Having been tortured by the

male commanders of Gilead, the theocracy

that replaced the United States after an armed

attack on the US Capitol, Lydia chooses to

live, gunning down former colleagues who

chose differently. Having proven her loyalty

to Gilead, Lydia crafts a position of

great power within the Aunts, the branch of

government concerned with female affairs.

This novel gives us three firsthand stories of

a more mature Gilead than presented in its

prequel: The Handmaid’s Tale. The stories

unfold in the testaments of Aunt Lydia and

two young women: Gileadean Agnes and

Canadian Daisy, who take very different

routes to become freedom fighters. Atwood

is uncanny at what she calls “speculative

fiction,” weaving brilliant, terrifying,

but sometimes archly humorous, stories

that are on the cusp of being all too true.

Knowing the government of Gilead determines

a woman’s entire role in life by the

viability of her uterus feels ominous but also

familiar to us. The religious, environmental,

and social horrors of Gilead, always subtly

rendered, are also unsettlingly close to reality.

Atwood, 80, shared the Booker Prize

in 2019 with a younger, trendier author. We

agreed it should have gone to Atwood alone

as The Testaments is a masterpiece.

Evening Book Club Recaps

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by

Dominic Smith

To be honest, there was little that the six

members that participated in our discussion

could agree on except that everyone’s favorite

section of this book took place in the

Netherlands in the 17th century, focusing on

a fictional female artist who specialized in

landscape paintings. While some loved the

familiarity of the locations that switched

between the Netherlands, New York and

Sydney, others were frustrated with the

modern-day characters and details that they

found superfluous.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 19



AWC and the Arts

by Jane Choy-Thurlow, AWC Member and Mauritshuis Docent

Let’s Remember All the Women!

by Roberta Enschede

Despite the uncertainty of lockdown

restrictions, I have continued to

plan some Arts activities. Please see

eNews for updates on the details.

Walking Tour of Pilgrims’ Leiden

Four hundred years ago, the English

Separatists we call the Pilgrims set sail to

America from Delfshaven, near Rotterdam.

This is an occasion to be reminded of their

story and that of their contemporaries, and to

learn about the world they lived in. On this

tour you will discover the city of Leiden,

where the Pilgrims arrived as refugees in

1609, and its unique environment: home

of the country’s first university (1575), a

flourishing textile industry, printing houses

and many foreign immigrants looking for

religious freedom. In the 17th century,

Leiden was one of the largest cities of the

Low Countries. Much of the urban landscape

today reflects the cultural, academic and

scientific riches of the city as well as

daily life in the Golden Age. Wandering

around Leiden with Sarah Moine, curator

of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum

(www.leidenamericanpilgrimmuseum.

org), you will learn about the Pilgrims’

journey, monumental churches, old and

quaint houses, and secrets of the city. Due

to COVID-19 restrictions, it will not be

RSVP for all Arts Activities directly

on www.awcthehague.org

Direct any questions to

jechoy@me.com

possible to allow the entire group into the

museum. However, everyone is welcome

to book a visit online in advance at https://

pilgrim-museum.sollidd.com.

Smell the Art: Fleeting – Scents

in Color

Experience the newest exhibit at the

Mauritshuis, featuring scented flowers and

perfumes, foul-smelling canals and unpleasant

body odors, new aromas from far-away

lands (spices, tobacco, coffee and tea), the

disappearing smells of the bleaching fields,

old crafts and more. Can life in the 17th century

be captured in smell? How are smell

(and scent) portrayed? What significance

did people attach to smell? And what aromatic

connotations do artworks have? In the

vicinity of the artworks, various historic

scents will be prepared to bring the paintings

in the exhibition to life. Either we will join

Jane Choy for a tour in the Mauritshuis (in

which case

you will need

to pre-book a

ticket for the

museum) or

she will hold

a Zoom talk

about the

exhibit (and

you can visit

the museum

on your own

before the

exhibit is

scheduled to

close on June

6).

Women’s History Month was first commemorated

in March 1987. The recognition

of the rights, abilities and

contributions of women has been a long time

coming.

Back in 1851 at a Women’s Convention in

Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth, a former

slave, got up and said:

That little man in black there, he says women

can’t have as much rights as men, ‘cause

Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your

Christ come from? From God and a woman!

Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong

enough to turn the world upside down all

alone, these women together ought to be able

to turn it right side up again! And now they

is asking to do it. The men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old

Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

And even earlier, on March 31, 1776, when

the members of the Continental Congress

were drafting the founding documents of the

United States, Abigail Adams wrote her husband,

who was later to become the second

President:

Remember the ladies and be more generous

and favorable to them than your ancestors.

If particular care and attention is not paid to

the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion

and will not hold ourselves bound by

any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

It took 240 years for the US to finally nominate

a woman as a candidate for President.

Hillary Clinton did not win, but she made

history. No longer do we assume that only a

man can be President. Now and in the years

to come, a candidate can and will be woman:

a white woman, a brown woman, a Black

woman, an Asian woman. Little girls like

little boys will be able to say, “When I grow

up, I want to be President.” We’ve already

heard young Amanda Gorman say it in her

unforgettable interpretation of the Inaugural

poem she wrote (see page 54).

My mother would look at me and

she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the

first to do many things, but make

sure you are not the last.’

~ Kamala Harris

In 2020, we saw so many women running for

President. “The times, they are a-changin’.”

When Kamala Harris, the first woman Vice

President, put her hand on the bible of Justice

Thurgood Marshall, it said it all. A woman

of African American and Asian heritage

swore to uphold the Constitution on the bible

of the first African American Justice of the

Supreme Court.

So, this year in March, when we commemorate

Women’s History Month, we will know

that the second highest office in the US is

held by a woman. She stands on the shoulders

of Abigail and Sojourner and all the

women who spoke out even when they were

ridiculed and told “a woman’s place is in the

home.” Now we know it’s in the House, the

Senate, the Office of the Vice President and,

one day, the President.

Let’s take time this month to “Remember

the Ladies.” The rights and opportunities

we have today are ours because of the

women who stood up and refused to accept

second-class citizenship. Justice Ruth Bader

Ginsburg who fought for women’s rights

during her entire career once wrote, “Women

belong in all places where decisions are being

made. It shouldn’t be that women are the

exception.” And Hillary Clinton said, “Let it

be that human rights are women’s rights and

women’s rights are human rights once and

for all.”

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MARCH/APRIL 2021 21



Memories of Honorary

Member Lucille Heineken

by Georgia Regnault

Word reached the AWC in the last week of 2020 that

Lucille Heineken-Cummins, an AWC Honorary

Member and the wife of the late Alfred Heineken,

passed away at the age of 95 at her home in Noordwijk. She

is survived by her daughter, Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken,

son-in-law, and five grandchildren.

For me, this brought back many memories. During the

70s and 80s, my husband, Peter, worked at the Heineken corporate

offices in Amsterdam. For five years in the early 80s,

Peter was Secretary of the Board which meant he had quite

a bit of contact with Mr. Heineken. As a couple, we attended

many Heineken functions at which I met Mrs. Heineken and

got to know her a bit.

According to the AWC Membership records, she joined

the Club in 1975, and although she didn’t attend many functions,

she and the Heineken Company were extremely generous

to our Club and the American community as a whole.

When our Clubhouse on Nieuwe Duinweg was purchased, Photo taken in 1989 by ANP

it was Heineken that sent a crew to renovate the kitchen and provided a four-door under the

counter refrigerator free-of-charge. The only “catch” was that as far as drinks were concerned,

only Heineken or Vrumona (soft drinks and juices) products could be stocked in it. That was

not a problem! For many years, we called it the Heineken Café.

Mrs. Heineken gave very charitably to our Pink Galas as well as the FAWCO Interim

Conference, organized by the AWC at the Kurhaus in 2004. Most of the time, these substantial

monetary donations were given anonymously.

was spelled incorrectly. His comment, which typified his famous humor, “I thought my name

was well-known enough to be spelled correctly.”

Mrs. Heineken’s father was a bourbon producer in Kentucky, and she and Mr. Heineken

met there in 1947 when he was sent by his father to the US to be the Sales Manager for

Heineken, long before Heineken became a household name there. During that terrible period

in November 1983, when Heineken was kidnapped along with his chauffeur and held captive

for three weeks, all of Holland lived in much stress and fear that Heineken wouldn’t be

found alive. I can only imagine how terrible this time was for Mrs. Heineken, as she was

quite a private person, but was suddenly thrown into the spotlight.

When Heineken and his chauffeur were freed after three weeks of captivity in a Quonset

hut in the western part of Amsterdam, instead of our Club sending flowers―as would be

the Dutch custom―I asked a few AWC Members to bake lots of brownies and deliver them

to their home in Noordwijk. Brownies were what Peter always brought to the office for his

birthday and Heineken would always make the comment when they were passed around,

“Oh, it must be Regnault’s birthday today!”

