AWC Going Dutch May June 2021

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

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


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Going Dutch

May/June 2021


Sarah and Melissa journeyed far and wide

to take Front Door Lockdown Portraits of

AWC Members


Learn about how plastic litter has

increased globally during the pandemic

30 - 50

Searching for silver linings as we revisit

the pandemic again

The Magazine of the

American Women’s Club

of The Hague

Table of Contents

5 Officers and Chairwomen

6 Front Door Lockdown Portraits

8 Message from the President

9 General Meetings

10 Ramblings from the Editor

12 Membership

12 Newcomers

14 Ongoing Activities

15 One-of-a-Kind Activities

16 Book Lovers

18 Plastic and the Pandemic

20 AWC and the Arts

21 Memorial Day

22 Slate of Officers

25 FAWCO Corner

28 Calendar


30 Jo van Kalveen

34 Suzanne Dundas

36 Hanny Gale

38 Dena Haggerty

39 Eileen Harloff

40 Celeste Brown

41 Melissa Rider

42 Mary Adams

43 Alex Moore

44 Veronica White

46 Melissa White

48 Jan de Vries

50 Friesland

54 My Happy Place

52 Classifieds

53 Advertising Rates

53 Index of Advertisers

MAY/JUNE 2021 3


Melissa White

2021-2022 AWC Officers

Committee Chairs

AWC Clubhouse

Johan van Oldenbarneveltlaan 43

2582 NJ Den Haag

Tel: 070 350 6007



Going Dutch Magazine


Clubhouse Hours

By Appointment Only

Dues (Effective 2021-2022)

€ 110 per year (€ 66 after January 1)

€ 90 business, professional

€ 55 valid US military ID

€ 35 full-time students under age 26

€ 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 Sept/Oct issue, submissions are due before Monday, July 26.

Please Note: Articles submitted to Going Dutch will be published subject to space limitations and

editorial approval. All rights reserved; reprints only by written permission of the Editor. Please email to:


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

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


Design and Layout

Teresa Mahoney


Leiden, Summer 2020


Greetje Engelsman, Melissa White


Celeste Brown, Jane Gulde, Diane Schaap,

Debbie van Hees

Advertising Manager & Invoicing



Mary Adams, Molly Boed, Barbara

Brookman, Celeste Brown, Jane Choy,

Jan de Vries, Suzanne Dundas, Greetje

Engelsman, Roberta Enschede, Hanny Gale,

Dena Haggerty, Eileen Harloff, Alex Moore,

Georgia Regnault, Melissa Rider, Jo van

Kalveen, Anne van Oorschot, Veronica White



AWC Bank Account Number

IBAN: NL42ABNA0431421757

KvK Den Haag

40409274 BTW or VAT: 007408705B01

Honorary President Marja Verloop

President Barbara Brookman


Vice President Wynne Davis


Treasurer Anne van Oorschot


Secretary Marilyn Tinsay


Club and Community Development




Clubhouse Administration Officer

Monica Rodoni


Communications Lesley Gerrese


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


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.

MAY/JUNE 2021 5

Front Door




MAY/JUNE 2021 7

Message from the President

by Barbara Brookman

Spring is in the air and with it comes

the hope that we may be able to do a

little more in the coming weeks. I look

forward to sitting on a terrace enjoying the

company of friends, visiting a museum or

participating in an in-person club activity.

It’s been a lonely time for all of us, but you

have been there for one another and our Club

has adapted.

Welcome Marja Verloop as Our

New Honorary President

I’m happy to announce that Chargé

d’Affaires Marja Verloop will be our new

Honorary President. Marja arrived in the

Netherland in June 2019 as Deputy Chief

of Mission and assumed the responsibility

as Chargé d’Affaires for the US Mission

in the Netherlands when Ambassador

Spring General Meetings

by Melissa Rider

For the past year, all of our General

Meetings with the exception of our

September 2020 Kick Off have been

held virtually. Unfortunately, with coronavirus

restrictions always changing, it is difficult

to make meeting plans too far in advance.