According to the obituary in various newspapers, Mrs. Heineken was not only an avid

horseback rider, but had been a fashion model before she moved to the Netherlands after her

marriage. Maybe that was why, in May 1984, she did attend a General Meeting. It was my

last as President and we were holding a tremendous―and I mean tremendous―fashion show

at the Holiday Inn in Leiden. This opportunity had fallen into our hands via the American

government which had brought several American designers and their clothes for a travelling

fashion show in a couple of European capitals. We had to provide the models, location, and

audience. I think we invited the entire American female population of the Netherlands! There

were probably 350 – 400 women there, including Mrs. Heineken. Since this event was just

six months after her husband’s kidnapping, I remember her apologizing for all the security

she was forced to bring along with her. Looking back today on her attendance, I can’t help

but wonder if she had any (monetary) part in this travelling fashion show.

It was a privilege to have known both Mr. and Mrs. Heineken in some small way. Our

Club and the American community in general should be very grateful to the family.

Celeste Brown remembers two encounters with Mrs. Heineken. In Celeste’s enthusiasm

upon joining the AWC in 1998, she offered to be the neighborhood chairwoman for Leiden

and surrounding areas. At that time, she and Jaap were living in a “teensy tiny” apartment

in Katwijk. On her list was Mrs. Heineken, so she called and invited her for coffee, having

no idea that she was MRS. HEINEKEN of the Heineken beer family! Mrs. Heineken didn’t

attend the morning coffee, but Celeste has never forgotten her friendly conversation and

warm invitation to “drop by.”

When Celeste was President, Mrs. Heineken unexpectedly attended the 2004 Honorary

Members Tea with her personal assistant. Maybe it was shortly after that time that I saw

her for the last time. I was at the Clubhouse one afternoon and all was fairly quiet, except

coming down the staircase was Mrs. Heineken with her hands full of items from our Gift

Shop. She commented, “I always come here to buy things for my grandchildren in England.”

A small anecdote about Mr. Heineken (who passed away in 2002) was a letter we received

from him written on the back of the address label of the magazine, showing that Heineken

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MARCH/APRIL 2021 23



FAWCO Corner

by Molly Boed

Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas, a United Nations NGO with

consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council

www.fawco.org.

In the Name of Your Daughter

by Asmi Sen

The rustling of leaves, the roaring of the

engine, the sounds of children laughing,

crying, singing, and learning together, the

way women and girls hold their hands in

unison … all merge together beautifully to

paint a vivid picture. The unfiltered lens

through which the stories of at-risk girls

have been captured reveal the painful truth

that is female genital mutilation (FGM),

a form of gender-based violence (GBV).

FGM has continually affected girls under

18 in central and northern parts of rural

Tanzania, despite being outlawed by the

government in 1998. The documentary, In

the Name of Your Daughter, directed and

produced by Giselle Portenier, captures

what posters and websites cannot: the

voices of those directly affected by FGM.

24 GOING DUTCH

Portenier’s movie has been screened in

many different countries in order to raise

global awareness about FGM in Tanzania. It

is important to note that FGM isn’t unique to

Tanzania. In fact, this barbaric practice has

been uncovered in over 92 countries, including

in the Americas, Asia, Europe and many

other countries in Africa. The global prevalence

of this issue is, disturbingly, growing

increasingly evident. Rhobi Samwelly, who

is the protagonist of this documentary film,

is a force to be reckoned with in paving the

path towards ending FGM and promoting

women’s rights in Tanzania. Having nearly

died at her cutting ceremony when she was

12, Rhobi is determined to ensure that this

evil practice is eradicated from her society

once and for all. In order to change attitudes

towards FGM, Rhobi has spent years leading

a team of actors, singers, and dancers

in villages that promote FGM. She has also

changed attitudes of younger generations by

educating young boys and men about the

negative health consequences of FGM. This

film is a well-constructed amalgamation of

Rhobi’s efforts, the voices of the many girls

at risk of being cut, and the obstacles that

Rhobi and her team face along the road.

After the virtual movie screening in

November 2020, the audience had the honor

of interviewing Giselle. According to her,

while greater awareness has been raised

about FGM, what had been missing from

the picture were the actual voices of the girls

themselves. She said that the first step towards

raising awareness about and working

towards resolving FGM is to directly ask the

girls what they themselves want, as their human

rights are at stake. What distinguishes

this documentary from many others, is that

it allows those directly affected by FGM to

raise their voices about the issue. This theme

is prevalent throughout the film. Every time

a girl was rescued, she was asked if she was

at risk of undergoing FGM. It was each of

their responses that made the film so authentic.

The unfiltered recording of each of the

girls being introduced to the safehouse and

asked questions about their situation, laid

bare emotions of fear and uncertainty, while

also revealing the personalities of each girl.

Once rescued, some were more comfortable

staying in the safehouse than others. Flora

was older than most of the other girls. Her

feelings about the situation seemed to be

very conflicted, as she seemed observably

worried in the safehouse. Rhobi revealed

that Flora seemed the most unhappy as she

felt that she was betraying her family, her

tradition. Flora was put in a situation where

she had to choose between her family and

her basic human right of remaining uncut

and healthy.

From escaping to a safehouse to returning to

her parents’ home was a rocky journey for

Flora. The first time she returned to her parents,

her father had been convinced to sign a

binding contract with the police, promising

not to cut her without her consent. However,

Rhobi and her team later discovered that a

cutting ceremony was planned soon after, so

Flora was rescued back to the safehouse. It

was clear, though, that she was more conflicted

than relieved. Her facial expressions

indicated self-doubt, as though she regretted

every move that she made. Towards the end

of the movie, Flora finally found her way

back to her family, who once again promised

to never cut her without her consent.

However, according to Gisele, she eventually

agreed to be cut due to societal and familial

pressures, despite being educated about

the negative consequences of FGM on her

body and her human rights.

Flora’s journey revealed two significant

themes that have long been prevalent for

women’s rights. The first idea is that women

should put their community above themselves,

and the second is the patriarchal

ideal that women should serve as vessels

of pleasure for men. In the end, it boils

>> 26

MARCH/APRIL 2021 25



FAWCO (cont.)

Continued from page 25

down to a woman’s worth. According to

Rhobi, if a girl dies in Tanzania, she is not

buried but rather thrown away because she

is believed to be cursed. It is as though it

was her fault that she died. These themes

were highlighted further by the interviews

of men in areas where there are many instances

of FGM, also known as “high risk

areas.” Rhobi and the team talked to young

men to try and change their attitudes towards

FGM. There was a particular scene in

the documentary where Rhobi was hosting

a roadshow during which men in the area

were interviewed about cutting ceremonies

and why they are performed. These reactions

provide an insight to both men’s perception

of women in those regions, and the

patriarchal ideals from which this practice

is rooted. It is by changing the attitudes of

these men that significant progress can be

made towards eliminating FGM.

To achieve significant progress, there needs

to be a leader who prevents FGM. Due to

the patriarchal structure of these rural villages,

it is the men who need to put to a stop

to FGM. The education of boys is captured

in a scene where two now confident and reeducated

(formerly at-risk) girls from the

safehouse gave a presentation about FGM

and answered questions from the boys. The

boys watched a video of a young girl undergoing

FGM at her cutting ceremony, after

which the girls gave a speech raising awareness

of the negative consequences of FGM.

After watching the video and the presentation,

the boys appeared to have changed

attitudes about cutting. This heartwarming

scene indicates that educating children, especially

young boys, about the horrors of

FGM is critical for the eradication of this

abhorrent practice.

Postscript: While cutting season is typically

over the December holiday, cutting can take

place at any time. While over £500,000 has

been raised towards ending FGM, the training

of the rescued girls has yet to be fully

successful. Also, unfortunately, due to the

COVID-19 pandemic, the school education

of young boys and girls about FGM has been

reduced greatly. As a result, FGM will most

likely be occurring even more. UNICEF

has estimated an extra two to three million

girls have been cut worldwide due to the

pandemic. In fact, violence against women

globally has increased during the pandemic

as a result of the social isolation and economic

insecurities that follow. According to

the UN, “At least 200 million women and

girls, aged 15 – 49 years, have undergone

FGM in 31 countries where the practice is

concentrated. Half of these countries are in

West Africa. There are still countries where

FGM is almost universal, where at least 9

in 10 girls and women, aged 15 – 49 years,

have been cut.”

These global statistics cause us to infer that

conditions of FGM in Tanzania have most

likely worsened during the pandemic. While

the pandemic has most definitely presented

a setback, significant progress has nevertheless

been made through the brave work of

Rhobi and her team, who have changed attitudes

about FGM in Tanzania since 2014.

Through the unfiltered documentation of

at-risk girls and their journey towards freedom,

Portenier’s film In the Name of Your

Daughter serves to educate and enlighten us

about the detrimental effects of FGM in rural

Tanzania. This film is in the name of every

woman’s daughter, or every girl that doesn’t

want to be cut. When the cast watched the

film, they were overjoyed by the fact that

their voices had been heard. They even

laughed at the funny parts. There were also

village screenings of the documentary, after

which three girls came to the safehouse, and

one of them was brought in by her brother!