Please just SAVE THE DATES for our next

two General Meetings before the summer

break and keep informed of program details

via our website calendar, Facebook and


Installation of Officers

With Ascension Day falling on the second

Thursday of the month this year, the

Installation of Officers Ceremony, our May

General Meeting program, will be held on

Thursday, May 20.

Save the Date:

Fall Kick Off

Thursday, September 9

I would like to thank our 2020-2021 Board

Members and Chairs for their flexibility and

agility in dealing with the challenges we

have faced in this COVID-19 year. I could

not have done it without you and really

couldn’t have done it without the help of

Melissa Rider as Vice President. She knows

how the Club runs like no one else and her

advice, support and friendship have been invaluable

to me.

We have a great Board lined up for the upcoming

Club Year (you can read their bios

on page 22). I would like

to thank Celeste Brown

and the Nominating

Committee for

drawing on new

and old Members

to build this team.

AWC The Hague

is ready for another



Hoekstra and our previous Honorary

President Diane Hoekstra returned home.

Marja spoke

at our General

Meeting in


2019 about

her experience


back to the


She was born

here, but raised

and educated

in the US. Her

work has taken

her, her husband and two kids to many locations

around the world.


June General Meeting

With warmer weather in June and perhaps

the re-opening of restaurant terraces, the

Board is hoping to have a socially-distanced

celebration at Scheveningen Beach

on Thursday, June 10. Stay tuned for more


MAY/JUNE 2021 9

Ramblings from the Editor

by Melissa White

As I write this, we have just passed

the one-year mark of the Netherlands’

first national pandemic lockdown and

we’re all eagerly awaiting the lifting of this

latest round of restrictions which has left restaurants

(except for takeaway) and bars (except

for those that converted into beer stores

like ours in Voorschoten, which we now visit

every Friday to stock up on interesting beers

for the weekend) closed for over six months

and museums closed for over four months,

upending several AWC planned tours of exhibits.

To make matters worse personally,

as I write this my father is dying. While he

is not a coronavirus casualty, the pandemic

upended my family’s plans to visit my parents

for their 40th anniversary and his 80th

birthday this past summer. I am likely not

alone in regretting that I didn’t take a leap of

faith and travel to see my father sooner. So,

like many, coronavirus has left me distraught.

Only in the darkness can you see

the stars. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Honestly, I never would have predicted that

we would be dedicating yet another issue of

Going Dutch to Reflecting on the Pandemic,

but I am thankful that there have been silver

linings, some of which you can read about

in our special section starting on page 30.

One such story was written by my eldest

daughter, Veronica. She recently became

fascinated with mine and my husband’s love

story, interviewing us separately presumably

to compare the “she said” versus “he

said” versions that she’ll hopefully share

with us soon. In the meantime, I’m thrilled

that I had an excuse to get her to write about

her own love story, which the pandemic

helped to put on fast-forward (see page 44).

And here’s another confession: I wasn’t

excited when I was contacted by Sarah

Partridge to help with her Front Door

Lockdown Portraits Project; I hope you’ll

agree that the results turned out pretty great

(see page 6). As much as I love photography,

I tried just about everything I could think of

to get out of helping her. However, she’s a

very persuasive woman and generously offered

to transport me to all of the appointments

(which were far and wide away from

my village as The Hague is huge). Thank

you, Sarah, for hanging tough and not letting

me off the hook as I had a blast! While

only six Members, including Sarah herself,

took us up on the offer to get free portraits

taken, it was such an interesting way to

spend time with Members and meet some of

their families and pets.

I know that many of us are suffering from

Zoom overload, but I am also thankful for

the many efforts made by the AWC to keep

us engaged. I’ve enjoyed Icebreaker Bingo,

Chelsea Wald’s fascinating lecture on toilets,

several Quiz Nights thanks to Suzanne

Dundas and Melissa Rider, and a Virtual

Beer Tasting organized by Sarah and Una

Mulvihill. While I personally haven’t attended,

I’ve been very impressed with the

incredible dishes being cooked during

various Virtual Cooking Classes taught by

Monica Rodoni and Minal Rajan. It’s

great that we have such creative ladies who

can think outside the box to keep activities

flowing even during difficult times.