There were both men and women who

wanted to stop FGM. With more initiatives

towards re-educating people about the negative

consequences of FGM, we can achieve

significant progress towards minimizing

this barbaric practice.

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MARCH/APRIL 2021 27



March 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

1 2 3 4 5 6

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

Wassenaar Coffee and

Convo 9:30 a.m

7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

Virtual March General

Meeting 10 a.m.

Buddy Check 12

Evening Book Club

7:30 p.m.

14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

Daytime Book Club

10 a.m.

Virtual Meeting: Women

in Business 10 a.m.

Passover

28 29 30 31

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

April 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

1

Wassenaar Coffee and

Convo 9:30 a.m

2 3

4 5

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m.

6

Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m..

7 8

Virtual April General

Meeting 10 a.m.

9 10

Easter

11 12

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m.

Buddy Check 12

13

Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

14

Evening Book Club

7:30 p.m.

15 16 17

18 19

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m.

20

Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

21 22

Daytime Book Club

10 a.m.

23

Virtual Meeting: Women

in Business 10 a.m.

24

25 26

Dutch - American

Friendship Day

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m.

27

Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

Earth Day

28 29 30

King’s Day

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MARCH/APRIL 2021 29



Lange Tenen

by Mary Adams

When I was a child, I had a recurring dream: In it, I was a scullery maid. I would

stand in front of a kitchen sink and scrub copper pots. I would pause and catch my

reflection in the water. I was wearing a white Dutch bonnet and apron. A door would

open behind me. I would then turn and cry out, “Pieter!” and then I would wake up. End of

dream. Later, as a teenager, I felt a strong affinity to New York City. My mother teased me,

that it was because I had a speech impediment as a child that I sounded like a hardcore New

Yorker. For example, I said “boyd” instead of “bird.” After successful elocution lessons, I

eventually defied both my New York and Texas accents. As a career woman, I worked in

New York for a few years, but my teenage yearning for the Big Apple slowly faded.

Fast forward to 2002. After two years working in Paris, I decided to move to the

Netherlands. I wanted to continue to live and work in Europe and―yes, I will admit it―I

fell in love with a Dutch man. Although I have not re-dreamed my childhood dream, I reach

back in my dusty memories and it is still there. When I moved, I wondered if I was finally

finding my roots. I imagined that fitting into Dutch society would be extremely easy. I was

certain that I could learn Dutch very quickly. I enrolled in a community college course in

Rotterdam, but was soon frustrated that I could not twist my mouth to make the proper

sounds. I would try at home with Jerry. Jerry is an echte Rotterdammer and speaks four languages:

Dutch, German, English and body language. Although we always spoke in English,

he promised to help me practice Dutch.

In the car, I would spot

signs and nature and say the

words out loud in Dutch.

Look, tree – boom. Easy. Next

I would spot a sign and say

te huur, meaning to rent. My

pronunciation sounded good

to me, but Jerry insisted that

I was saying te hoer: a prostitute.

How could that be? It felt

like tongue gymnastics. I kept

falling off the balance beam.

I continued my studies, but I

became shy about speaking. I

held entire conversations with myself, but when I tried to talk to others, most Dutch people

would screw up their faces and exclaim “EH?” That sound soon became my frustration and

humiliation point. The Dutch have an expression, “lange tenen” (long toes) to describe

super-sensitive people who feel like everyone is constantly stepping on their toes. I haven’t

measured mine properly, but I do believe that my toes grew at least an inch during this period.

For three years, I worked alternate weeks in Paris and Rotterdam. I loved being a Thalys

girl! After a few trips, I realized that speaking Dutch train talk was much easier than attempting

dialogue. The same round of questions happened on every trip. As I left Rotterdam on

the morning train, I gradually understood what the stewards were asking me during meal

service. Every trip was an instant replay where I could fine-tune my accent. I got so good

at it that I momentarily fooled some people into believing that I was Dutch, but any other

30 GOING DUTCH

conversation quickly reverted to English. After all, sinaasappelsap (orange juice) can only take

you so far. When I stopped traveling back and forth, I convinced my company to finance an

immersion week at the language Institute Regina Coeli. At the end of the week, I discovered

that I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was, but I wasn’t as good as I could be.

I spent eight years as a consultant at Shell, where English is the working language. In

my social circle, the conversation formula was always the same. “How long have you lived

in the Netherlands?” “Why aren’t you fluent in Dutch?” My toes grew three inches. I was

always busy translating and parsing sentences in my head to understand content. To form my

response, it took time to string words together and then flip all the verbs to the end. By the

time I was ready to talk, the conversation had moved on. I constructed shorter sentences but

that didn’t work well either. For example, if I wanted to tell a funny story about a pet dog, the

English equivalent that came out of my mouth ran something like this. “I have dog when I

was girl. Good dog.” Telling more of the story would require a session with Google Translate

or my grammar books. I just couldn’t seem to relax and let the language flow. My mistakes

felt demeaning. It was easier to stick with English and not worry about sputtering in Dutch.

It is always so much easier to speak Dutch with people that I do not know and will probably

never see again. As lax as Dutch customer service can be in stores, malls or restaurants,

I am still a paying customer. No nasty “EHs?” but rather honest attempts to communicate

amidst multiple (refused) offers to switch to English. My self-confidence has grown. My

toes retract when I am rewarded with shopkeeper praise.

After 15 years, I cannot claim fluency. However, when inburgering was invoked in my

community, I studied hard. I passed all five culture and fluency tests in a single day, but I

didn’t proactively practice after my victory. I comprehend about 65% of what is said to me.

I am still greeted by the fateful “EH?” that makes my toes tickle. On rare occasion, I will

lose a word in English. All I can remember is the Dutch word. It is those times when I want

to paint my toenails bright orange and wiggle them.

Submissions Needed

To continue along with Going Dutch’s focus on Reflections, the theme for our next

issue will be Reflecting Once Again on the Pandemic. The coronavirus has now

been part of our lives for an entire year. It’s once again time to document what

that has meant to our Members, in a positive manner, of course. Share with us

the silver linings, things you are grateful for, things that you have learned about

yourself and/or your favorite staycation

destinations. Undoubtedly,

this past year will be one that

none of us will ever be able to

forget, so let us know how you

made the most of this tough situation.

Please understand that we

have the right to edit any articles

and are not obligated to publish

all submissions. Send articles or

questions to Melissa White at

goingdutchmag@awcthehague.org

by Monday, March 22.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 31



Blood, Sweat and Chocolate Cake!

by Jo van Kalveen

I

first started to learn Dutch back when Kees and I were living together in London. Once a

week after work, I schlepped across London to a language school for a two-hour lesson

with a teacher named Marieke, a native Dutch speaker who was young and forthright.

The class was mostly made up of people who had a Dutch partner or who wished to move to

the Netherlands. I wasn’t the most dedicated of students, mainly because I had no intention

of ever moving here, but wanted to “show myself willing” and learn some basic Dutch to

impress Kees and his family. When life took a funny turn and I told Marieke I was pregnant

and moving to Holland, her immediate reaction was, “Really? Wow! I’m not sure how you

will ever cope, with your language skills, Jo.” And, to add insult to injury, she made bunny

ears with her hands when saying “language skills.” Well, that was a nice way to send me off.

I made a second attempt at learning Dutch after a year of living here. I was pregnant

with son number two and had severe morning sickness that lasted all day. I struggled to do

the homework and felt guilty about putting son number one, then aged one, into daycare. I

watched the clock throughout the entire lesson. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to

learn. Plus part of me thought we would move back to the UK in the near future, so I really

just wanted help with ordering food in restaurants, shopping and chitchatting about the weather

with the neighbors. I was that pupil who would try and avoid catching the teacher’s eye by

keeping my head down and furiously taking notes. It was like being back in my high school

math class! I was almost relieved when I had to stop when Oliver was born.

Attempt number three came a few years later when I signed up for a more intensive

course, which was two evenings per week. I roped a fellow expat friend into joining me. It

certainly made the lessons more pleasurable―especially when we were put in a class with a

couple of German ladies who became fluent in Dutch overnight and who read Dutch grammar

books “just for fun.” I struggled through; at the end of the course, I got a call from

the teacher to suggest that, instead of moving on to the next level, I repeat the beginners

class because, “Let’s face it, Jo, you are never going to be a language wizard.” (What is it

with Dutch teachers and their motivation techniques?!)

Between attempts three and four came the AWC Dutch Conversation mornings. Becky

Failor, Jessie Rodell and I sat with Greetje Engelsman for an hour or so every week to chat

away in Dutch. We talked about whatever was going on at the time. Greetje often had a very

bemused look on her face, mostly because we were talking more “Dunglish” than Dutch,

but chatting away in a relaxed, friendly environment like that can do wonders for your selfconfidence.

I recommend it! (Come to think of it, cake may also have been involved.)