I still hold out an inkling of hope that things

can return relatively to normal later this

year and thus am unsure if we’ll continue

with themes for the entire next Club year.

However, I can announce that the September

issue will continue with having a theme,

which will be What I Did This Summer. I

hope this open topic will prompt many of

you to write something, even if you’ve

never submitted an article before. Perhaps

it’ll even inspire you to do something out of

the ordinary just to have something to write

about. Happy Summer!


MAY/JUNE 2021 11


by Melissa Rider

2021-2022 Membership Dues

AWC Membership dues for the 2021-2022

Club Year are payable September 1 and will

be effective until August 31, 2022. You will

receive an invoice via email. Please make a

bank transfer before September 30 to avoid a

€ 10 late fee. You can also pay by PIN at the

Clubhouse when we resume regular office

hours. Dues remain the same as last year:

€ 110 for Regular and Associate Members,

€ 90 for Business/Professionals, and € 55

for Military (with valid military ID).


by Jo van Kalveen and Hilde Volle

Update Your Information

It is very important to keep both your email

and mailing addresses accurate, so you receive

your Membership renewal invoice as

well as eNews and Going Dutch in a timely

fashion. You can update your information in

the Wild Apricot App under “My Profile,”

by logging into your account on our website

at www.awcthehague.org and clicking

on “Edit Profile,” or by contacting me

at awcthehague.membership@gmail.com

with any changes.

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The AWC Newcomers have been able to enjoy

various online events during the first half

of 2021, from informative workshops on

food and shopping in the Netherlands to

several virtual Coffee Mornings. Whilst

we hope to meet in person soon, the online

meetups have been a great way for

Newcomers to find out more about our

Club, life in Holland and about each other.

What has been especially interesting and

enlightening is to see how diverse our Club

is in terms of nationalities, occupations,

ages and life experiences. And how easily

Members connect with each other, often

quickly finding a common interest or passion.

Please feel free to email us at

awcthehague.newcomers@gmail.com with

any questions and keep an eye out for the

next Newcomers’ event on the AWC website

and Wild Apricot app.


MAY/JUNE 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.


9:30 a.m.

AWC Clubhouse


Outdoor Pickleball

AWC Pickleball has resumed with play on

the outdoor courts at Laan van Poot sports


complex. Pickleball is the fastest growing

sport in the US and is exploding in popularity

internationally. It combines elements

of tennis, badminton and table tennis. It is

played with a paddle and light ball on a badminton

sized court. All skill levels are welcome

and no previous playing experience is

necessary. Please contact Sarah Partridge

at activities@awcthehague.org for more

information about dropping by for a trial

session. Fee for the trail session is free for

Members and € 10 for nonmembers. (Please

note that nonmembers who participate in a

trial session and then decide they want to

play for the entire season, must first join the



10 – 11:30 a.m.

Laan van Poot 353A, Den Haag

One-of-a-Kind Activities

Guided Walking Tour: Vincent

van Gogh’s Life in The Hague

It’s time to dust off those walking shoes

and join Ada Boer for an historical walk

around The Hague, learning about where

Vincent van Gogh lived and worked during

his time here. Ada, a Dutch native speaker

with excellent English language skills, is an

AWC Member and active volunteer at the

Ooievaart Canal Boat Tours in The Hague.

She often arranges guided walks around the

city and is offering the AWC her guide services

on two different dates. She will tell us

all about van Gogh’s work, his passion for

painting and about his life.

We will meet outside the Binnenhof, next to

the fish stall. The tour will take around two

hours and will end at the Dunne Bierkade

where lunch, at your own expense, can be

enjoyed at a nice restaurant along the water.