Attempt number four began when the boys were both

at school and I found myself having more time to devote

to learning Dutch properly. I signed up for a semi-intensive

beginners’ course, four mornings per week for three weeks,

with lots of homework in between. A lovely lady named

Henny was my teacher and the class consisted of just three

of us. Henny would host us at her home, supplying copious

amounts of tea, biscuits, fruit and chocolate cake. If one

of us was struggling, she would gently coax us in the right

direction whilst nudging cake in front of us. I finally learned

some Dutch and put on weight!

32 GOING DUTCH

Henny was brilliant at understanding how

different people learn in different ways. I was

more intuitive; I knew something was right

or wrong but didn’t know why, and I had a

wide vocabulary of Dutch words. I found

grammar incredibly difficult; Henny used to

say, “Jo, you have all of the right words in

that sentence, just in the wrong order. But

that’s OK, have some cake.” One of my

fellow students was a linguist (a professional

interpreter) so she picked up Dutch

easily; the other loved grammar and rules

and wanted to understand the complexities

of the language. Henny made learning Dutch

fun and relevant. We learned the same thing

in different ways, from listening to a Dutch

pop song, watching TV/film clips, to role playing or playing board games. Even now when

I’m compiling Dutch sentences, I still think of Henny holding up two fingers in a V shape at

every opportunity to demonstrate that the verb (mostly) falls in second place in a sentence

(her V representing both verb and two; simple, eh?) I stayed on with Henny for a couple of

years until she retired and one of the class members, now a friend, moved away. Whilst I was

still far from fluent, I could read and understand a lot of Dutch. Henny was a miracle worker!

When the Brexit Referendum plunged us Brits into a bit of a panic about whether

we would be able to stay in the Netherlands, I thought I’d better take the Inburgering (integration)

exams. I duly ordered all the textbooks and sat down one morning and opened them.

Thirty minutes later, with rising anxiety and a migraine, I closed them and put them back on

the shelf―thinking maybe I would just wait a couple more years when I could be optioned

in as a Dutch national due to having lived here for 15 years! Those books are still on my

shelf, gathering dust, along with all the other visual reminders of my quest to learn Dutch.

I would say my lowest point when trying to speak Dutch was once when I was ordering

a cappuccino in a restaurant and was not understood (cappuccino in Dutch is cappuccino!).

Or the time I was trying to buy the boys snow boots. The sales assistant didn’t have a clue

what I was asking about and Luc, then aged about six, tapped me on the arm and said, “Leave

this to me Mum.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! I think I probably cried.

I still smile when, after asking a Dutch person if they speak English, they say “a little”

and then proceed to speak fluent, perfectly formed English sentences. When I say “een

beetje” in response to being asked if I speak Dutch, I really, really mean “een beetje!” But

the Dutch love it if you try.

Lots of people still ask me if Kees and I speak Dutch at home. The answer is a resounding

no. Kees is one of those lovely but annoying people who picks up languages very easily.

He can hear a word once and remember it five years later, whereas I need it repeated about

1,000 times! If I ask Kees for help, it usually goes something like this:

Me: How do you say **** in Dutch?

Kees: You know that.

Me: No, I don’t, that’s why I’m asking you.

Kees: Think about it; you must know this, it’s easy.

Me: <> I really don’t.

Kees: You must know it.

Me: <> Just forget it!

>> 34

So in short, we learned early on that speaking Dutch is not good for our marriage!

MARCH/APRIL 2021 33



Chocolate Cake (cont.)

Continued from page 33

Since the end of Summer 2020, facing yet another lockdown without the lure of a sunny

garden and having decluttered my house top to toe in the first lockdown, I have returned

to my Dutch books―which has surprised both them and me! For various reasons I needed

something to occupy my brain and time. I dug out my course material from Henny’s class and

went back to Chapter One: Ik ben Jo. I’ve been gratified to see how much Henny taught me

that has stuck. In combining the course with one online, too, I’m still terrible at grammar, but

I’m focused and getting through a chapter each week. I’ve adopted the “Henny approach” and

have chocolate cake at hand for when I’m struggling. Who knows, maybe I will get around to

doing those Inburgering exams just to prove to myself I can; but I think that will take a hell

of a lot more chocolate cake first . . .

Chocolate Cake Recipe

Guaranteed to Help You Learn Dutch!

• 125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

• 100ml Guinness or Coca Cola

• 40g cocoa powder

• 200g light brown sugar

• 100ml milk

• 2 large eggs

• 175g plain flour

• 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• Cream cheese or buttercream icing/frosting to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4.

Lightly butter a loaf tin that measures about 20cm x 9cm x 8cm and line with a strip of

baking paper such that the excess hangs over the

sides of the tin (this will make removing the loaf

easier).

Put the butter into a pan and place over medium

heat until melted. Remove from the heat and add

the Guinness/Coca Cola and cocoa powder, whisking

together until smooth. Whisk the sugar, milk

and eggs into the Guinness/Coca Cola mixture.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate

of soda and salt. Add the Guinness/Coca Cola

mixture and whisk briefly until smooth and combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin

and bake in the preheated oven for 40 – 45 minutes

or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the

cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in

the tin for 15 minutes before carefully lifting out;

cool on a wire rack.

Decorate with cream cheese frosting or buttercream

icing.

Eat and become fluent in Dutch :)

34 GOING DUTCH

Two Years On

by Alex Moore

I’ve lived in the Netherlands for two years―two and a half in February. My job is based

in Amsterdam, although I suppose that’s a technicality given that we’re working from

home until who knows when. I also have a resident permit: a verblijfstitel. My Dutch

husband Diederik and I have built our happy home together, so I’m not just a Dutch resident

on paper. Two years and counting has given me a lot of time to figure out the Netherlands.

As for my grasp of Dutch, it’s getting there, but it’s not easy considering all the rules

and irregularities regarding those rules. Don’t get me started on de and het. I’ll always mess

those up. The syntax is another area where I mess up the word order, since Dutch syntax

seems to do what it wants when it wants with no rhyme or reason. At least not that I can tell.

It’s been a good two years, all things considered. Certainly, culture shock is no fun and

I miss certain things about home, but the Netherlands is still a nice place to be. The longer

I’m in Rotterdam, the more it grows on me because it seems like there’s always a new café,

festival, or event to discover. At least there was until the coronavirus. I’m looking forward

to the day when everything opens back up and we can explore again. It may be a small

country, but there is still a lot to explore, whether it’s Friesland, Nijmegen, or Breda. And

everywhere else in between.

While many people do not come to the Netherlands strictly for the cuisine, I’d be lying

if I said I didn’t enjoy bitterballen, pea soup, or stamppot. As for the kaas, it doesn’t get

much cheddar than that. The irony is that it’s hard to find decent cheddar here, but I digress.

I went to Gouda once and purchased a wedge of aged cheese that I demolished in one week

because it was that delicious. I regret nothing.

I think back to the first time I visited the Netherlands in March 2013. I remember looking

out the window of the plane and seeing Amsterdam appear through the clouds as we got closer

to the runway. The thud

as the plane landed and

taxied to the gate. The

bright lights of Witte de

Witstraat in Rotterdam

as we went to a local bar

called De Witte Aap; the

windmills at Kinderdijk;

the Van Gogh Museum

and the evening canal

cruise in Amsterdam.

I didn’t know then

that I’d end up living

here with the guy who

took me to all of those

places. Yet, here we are,

Diederik and I with our

nice life in Zuid Holland

and with our Irish terrier

Murphy.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 35



A Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

by Anne van Oorschot

It was in January 1980 that I left the US, bound for a one-year governess job for an American

family living in Salzburg, Austria. The couple was employed by the Salzburg Seminar, a

conference institute housed in a castle where I would live with them. They had to travel

frequently, thus needed someone to take care of their seven-year-old daughter. I had just completed

my bachelor’s degree, so the timing was perfect for a break, and what an opportunity!

It was at a Salzburg conference in June that I met Hein, a handsome and charming Dutch

fellow. We spent a lot of time together in the week he was there, wrote back and forth after he

returned to The Hague and had two little vacations together in the months that followed. We

also talked about me moving to the Netherlands or he to the US. Was I sure about spending

the rest of my life with this guy already? Of course not, but I did know there was something

REALLY great about our relationship and wanted to give it a shot. Since Hein’s degree was

in Dutch Law, we decided to try living in the Netherlands first. While I liked what I had seen

of the country on my visits there, my experiences in Austria had made me skeptical.

I had a few American friends in Salzburg and had heard stories of difficult experiences

and I had a few stories of my own as well. Like when I tried to buy pecans in a shop to make

a pie. I didn’t see them and described the nut as a slim walnut, reddish in color; the shop

owner said, “We have walnuts and hazelnuts and any other kind of nut you don’t need!” My

employer asked me to pick up some alcohol at the pharmacy for him to mix with water to

fill his windshield wiper washer reservoir; the clerk asked if I wanted 75% or 90% alcohol?

I said either was fine, but then had to explain what I wanted to do with it. The clerk refused

to sell it to me as, “there is special fluid that you buy for that.” I could go on, but you get the

picture! It had never occurred to me that I could not live somewhere, but, as charming as

Salzburg was, I realized I would have a really hard time living there.