Please note that either of these dates

could be cancelled due to changes in coronavirus

restrictions or in case of bad weather.

Monday, May 10


Thursday, May 27

10:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Buitenhof 30, Den Haag

Fourth of July

4th of July Picnic

Come celebrate America’s birthday with an

old-fashioned picnic with OAR ~ Overseas

American Remember. Bring a blanket,

chairs and a picnic or enjoy some hot dogs

€ 10 Members (€ 15 nonmembers)

Minimum 2 / Maximum 6

Cancellation deadline: Monday, May 3

and hamburgers off the grill. There will be

a bouncy castle, games for the kids, Uncle

Sam and baseball. Additionally, there will

be a raffle, a reading of the Declaration of

Independence, the Posting of the Colors

by the US Marines and a message from

the US Embassy. For information, contact

AWC Member Roberta Enschede at

oarinnl@yahoo.com. Check eNews for updates.

Sunday, July 4

2 – 6 p.m.

ABF Clubhouse adjacent to ASH

Ammonslaantje 1, Wassenaar

MAY/JUNE 2021 15

Book Lovers

Book Clubs

The AWC Book Clubs are FREE and open

to all readers. New Members are especially

welcome! There are no requirements

to 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.

Happy reading!

Daytime Book Club

May Selection: Weapons of Math

Destruction by Cathy O'Neil

The winner of the 2019

Welcome to the dark side

of big data! Written by a

data scientist with a PhD in

mathematics from Harvard

University, this book provides

valuable insight into

the world of big data, predictive

analytics and artificial intelligence.

Using real world examples across a range

of industries, readers will learn about the

societal impact of algorithms and how data

can be mis-used and negatively impact


Thursday, May 27

10 a.m.

June Selection: American

Dirt by Jeanine Cummings

The unforgettable story of

a mother and son fleeing a

drug-cartel to cross the US-

Mexico border. Being hailed

as “a Grapes of Wrath for our

times,” this novel is a rare

exploration into the inner hearts of people

willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer

of hope.

Thursday, June 24

10 a.m.


July Selection: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes:

And Other Lessons from

the Crematory by Caitlin


This memoir of a young

woman who not only works

in a crematorium in Los

Angeles, but owns a funeral

parlor, has been described

as “demonically funny.”

Brimming with gallows humor, she marvels

at the gruesome history of undertaking

and relates her unique coming-of-age story

while also revealing how the fear of dying

warps our society.

Thursday, July 22

10 a.m.

August Selection: The Weekend by

Charlotte Wood

Three Australian women in

their seventies reunite for

one last, life-changing weekend

in the beach house of

their deceased friend, who

was the one to maintain the

group’s delicate equilibrium.

This funny and tender novel

explores growing old and growing up, and

what happens when we’re forced to uncover

the lies we tell ourselves.

Thursday, August 26

10 a.m.

Daytime Book Club Reading List:

Thursday, September 23: Three

Women by Lisa Taddeo

Evening Book Club Reading List:

Wednesday, September 8 Shuggie

Bain by Douglas Stuart

Evening Book Club

May Selection: Before the Coffee Gets Cold

by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

This internationally bestselling

novel approaches time

travelling with some unusual

rules, including this final

catch: nothing you do or say

in the past will change the

present. So why bother? The

thought-provoking stories

here are of people who did bother, for their

own reasons, even if all that changed was

their perspective.

Wednesday, May 12

7:30 p.m.

June Selection: It's Not all Downhill from

Here by Terry McMillan

Successful businessowner

Loretha Curry’s life is full.

When an unexpected loss

just before her 68th birthday

turns her world upside down,

she will have to summon all

her resourcefulness and determination

to keep on thriving,

pursue joy, heal old wounds and chart

new paths. Told with wit and wisdom as

well as some sassy dialogue.

Wednesday, June 9

7:30 p.m.

Daytime Book Club Recaps

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Winner of the 2020 National Book Award,

this is a multi-layered exploration of the

tropes of Asian stereotypes as told within

the framework of a Hollywood screenplay.