I moved to Holland in January1981 and attended my first AWC meeting a few months

later. I still remember two of the women I met―not their names, but their messages when I

said I had just arrived. One woman said, “Poor you!” She hated it here and could not wait to

leave! She hated all the traffic, the “so dangerous!” bikes everywhere, the lack of space, the

tiny stores that weren’t open in the evenings with many of her favorite products unavailable,

the stern Dutch, and the weather . . . ALWAYS gray and rainy! She painted a somber picture

of life in the Netherlands. The other woman had a very different message, “Such a lovely

country, and everything is so close by and convenient!” She loved being able to cycle to

get around, “Exercise built into your daily life!” And what a treat it was in the spring when

beautiful bulb flowers exploded in bloom all over the city. While it did rain regularly and the

winter tended to be gray, there were enough patches of dry weather, with the sun peeking out

regularly to enjoy the wonderful outdoors. She loved it here, “Lucky me that, with a Dutch

partner, I could stay!” And therein lies the trick of living happily someplace: it’s all about

how you look at it. The glass is either half full or half empty.

There are two sides to everything and which side you choose to dwell on is entirely up to

you. Dutch houses are close together, usually with shared walls, making it possible to hear

neighbors, with yards tiny compared to American standards. The flip side is that shared walls

make our heating costs lower, the higher population density makes it possible to have an

excellent public transportation system, and it’s easy for our neighbor to keep an eye on our

house when we are gone for a six-week vacation in Minnesota. While my husband loves to

garden, he prefers the smaller garden in the back of our current house to the big yard around

the free-standing house we had previously. He says he doesn’t want to spend more time

working in the yard, that he has to enjoy sitting in it.

>> 38

36 GOING DUTCH

MARCH/APRIL 2021 37



A Glass Half Full (cont.)

Continued from page 37

Our Floating Bathtub

by Melissa White

I also love how close shops are and how I never have to worry about parking as I go on

my bike. Shopping takes a lot less time than at an XL American supermarket. The excellent

public transportation system meant that, when we lived in Delft, I could walk to the corner

and step into a tram that brought me to the corner next to the previous AWC Clubhouse. It

works perfectly for this Clubhouse as well, by the way, but I no longer live in Delft. Now I

catch the train from Tilburg and sip tea during the 75-minute train ride to The Hague while

reading a book or writing a letter or email. I hop on a tram from the station or rent an NS

bike to get to the AWC’s front door, with no worries over traffic, navigation or parking.

Of course, the weather can be a challenge, and it is definitely a Dutch pastime to complain

about it. When my children were younger and needed to be brought to and from school, I

can remember bemoaning the rain when I looked out of the window during the day. Luckily,

I often discovered that it wasn’t actually raining when I had to head out on my bike to pick

them up. Also, when my kids got into Jr./Sr. high, they were able to bike to school themselves,

as well as to football or baseball practice, piano lessons or to a friend’s house. Many friends

in the US with kids listened enviously and told of the hours they spent taxiing their kids to

sports and other activities.

There was an article in Going Dutch in my early years that had three helpful lessons for

getting along with the Dutch weather:

1. Be honest about the weather you’ve left behind: remember not only the lovely spring

sunsets over the Arizona and Texas landscape, but the summers that are so hot you

can fry an egg on the sidewalk. You can miss the lovely spring and summers in

Minnesota and the Midwest, but don’t forget the tornados and endless snowfall in

other seasons.

2. Get appropriate clothing and dress for the weather: invest in good raingear so that

if you have to go out on a wet day, you can arrive more or less dry.

3. When the weather is nice, get out in it: If the sun is out and the weather is gorgeous,

leave your planned activities for another day (when it is gray and rainy) and go out

to enjoy the beautiful Dutch parks and terraces.

Let me close by saying something about the Dutch. They tend to be pretty straight forward

and while it can be hard to get used to initially, I have come to appreciate it. You know

what they think and since they generally don’t mean any insult or harm it’s kind of handy. I

remember an evening in my early years when we had friends for dinner and our guest commented

on the celery in the salad. He said, “We never eat celery raw, only cooked.” Then he

looked at his wife and said, “By the way, raw is really nice in a salad.” (Whew!)

People often ask me what the biggest difference is between the Netherlands and the US

and, after giving it a lot of thought, my answer is space. The Dutch need less space and are

happy with less of it. It means that people are happy with smaller houses and a smaller yard;

they can be outside in their small yard and speak quietly to not disturb or interact with their

neighbors who are also outside. The tables in restaurants are often smaller and set closer

together; the Dutch can stand closer together without feeling like someone else is “in my

space.” I think I’ve changed over the years to need less space as well and am grateful for

my new attitude. With our climate in crisis, compact is better, and I’m happy my Dutch

glass is half full.

38 GOING DUTCH

Our first rental in the Netherlands was a typical Dutch house built in 1935 on a canal

in a suburb of Leiden. It didn’t take James long to start researching buying a boat. I

reminded him that we didn’t need to own a boat, we just needed to have friends with

boats. Eventually we settled for two used Canadian canoes instead of a very expensive boat.

Our daughters, who were just eight and five when we arrived, spent a lot of time in those

canoes during that two and a half years that we were fortunate enough to live in that lovely

waterfront house.

Fast forward to a beautiful day in June 2020, when our friends brought us out on their boat

to tempt us into buying in as co-owners, as the other co-owners never used the boat and wanted

to be bought out. My main hesitation was that while I knew that boating around Leiden was

fun, I was worried that it would grow weary after a while. So I was thrilled that we quickly left

the canal ring of Leiden and headed towards Leiderdorp, even crossing over a freeway at one

point. Clearly they knew we were suckers for new adventures, so it didn’t take much convincing.

Actually, I use the word “boat” loosely, as I fondly refer to Bootjuh as our “floating bathtub.”

There’s only one seat, which is for the captain, of course; there are also two beanbag chairs,

but I broke down and brought a folding chair. It’s also missing a fuel tank and lights. Luckily

the portable fuel tank fits on the back of James’ bike; he looks quite funny when he cycles up

to a gas station for a refill. In addition to our neighbor’s spare rechargeable lamp that was easy

to strap to the front of the boat, James rigged up a Christmas decoration mounted on top of a

flashlight strapped to a pole; he’s clearly hoping

not to find out what the authorities think of his

lighting solutions.

On the negative side, our little putt-putt

motor is quite loud. On the positive side, € 2

of fuel lasts well over an hour (much longer

than € 2 of wine), which makes for pretty darn

affordable entertainment. Our timing was perfect

to be able to enjoy the amazing summer

and fall weather exploring Leiden and beyond

with other couples or on our own and giving

us yet another reason to love living in Holland.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 39



I Remember

by Eileen Harloff

I

first came to the Netherlands in 1957 as a Fulbright Fellow assigned to work for a year

at the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA) in The Hague. World War II was

still vivid in peoples’ memories and the nation was just getting on its feet financially and

socially. America was a land they admired and wanted to emulate in various ways; Americans

were welcome. I knew very little about the country and what life would be like. Of course, I

knew about the little boy who saved his fellow countrymen by putting his finger in the dike.

I knew that windmills were abundant, and that many people wore wooden shoes and liked

to skate on the frozen canals.

My first home in The Hague had been arranged for me in the house of a doctor who lived

on the ground floor, his mother on the second and I in the attic on the third, on the Frederick

Hendriklaan in the Statenkwartier. The stairway was steep, and my small room contained a

sink, round table covered with a Persian rug, worktable (for typing and cutting up veggies,

etc.), table on which was placed a two-burner stove, and two chairs. Next door was the bedroom

and a toilet room, with a pull chain which I pulled too hard causing it to come crashing

down; both were unheated. I immediately put the table carpet in the closet, fearful of spilling

food on it, unpacked as best I could and went out on a tiny balcony that overlooked the street.

It was clear to me that the washbasin was intended for washing dishes, clothing and body.

As my landlady and I could not communicate except with gestures, and not wanting to

play the role of a rich American used to a separate bathroom, I accepted the situation as it

was. Fortunately, I met a woman from the US Embassy who lived in the neighborhood and

offered me the use of her bathroom (without a shower). Ironically, it was on a day just before

I was leaving The Hague after a two-year stay that I saw an open door on the landing and,

much to my surprise, it revealed a bathroom with a bathtub. Apparently, it was being used

by my landlady and an elderly woman who lived in a backroom whom I had never seen.

And to think that I had felt sorry for my landlady all that time because I thought she didn’t

have a proper bathroom.

In the middle of the orientation week for the Fulbright Fellows, we were told that we had

a real treat coming to us: we were going to Soestdijk Palace to meet Queen Juliana. I was

relieved that the girls were not

expected to curtsy, we were to talk

only when spoken to, and we were

to be on our best behavior. We

arrived at the palace at precisely

the time allotted, formed a line,

gave the Queen our names and

shook her hand. We then waited

at the side of the room until the

Queen lit a cigarette and we were

free to mingle for a short time before

climbing back onto our bus

to return to Noordwijk, where we

were learning about the history

and culture of the Netherlands and

were given our first Dutch lessons.

40 GOING DUTCH

Having done graduate work in local government,

I was assigned to spend the coming

year at the IULA in the center of The Hague.

There was a tram outside my house, and

I climbed aboard it and off we went, ending

up a short time later in Scheveningen―

oops, wrong direction. I changed to the right

tram and ended up in town, but where was

Paleisstraat? After several attempts, I found

out―surprise, surprise, it was across from

the Palace on Noordeinde. I was cordially

received at the IULA office and we sat down

on large but low-slung chairs around a table

on which was an ashtray and cigarettes. We

were then served a cup of coffee, lit up a cigarette and chatted. At a certain point I found that

there was a movement under my left arm―what could it be? When I surreptitiously looked

down, I discovered that my elbow was not on the arm of the chair, but was actually on the

boss’s knee. I was horrified and blurted out, “I am so sorry, please excuse me,” to which his

reply was, laughingly, that he thought I had done it intentionally. Fortunately he had a sense

of humor and we became good friends during my stay which lasted not one, but two years.

I went back to the US on the maiden voyage of the SS Rotterdam on September 3, 1959.

Among the 1,200 passengers on the ship were a few other Fulbright Fellows on the lower

deck and Princess Beatrix on the top deck. The Fulbright boys wanted to invite the Princess

to come down and have coffee with us, and so an invitation was sent upstairs. The Princess’s

lady-in-waiting informed us that it would not be possible for her to come down, but that we

were welcome to come up to her quarters, which of course we did. The rules were not as

strict as with the Queen, but it was clear that

the Princess was feeling a bit overwhelmed

by us. We were offered coffee and taartjes

and were enjoying them and chatting with her

when one of the boys dropped his taartje down

the front of his shirt, much to his chagrin and

our amusement as Beatrix’s lady-in-waiting

cleaned him up.

As we were coming into New York Harbor,

I spotted the Statue of Liberty. After two years

in Holland, I felt very emotional seeing this

most American site. I was coming home.

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!

MARCH/APRIL 2021 41



Since My First Days Here

by Roberta Enschede

When it was suggested that I write another article about living in Holland, I knew it

would not be about discovering Dutch art or tulip fields or where to find American

products. It’s about me and a discovery I made on the third day I was in the

Netherlands.

My father-in-law, who had a tiny blue 2CV Citroen that I used to refer to as “a can-opener

car,” asked me if I wanted to take a ride and see some of Amsterdam. I met him for the first

time that day. I wanted to be nice, so I said OK. I knew he was born in Amsterdam in a canal

house on the Herengracht.

We drove from Amsterdam Zuid, where we were staying,

down to the area not far from his birthplace and near the

ancient Portuguese Synagogue. We got out of the car and he

showed me the giant sculpture honoring the dockworkers

who went on strike in February 1942 to protest the deportation

of the Jewish people. He stood and looked and started

to mention names of Jewish boys he grew up with in that

neighborhood. He was not Jewish. He’d sort of look, stare out,

mention a name of a friend, take his own time to remember

and sometimes, forlornly tell me they were gone.

I remember thinking for the first time in my life that because

I am Jewish, one of those people could have been me

or my sister, my Mom, my Dad, or my friends in Chicago.

For the first couple of months that I was here, I would go out and just roam around

Amsterdam. Very often I got lost. I didn’t care. I was always wondering what it was like

before, when the Jewish people were there. I kept thinking what would New York or Chicago

feel like if from one year to the next, there were no more Jewish people? What would my

cities sound like? Smell like? Would the delis disappear and sounds like Oi and a bagel

with a schmear? What about all the artists, writers, lawyers, doctors, Jewish mothers and

matzoh ball soup?

For the first time in my life, I wanted to walk down the street and tell everyone, “I am

a Jew! Do you hear me―a Jew and I’m here and I’m alive.” After a couple of months, I

met a Jewish American woman who was a sociologist by training. I told her that I wasn’t

interested in anything but walking around Amsterdam and trying to reconstruct in my mind

what the real Amsterdam was like. She told me, “It happens to all of us. We feel guilty

because we’re alive.”

The following spring, on the evening of May 4, when the Dutch remember those who

died in the war, I decided to go to a service at the liberal synagogue. I very rarely went to a

synagogue in the US. I had no need or interest, but here, I had a need, so I went. There were

very few people, all older. I remember feeling like an intruder. I knew they had memories,

stories to tell―memories I could only try, but would never be able, to understand. I could

never feel what those people felt, but I still think about how they looked, how alone with

their thoughts they seemed to be.

42 GOING DUTCH

Now, whenever I go to

Amsterdam and visit the

Jewish Historical Museum

opposite the Portuguese

Synagogue and the

Dockworker’s Statue, I always

find myself thinking

that the museum shouldn’t

be there. It is a building

that once housed four synagogues,

but after the war,

there were no people left to

fill them.

About a year ago, we

drove down to explore a

little town in the south:

Zaltbommel. It was one of

our “be a tourist in Holland” days. As we walked, we looked down and noticed Stolpersteine

before one house after another. It was a beautiful early evening, but those stones, those

Stolpersteine quickly turned the evening around. On those stones were engraved the names of

Jewish people, when they were deported, and when and where they died. In the Netherlands,

that history is ever present: in Wassenaar where I live, in Zaltbommel, in Amsterdam, everywhere.

My Jewish identity too is ever present. There are always reminders. For many years, I’ve

gone to the synagogue on the High Holidays, fasted on the Day of Atonement, commemorated

Passover and lit the lights of Hannukah. If you ask me why I go to the synagogue, one reason

is because I want to make certain every seat is filled. It’s like I’m going for those who were

taken away. It’s probably the reason I fast and commemorate Hannukah and Passover―a

way of feeling at one with my people and knowing that the people who lived in Amsterdam

and grew up with my father-in-law and the people in Zaltbommel and all over Holland will

not be forgotten.

I never had such feelings in New York or Chicago where I grew up. Here in Holland,

to this day, they are with me. It took living here for me to discover how much being born

Jewish means and will always mean to me. It took living here to for me to commit myself to

do what I can and never ever

accept racism, anti-Semitism

or white supremacy, ever! I

guess when one realizes it

could have been me, standing

against hatred is not an

option, it is the only choice

a person has.

Eli Wiesel, survivor of

the Holocaust, author and recipient

of the Nobel Peace

Prize in 1986 once wrote,

“It’s not that we remember,

it’s what we do with those

memories.”

MARCH/APRIL 2021 43



Reflecting on Life in Holland

by Melissa Rider

What do you like best about living in Holland? And what do you like the least?

These are the two most frequently asked questions by my friends and family in

the US as well as Dutch friends and acquaintances. The answers: biking, of course (fietsen,

natuurlijk)! And the weather (het weer)!

The unpredictable Dutch weather of rain and wind is not ideal for cycling, but nevertheless,

the Netherlands holds the record as the nation with the most bikes per capita and is an

extremely bike-friendly country with its continuous network of bike paths, clearly signposted

and well maintained.

When I first moved here in 2006, I opted not to get a Dutch driver’s license and instead

decided to rely solely on my bike and public transportation. My two sons, who were in the

7th and 9th grades at the time, did not particularly like my choice when on their very first

day at their new school, they had to cycle 1.6 miles (2.7 km) in the pouring rain. However,

in all the years from 2006 – 2012, I had only one occasion to wish for a Dutch driver’s license:

when I was cycling to the American School of The Hague in a sleeting rain to deliver

a crockpot full of meatballs to my son for a Student Government lunch. As the saying goes,

“there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing,” so the boys and I survived

the bad weather days and enjoyed the health benefits of cycling to all of our daily activities.

Upon my return to Holland in 2017, I once again chose not to obtain a Dutch driver’s license

and have yet to regret my decision.

My fondest biking memories to date will

be the trip through the eastern provinces of

the Netherlands with my father and two sons

organized by me in 2009 and a repeat of that

trip nine years later with just my dad, Tom,

and me. I relied heavily on the book Bicycle

Touring Holland by Katherine Widing to plan

the trip in 2009. Through her research, I had

my map to follow and a list of homes that

offered cyclists bed & breakfasts that were

booked through the local VVVs (tourist offices).

While there were some minor changes to the original itinerary, the second trip was

much easier to execute with overnight accommodation and tourist info research done on

the Internet. Also, the now established fietsknooppuntennetwerk, a network of junctions in

which bicycle routes can be put together and was only in its infancy in 2009, made the daily

routes super easy to plan and follow. For both trips, I carried six detailed bike trail maps,

but in 2018 I had the advantage of Google Maps on my phone to get me to the doorstep of

our nightly accommodations, if need be.

Meppel, Kampen, Deventer, Doesburg, and

Nijmegen.