Although a minor character in the television

police procedural of the script, Willis Wu

is very much the protagonist of the story,

lightheartedly examining the roles people of

Asian descent are expected to play on screen

and in America in general. Yu is a keen observer

of human nature and his wry humor

evokes laughter that fades to a wince with

deeper understanding. Several in our group

liked it so much that they read it multiple

times. Others were not as familiar with the

American/Hollywood prejudices depicted

and couldn’t see the humor, nor the sting

of Wu’s predicament. Our discussion about

how first- and second-generation immigrants

find their place in a new country that

marginalizes non-natives emphasized the

essential truths exposed by Yu about Asian

stereotypes in America. Yu’s lens both exaggerates

the plight of one group of people

with meticulous specificity and simultaneously

hones in on the common realities faced

by many who immigrate. It is a worthy book

to read and discuss. Recommended.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Would you wait for your husband if he were

railroaded into prison for 12 years for a crime

you know he didn’t commit? How about if

you’d only been married for a year and your

husband was just “97%” faithful to you and

had kept the secret that his father was in fact

his stepfather, a man who’d adopted him as

a baby and raised him lovingly as his own?

Would you wait if the upstanding friend you

grew up with, with whom you had a powerful

bond and who’d loved you unrequitedly

for 25 years, wanted to start a new life with

you? This was the situation Celestial found

herself in this novel. The protagonists, Roy

and Celestial, are successful young Black

college graduates who nonetheless could

not escape the profoundly negative impact

the mass incarceration of Black Americans

has on Black culture. Though the title might

suggest otherwise, the novel deals with

more than just Ray and Celestial’s marriage

and delves into their extended families and

personal histories. Jones admirably conveyed

the individuality of their upbringings

and their parents. We felt, however, her

treatments were weak of Andre, Celestial’s

friend, and of Roy’s biological father, whom

Jones conveniently makes Roy’s prison

roommate(!). Drawing us into a slice of

American culture none of us had experienced,

this is a good, if not unflawed, novel.

Two of our group read it twice, placing it

squarely in the “Recommended” category.

MAY/JUNE 2021 17

Plastic and the Pandemic

by Alexandra Vo de Jager, AWG Paris, & Anne van Oorschot

The COVID-19 pandemic is still very

much present in the Netherlands and

in most of the world. It’s easy to see

the negative consequences for individuals,

the healthcare system and economy, but did

you ever link the pandemic and plastic waste?

A member of FAWCO’s Environment Team

from Paris wrote an article illuminating the

explosive effect the pandemic is having on

the amount of plastic waste we generate.

While it’s a dire situation, the US Presidential

Inauguration offered words of hope, so read

on to learn more …

Plastic waste. It’s everywhere, from the

depths of oceans to the peaks of mountains.

Even before COVID-19, the volume of plastic

per day going into the ocean by weight is

equivalent to 90 aircraft carriers. This is the

speed at which we are destroying the ocean.

According to UN Secretary General Antonio

Guterres, by 2050, plastic will have more

weight than fish in the ocean. On mountains

such as Mt. Everest, the paths are littered

with single-use water bottles just like

overflowing trash bins at tourist attractions

around the world.

New Plastic vs Recycled Plastic

The story gets worse. Alongside coronavirus,

we are experiencing a plastic pandemic. It is

a double tsunami of plastic waste: 1) the demand

for the manufacturing of “new” plastic

is up while the use of recycled plastic is

down; and 2) our pandemic lifestyle makes

us more reliant on single-use and often nonrecyclable

plastic. In other words, we are

producing more plastic while recycling less

and thereby increasing plastic waste on our

planet. Furthermore, once plastic is made, it


does not go away, whether it is recycled or

not. Plastic does not decompose but rather,

breaks down to microplastics and permeates

every aspect of our life. These microplastics

can enter our food chain through seafood, for

instance. There is even evidence that microscopic

plastic is in rainfall and our drinking

water as well.