For the first portion of the trip in Groningen

and Drenthe, we cycled through picturesque

towns, by tidy farms, alongside canals,

and through mature forests. Sites included

Hunebedden, megalithic tombs, and Kamp

Westerbork, a detention and transit camp for

Dutch Jews in WWII. The second half of the

week was spent cycling on the dikes beside the

Ijssel River and passing by or through the once prosperous Hanseatic Towns. The weather

was hot and sunny with a few days approaching 85°F (30°C) and absolutely no rain or wind.

It was idyllic!

My second bike trip with my father from June 9 to 17, 2018, added the provinces of Utrecht

and Zuid Holland to the 2009 trip itinerary and we averaged 36 miles (60km) per day for a

total of 325 miles (542 km). The weather for the week was lovely with temperatures averaging

around 70°F (20°C) with the exceptions of one rainy afternoon and one windy, blustery day.

We followed a southerly path from Groningen to Zutphen, where we then departed from

our touring of the Hanseatic towns and riding along the IJssel River by heading west through

the Veluwezoom National Park, Hoge Veluwe National Park, and Gouda before ending at

home in Wassenaar. Hoge Veluwe is the largest

nature reserve in the Netherlands and offers

a mixture of heaths, woodlands, sand dunes,

and grassy fields for visitors to explore. We

circumvented the city of Utrecht by hopping on

the train which allowed us more time to explore

the bucolic countryside and in particular the

UNESCO World Heritage site at Kinderdijk, a

series of 19 magnificent windmills built around

1740 to help with the water management system

to prevent flooding in the area. I cannot

imagine a better way to experience this site except by bicycle. Overall, the trip was fantastic,

but made even more special by the celebration of my dad’s 80th birthday in Dwingeloo.

Both trips were grand adventures which will forever keep the Netherlands’ biking culture,

citizens, and country dear to my heart.

From June 28 to July 6, 2009, Tom, Ian, Jonathan and I toured the provinces of Groningen,

Drenthe, Overijssel, and Gelderland by bicycle. Averaging 30 miles (50km) per day, we traveled

222 miles (370km) in 9 days between the towns of Groningen and Nijmegen. We traveled

by train from The Hague to Groningen with our four bikes and saddlebags loaded with

our personal gear. At the end of the trip, we boarded the train in Nijmegen to return to The

Hague. We stayed in small B&Bs or hotels in the towns of Groningen, Borger, Dwingeloo,

44 GOING DUTCH

MARCH/APRIL 2021 45



I Was Hooked

by Georgia Regnault

May 12, 1952: that is when these two

photos were taken, and they have

hung in their same frames in all of

my homes ever since. I was nine years old

and that was my introduction to Holland―the

Netherlands was far too big a word to use

in 4th grade! Mrs. Boynton was my teacher

and the little girl next to me, Patty, is a sister-in-law

of Judy Treanor, a former AWC

Member, whom many of you knew. Talk

about a small world! Oh, I should tell you

this was in Providence, Rhode Island―like

Holland, a small place.

Unfortunately, the photos have faded, but

one can certainly see the background of typical

Dutch houses and a couple of sailboats, so

there must have been water. And, of course,

the windmills give it away. The second picture

shows about half of the class gathered

around our teacher’s desk. I have included

this one because the girl standing to right of

the teacher was a celebrity in our class. Her

father, Ivan Fuqua, had been a track and field

athlete in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.

And what did she bring to our class during this

project―a big wooden shoe that was given

to all the Olympians that year. I have always remembered seeing that proudly exhibited on

their mantelpiece. Knowing this man might have spiked my life-long interest in sports. No

gold for him in Amsterdam, but four years later, he did win one for the 4x400-meter relay

race in Los Angeles.

I firmly believe that this 4th grade experience jump-started my interest in Holland, as

I remember thinking it was such a storybook place―I wanted to go there. My sister first

came here in 1958 (I was 15), on a tour run by NBBS, a Dutch student travel agency, so she

obviously came home with all sorts of wonderful stories. Dutch students she had met came

to our house for Thanksgiving, so I became even more curious about this small country.

In 1963, it was my turn to take this tour of Europe in a Volkswagen bus with a Dutch

student driver―no backpacking in those days for college girls! But I was hooked! A week in

the Netherlands was not enough to discover this kikkerland. Upon graduation from college

and finding no employment in mathematics on the horizon, I took a job with a travel agency

in an office of two: myself and a Dutchman, who had just finished university. Our converted

closet office was located on the Holland-American Line Pier in New York City. Fabulous year

with lots of work to be done, but also lots of playing. I think every Dutch student who came

to the US passed through our office to say hello or to have a jenever (Dutch gin), sherry or a

Heineken with us. We also waved goodbye to every sailing that left the pier bound for Europe.

46 GOING DUTCH

This job only lasted for one year, but it

did have a fantastic perk: free transportation

on one of the student ships to Europe

for the summer. Well, I wasn’t going to

just stay for a couple of months, but decided

to spend a year in Amsterdam. Luckily

I found employment at Time-Life; they

needed native English-speaking people.

Another fantastic year, discovering all

that Amsterdam had to offer; skating in

the winter, football games in the Olympic

Stadium, long evenings in small brown

café’s, all enjoyed with Dutch friends,

whom I had met in New York. After 11

months, I decided that I probably should

go back to the US and use that education I

had earned. And as luck or fate would have

it, the very next day after handing in my

resignation at Time-Life and booking the

trip back to the US, I met Peter, my future

husband. What now? You can imagine

how the first year, being so far away on my

own, also had its difficult moments. My

living quarters were rather spartan, and with no telephone, I had to make an appointment at

the post office to call my parents. My job, although paying well because it was an American

company, was probably not going anywhere. I felt it was time to end these two gap years.

After a whirlwind two-month romance with Peter, I still stuck to my plan and sailed away

from Rotterdam. After four months with a

fascinating campaign job for the governor

of Rhode Island, I returned to Holland on

the day after Thanksgiving. Luck was on

my side again and I was rehired by Time-

Life for a better position. And Peter and I

became engaged on January 1, 1967. The

rest of our 50 years together will have

to be for another time, but suffice it to

say that we lived in Amsterdam, Assen,

Wassenaar and The Hague with two foreign

assignments in Hamburg, Germany

and Curaçao.

Looking back on that fourth-grade

project building a Dutch village, I guess

I was just destined to live here. And what

does Holland mean to me? The other pictures

in this article all come from paintings

I own. The flowers, the pastures, the

dunes, the canals, the churches, the Pollard

willows, the cows―Holland is still that

storybook country I learned about those

many, many years ago.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 47



Musings While Cycling

by Becky Failor

Some of my fondest memories of living

in the Netherlands are the times I

spent on my bike. We chose to live in

Rijswijk so that my husband, Hugh Gregg,

could cycle to his laboratory from home. It

took him less time to ride his bike than to

drive! And I used my bike far more than I

ever used our car. There was a freedom in the

bike rides and an ability to “take it all in.”

One of my more infamous bike rides was

to Delft in December 2016, to pick up a few

“Dutchy” souvenirs for a Christmas gift. My

front tire slipped out on the polished stone

around the Stadhuis and DOWN I WENT.

Thinking that my injury wasn’t too serious,

I did my souvenir shopping and hobbled

to a café to wait for Hugh to pick me up.

However, my leg soon started to swell at

it was indeed broken, but I didn’t let this

incident put me off from getting back on my

bike as soon as I could.

Of course, we moved our Dutch bikes

to California when we returned in 2018.

Unfortunately, the hill where we live is far

too steep to cycle up, so we must load up

our bike carrier onto our car just to go out

for a ride. How I miss the freedom of hopping on my bike to run my errands and just to get

out and about.

In 2016, I wrote this piece below for Going Dutch and it seems like a fitting reflection

of my time in the Netherlands.

Musing While Cycling to the AWC Clubhouse

• It’s such a sign of love, caring, and support when I see a mother or father riding with

their hand on their child’s back as they ride together.

• I love all the different ways you can pile kids onto parents’ bikes.

• I love bakfiets as it’s so cute to see kids in them. It’s also fun to see bier kratten in them.

• Little push bikes (without pedals) are such a great way to get toddlers used to balancing

a bike.

• Lots of people like to take photos of the Hofvijver. I remember doing that 15 years

ago on my first visit to The Hague.

• I like the signs on the bike path that say things like “Put away your phone and notice

the nature around you” and “Don’t SMS, talk to a real person” or “Get out of the

virtual world and into the real one.”

• It’s not a bad thing when my usual bike route is torn up for construction as I get to

48 GOING DUTCH

discover new parts of my neighborhood or around The Hague.

• It’s great to see all the families riding with beach paraphernalia on a lovely warm

day at Scheveningen.

• I still have not mastered holding onto the post with my feet still on the pedals while

waiting for the light to change.

• I accidentally wrapped my bike lock chain around another person’s bike, which was

next to the post I had intended to lock to. Luckily the man was quite nice about the

five minutes he had to wait for me to exit the store.

• My husband has a rule for me in bike riding: No flat-Beckies. I must always look

both ways.