To understand the origins of plastic is to understand

that nearly all plastic starts from

fossil fuels. With the economic slowdown

caused by the pandemic, the demand for oil

has dropped and so too has the price. This

price drop makes the manufacturing of new

or “virgin” plastic cheaper than buying recycled

plastic. For instance, drink bottles made

of recycled plastic, the most commonly recycled

plastic item, have become less viable.

To make them is 83% to 93% more expensive

than new bottle-grade plastic. According

to a yearly brand audit, Coca-Cola, Nestle

and PepsiCo have been the world’s top three

plastic polluters. Although these companies

have made voluntary goals to increase recycled

plastic in their products, they have largely

failed to meet them. “We often pay more

for recycled plastic than we would if we purchased

virgin plastic,” a Nestle spokesperson

said. Since the coronavirus struck, recyclers

worldwide have seen their businesses shrink

by more than 20% in Europe, by 50% in

parts of Asia and as much as 60% for some

firms in the US. The US has become one of

the cheapest places to make virgin plastic, so

more is coming onto the market.

Pandemic Plastic

Simultaneously, the pandemic has increased

our need for single-use plastic that could be

the difference between life and death. Face

masks are made partly from plastic and so

are hospital gowns, intravenous bags and

ventilators. “There are 129 billion facemasks

being made every month—enough that you

could cover the entire country of Switzerland

with facemasks at the end of this year if

trends continue,” says Dave Ford, founder

of the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network.

“And a lot of these masks are ending up in

the water. The masks look like jellyfish—

thus, food—to turtles and other wildlife

creatures.” In addition, our current pandemic

lifestyle makes us even more reliant on

single-use, non-recyclable plastic. Not only

is the demand for face shields and gloves

up, but so is the demand for takeaway food

containers, plastic bags and bubble wrap for

online shopping. “Packaged take-out meals

and home-delivered groceries contributed

an additional 1,400 tons of plastic waste

during Singapore’s 8-week lockdown. The

global plastic packaging market size is projected

to grow from $909.2 billion in 2019

to $1,012.6 billion by 2021, at a compound

annual growth rate of 5.5%, mainly due to

pandemic response.” Since most of these

items cannot be recycled, plastic waste has

surged with a 30% increase in plastic waste

in our oceans.

Countries with poor waste management and

recycling infrastructure will have an even

harder time handling larger volumes of plastic

waste. “Improper disposal of just 1% of

face masks translates to more than 10 million

items, weighing 30,000 to 40,000 kilos.

Waterlogged COVID-19-related plastic has

been observed on beaches and in water, potentially

aggravating the challenge of curtailing

micro plastics.” The plastic going into

the oceans could reach 600 million tons, the

weight of 3 million blue whales.

What is the Solution?

There are, in fact, many solutions that are

multilateral among nations, simultaneously

among consumers, producers and investors,

and all interlinked at the national, state

and individual levels. At the Countdown

Global Launch, A Call to Action on Climate

Change, an online event in October 2020,

Pope Francis urged us to pull investments

out of companies who are not committed

to protecting the environment, “One way

to encourage this change is to lead companies

towards the urgent need to commit to

the integral care of our common home, excluding

from investments companies that do

not meet (these) parameters ... and rewarding

those that (do).” We, the consumers and

manufacturers, need to transition away from

products made of fossil fuels. To do this,

transparency is key. A recent World Wildlife

Fund initiative called ReSource: Plastic had

five large companies—Starbucks, Keurig/

Dr Pepper, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble

and The Coca-Cola Company—go public

with how much plastic waste they manufactured,

whether the plastic is recyclable and

where they believe the plastic is ending up.

By 2030, it is the hoped that the 100 biggest

companies will sign up for this transparency


On a personal level, we can continue to stay

educated on environmental issues so that

we are equipped to talk and advocate in a

way that convinces people, government and

companies and moves public opinion. We can

reduce our waste as well as being thoughtful

about buying locally and sustainably. These

are topics that we will explore in further

detail in future articles. For now, we can visit

the UN site for ideas: www.un.org/en/actnow.