• I am still surprised how many people smoke while cycling. Then I remember

that cycling in Holland is more of a

form of transportation than a form

of exercise.

• Wearing leggings is the only way I

am comfortable riding very far in

a skirt. Maybe I should try a skirt

bike seat?

• Cars and trucks parked across the

bike path bug me!

• It was so cute when I saw a young

girl riding with her doll in a special

seat on her bike just the same as on

her mom’s bike.

• Don’t forget to ride perpendicular to

the tram tracks to avoid getting your

tires caught in the grooves.

• It made me smile when a lady said

she liked that the color of my panniers

and bike matched.

• I love riding down the tree lined

roads of Huis te Landelaan and

General Spoorlaan in Rijswijk.

• I enjoy waving at the neighbors on

my little street.

One-of-a-Kind Activities

With lockdown restrictions changing constantly, it is difficult to plan One-ofa-Kind

Activities too far in advance. We are hoping to reschedule some of our

cancelled fall events in addition to implementing some new fun ideas. Please

keep informed of newly added events through Facebook and eNews. If you

have a suggestion for an activity―either virtual or in-person―please send

to Melissa Rider at vicepresident@awcthehague.org or Sarah Partridge

at activities@awcthehague.org.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 49



It Always Pours in the Netherlands

by Anne van Oorschot

When thinking about life in the Netherlands, I think back upon when I was first in

the country and eager to fit in. I wrote an article for Going Dutch in 1991 about

my first Jaar Club weekend―it is still spot on regarding Dutch hospitality―and

thought I’d share it with you.

My husband and I just returned from our Jaar Club weekend and it was, as usual, lots

of fun. Since not everyone will know what a Jaar Club is, let me explain.

Here in the Netherlands, the university

system is much different from the US, one of

the most visible differences being the lack of

a campus as we know it. The college buildings

may be located more or less in one or

two areas (at least they are in Rotterdam),

but there are no dormitories or other student

living quarters clustered together. The

students who don’t commute simply rent a

room somewhere in town. This makes contact

among students less automatic, which is why

Dutch student clubs are so widely joined.

They are much larger than the Greek system

in the US and often have hundreds of members, both male and female. For that reason, first

year students often form small groups with 5 to 15 other new students, and these small groups

are referred to as (first) year clubs, or Jaar Clubs in Dutch.

Sometimes a Jaar Club will stay together as a group only the first year or two. Other

times, the members remain a group for the duration of their university studies and often for

awhile after they’ve embarked on careers and “life after college” in general. It’s rather rare,

however, for a Jaar Club to remain together for as long as my husband’s club has.

This past weekend we celebrated the group’s 20th anniversary. (We would have celebrated

our 49th anniversary in 2020, but it had to be postponed due to COVID-19. We are

already postponing our 50th anniversary until 2022 in the hope that we can go to Huesca,

Spain in honor of the Saint the student club

is named for.) When I joined the group as a

spouse in 1981, there were no children, and

now there are 18 (!) with the oldest one 10

and the youngest 3½ months. Twice annually

we rent a big house somewhere in the

Netherlands and move in from Friday afternoon

till Sunday evening; everyone shares

in the shopping, cooking and cleaning up.

The spring weekend is with the kids (they

all love it!!!) and the fall is just for the 14

adults. Heerlijk!! (Delightful). However, I

have to laugh when I think back to my first

Jaar Club weekend.

50 GOING DUTCH

I hadn’t been in the country long and was completely in the dark as to many Dutch

habits and customs, but was eager to fit in. Dutch husbands aren’t terribly helpful in this

area as it usually doesn’t occur to them that there’s anything to explain, “How else would

you do that??”

When I got up Saturday morning, someone had already made coffee and tea, “Would I

like something to drink while breakfast is in progress?” One cup of tea and one refill later

everyone was up and breakfast slowly appeared on the table. There was more coffee and tea

to go with breakfast, and I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich which everyone agreed

was a revolting combination. Being new and innocent in such matters, I said nothing about

peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles or peanut butter with sambal. After three cups of tea

(at least) during the long breakfast, everyone pitched in to help clear the table and do dishes.

Now the group gathered in the living room of our weekend house and what appeared

on the table? More coffee and tea. Two cups of tea and two cookies later, it was decided we

would go for a walk. We returned 1½ hours later after being lekker uitgewaait. (This translates

roughly to “being blown through deliciously”. It’s hard to translate it better because

we simply don’t have the concept that it’s delicious to be blown around like that!)

Once we were again settled in our gezellig huisje what appeared? Coffee and tea again.

Since I don’t like coffee (and my husband’s aunt thought I looked so nice!?) I was poured

another cup of tea. After two or three cups and a piece of taart, sorry, cake, all food and

beverages disappeared.

Their absence was of short duration, however, and at 4:30 p.m. the next category of

beverages appeared and de borrel began. Luckily for me, there was a variety of drinks available;

from orange juice and cola to wine, beer and jenever. I started with orange juice and

moved on to wine later. The Dutch are very polite and good hosts, so every time my glass

was empty, “Did I want a refill of something?” Not wanting to be different, I allowed my

glass to be filled again.

During dinner there was wine and after the dishes were done, what should appear but more

coffee and tea. After my third cup of tea―and my 25th trip to the WC―I was definitely all

tea-ed out and said so. It seemed as if the rest of the group was done as well since the cups

all disappeared. Wonder of wonders, however, they were soon followed by the appearance

of wine, beer and soft drink glasses. I literally floated to bed some time after that and had

long since lost track of how many liters I had poured into myself that day. I understood from

my husband that those who really stayed up till the wee hours indulged in another round of

coffee and tea before going to bed, but I am very glad to have missed it!

After many years in the

Netherlands, I’m not so worried about

fitting in, and if I feel myself starting to

float, I have no trouble missing a round

of whatever is being served. I must admit,

though, that it remains difficult not

to drink here. If you doubt this, next

time you visit a Dutch friend when

they ask you what you’d like to drink,

tell them, “Nothing, I’m not thirsty.”

The looks on their faces should convince

you that in a good Dutch house,

it always pours.

MARCH/APRIL 2021 51



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MARCH/APRIL 2021 53



The Hill We Climb

by Roberta Enschede

Where a skinny Black girl descended from

slaves and raised by a single mother can

dream of becoming President,

only to find herself reciting for one.

I kept wondering why only Lady Gaga

and Jennifer Lopez were singing at the

Inauguration Ceremony of President Joe

Biden. With all of the incredible African

American artists, why did the Inauguration

Committee not ask one of them?

Then, at the end of the ceremony, Amanda

Gorman was introduced―the first Youth Poet

Laureate of the US. A slight young woman

walked to the podium overlooking the nearly

200,000 American flags representing those

who couldn’t attend the ceremony due to the

pandemic. That slight, beautiful young woman

dressed in the yellow of daylight and sunshine

began to speak. She was slight no more.

Hers was and is and will be a clarion call ―a

challenge to all who believe in justice, peace,

and equality. Amanda asked:

Where can we find the light in this never-ending

shade? What ‘just is’ isn’t always justice.

On January 20, she stood in the place where

those who would destroy democracy in the

name of democracy shoved, beat, shattered,

and broke their way into the hallowed halls

of the United States Capitol. January 6, 2021

will live in infamy, but Amanda, in her youthful

optimism and artistry, wrote:

Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation

that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

it can never be permanently defeated.

She then vowed to the riveted world:

We will not march back to what was, but move

to what shall be: a country that is bruised but

whole, benevolent but bold, fierce, and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted

by intimidation.

And, in the spirit of Maya Angelou, she

spoke of rising....

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous

one. We will rise from the golden hills

of the West. We will rise from the windswept

Northeast where our forefathers first realized

revolution. We will rise from the lakerimmed

cities of the Midwestern states.We

will rise from the sunbaked South. We will

rebuild, reconcile and recover.

She looked straight out across the flags

and the Reflecting Pool to the spire of the

Washington Memorial and the Memorial

where Abe Lincoln sits, and where Martin

Luther King and John Lewis once stood, and

spoke out for liberty and justice for all. This

diminutive “skinny Black girl descended

from slaves” pronounced for the world to

hear:

There is always light, if only we’re brave

enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough

to be it.

Dr. Jill Biden first heard Amanda recite one

of her poems at the Library of Congress.

Being an educator, she recognized an incredible

young artist, and that’s how a 22-yearold

woman became not only the first Youth

Poet Laureate, but the youngest Inaugural

Poet. A collection of her poetry entitled The

Hill We Climb and a picture book written as a

children’s anthem entitled Change Sings will

be published in September.

On a personal note, I love poetry, and have

taught and done oral interpretation of poetry.

I have always believed that a poet can encapsulate

in a few words the essence of things.

We’ve heard speeches and sermons about

coming together, compromise, and diversity.

In eight simple words, Amanda Gorman,

poet, said it all:

If only were brave enough to be it.

54 GOING DUTCH

MARCH/APRIL 2021 55



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