In President Biden’s inaugural speech, he

said, “A cry for survival comes from the

planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more

desperate or any more clear ...Now we must

step up. All of us. It is a time for boldness, for

there is so much to do.” The answer is that

we must meet the challenge together. Youth

Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman echoed this

command, “We seek harm to none and harmony

for all. Let the globe, if nothing else,

say this is true. That even as we grieved, we

grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That

even as we tired, we tried that will forever

be tied together victorious...We will not be

turned around or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation.

Our blunders become their burdens. But

one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with

might and might with right, then love becomes

our legacy and change our children’s


MAY/JUNE 2021 19

AWC and the Arts

by Jane Choy-Thurlow, AWC Member and Mauritshuis Docent

Margraten on Memorial Day and Everyday

by Roberta Enschede

Walking Tour of Pilgrims’ Leiden

The English Separatists we call the Pilgrims

set sail to America from Delfshaven,

near Rotterdam 400 years ago. 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 the Assistant Director 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 possible to allow

the entire group into the museum at once.

Please book a visit online in advance

at https://pilgrim-museum.sollidd.com.

Museum entrance fee is € 6.50; please note

that the museumkaart is not valid.

Wednesday, June 9

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Beschuitsteeg 9, Leiden

€ 10 Members (€15 nonmembers)

Minimum 10 / Maximum 15

Cancellation deadline: June 1


RSVP for all Arts Activities directly

on www.awcthehague.org

Direct any questions to


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.

Check eNews for further information on

when 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 August 29).

Sadly, this year like last, there can be

no public ceremony at Margraten on

Memorial Day. The thousands of people

—grandparents, parents, children, Boy Scouts,

Girl Scouts and veterans—who come year

after year will not be there to put a flower or

a bouquet on the cross of “their soldier” or

a handful of pebbles on a white marble Star

of David.

Yet even though they can’t be there, their

memories and thoughts, like mine, will be

in the rolling land of Limburg where we

“buried out gallant dead.” Perhaps they’ll

tell friends a story about “their soldier,”

the young American hero their Dutch family

adopted. Perhaps they’ll say a prayer or

look at a book of old photos. Maybe they’ll

think about how they felt when they had the

privilege to lay a wreath during a previous

Memorial Day Ceremony. Maybe they’ll remember

when they were Scouts and placed

a Dutch and American flag in front of each


Margraten was the first overseas American

Cemetery I ever visited. It was so quiet on

the day I was there. There were only a few

people walking around and stopping. All

I could think of was that they died so far

away from home. I remember looking over

the vast, endless, peaceful green land. There

were thousands of crosses of white marble

interspersed with Stars of David. Standing

there, I cried a little and asked myself:

• Who were these men, or were they just


• How old were they?

• Who did they leave behind?

• Were they farmers, engineers, doctors

or mechanics?

• Did they leave high school and join up?

• Who remembers them now?

At the time, I didn’t know that every grave

and every name on the Wall of Honor is adopted

by a Dutch family who stay in touch

with the family of “their soldier", if possible.

I know now that there are 8,301 graves along

with 1,722 names engraved on the Walls

of the Court of Honor, the names of men

who were never found. Next to some of the

names, there is a rosette signifying that the

remains of the missing soldier have been recovered

and identified. That effort continues

to this day. Just recently, 76 years later, the

remains of a missing soldier were identified

and will be sent back to the US to be buried

in his hometown.

If ever proof were needed that

we fought for a cause and not

for conquest, it could be found in

these cemeteries. Here was our

only conquest: all we asked of ....

was enough....soil in which to bury

our gallant dead.

~ Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark (1896 – 1984)

The more often you go to Margraten, the

more connected you feel. When I’m there,

I always stop at the grave of Robert van

Klinken. He was a young soldier whose parents

were Dutch immigrants and who died

in the land of their birth. I visit the grave

of Willie James, an African American soldier

who posthumously was awarded the

Congressional Medal of Honor by President

Barack Obama. I walk over to the grave of

Major General Maurice Rose, the highestranking

and most decorated soldier buried in


Before I leave, I find some of the graves of the

Timberwolves from the 104th Infantry. I was

fortunate enough to get to know some of their

comrades who survived the war and returned

to Margraten on Memorial Day for as long

as they were able to travel. My Timberwolf

friends are all gone now―those funny,

feisty, smart, wise, courageous men. I could

always feel how they cared for each other.

>> 26

MAY/JUNE 2021 21

Slate of Officers 2021-2022

We are pleased to introduce the candidates for the 2021-2022 AWC The Hague Board.

The election of Officers took place during the General Meeting on April 8. When we

went to print, the Nominating Committee was continuing to try to fill the remaining

open Board position: Club & Community Development.

President – Barbara Brookman: When I took on the role of

Club President last year, I knew this wouldn’t be an ordinary

year. We had already started to segue into becoming a virtual

Club and closed the Clubhouse. Last spring, the newness of

living in lockdown had a certain drama as we established

new routines, but after relaxation of the rules in the summer,

the inevitable tedium that had been lurking out of view set

in. Suddenly it seemed like we had reached our fill of online

meetings. It was through the hard and enthusiastic work

of our Activities Chairs, Board and Members that we pulled

through and this spring our Club calendar is full of new and

exciting activities and fundraisers. I’m happy to report that a

year into this new world, the Club is going strong!

strangest of my life, from adjusting to not working full-time to homeschooling four children

amid an unexpectedly constrained life under the COVID-19 restrictions. The AWC

has provided an opportunity to befriend many lovely ladies who I would have otherwise

not known, and I am honored to serve as Vice President this year. I am looking forward

to hopefully seeing many of you face to face in the year to come.

Secretary – Marilyn Tinsay: On January 1, 1980, I first

arrived in the Netherlands at the height of winter when

streets were coated with ice and the trees were leafless. No

tulips to be seen anywhere! A day later I was to report to

work as assistant to the manager of a trading company. I

graduated in the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in

humanities, but what proved very useful for me to survive

here was the short secretarial course that I took in 1963.

I have worked for English-speaking companies including

Shell, Arcelor Mittal and several engineering and shipping

companies, as an executive secretary for almost 35 years.

The AWC is my home away from home. It is here that I

found the friendship and fun that I was missing. Our AWC

is made up of women with so much compassion and generosity.

Most of what we do is to make the “other” happy. I

am most thankful for the support that our Club has given to

the foundation I established: SPOSA CHILD. I have seen

how the ladies in the Gala Committee worked to make the events successful. I was so

touched by their loving and compassionate hearts. Now it is time for me to give back by

serving as Secretary to the Board.

I’m excited about the 2021-2022 Slate of Officers. It’s a great

mix of Members who have only known the Club in lockdown and those who have seen

it evolve over decennia. We will need all of that and more as we have some critical tasks

ahead of us this Club Year, including renewing our lease for the Clubhouse, reviewing our

investment portfolio and reaching out to find new Members. I’m confident that we have the

right team to successfully do this.

I returned to The Hague in August 2018 after almost 30 years in the US, mostly in Portland.

While I was born in The Hague and have visited yearly, I still feel like an insider and an outsider

at the same time. Having worked as a business development and sales executive in the

engineering and construction industry for more than 25 years, I have found great pleasure

working on the AWC team and am honored to do so for another year.

Treasurer – Anne van Oorschot-Warwick: I had just

completed my bachelor’s degree in Minnesota when I got

the opportunity to work for a year as a governess in Austria.

There I met Hein, a charming Dutch guy … and before I

knew it, I was living in The Hague. I joined the AWC immediately

after my arrival in 1981. When my three kids

were young, I did not participate in the Club too actively,

and then we moved out of the area. However, when we

moved to Delft in 1999, I became more active, serving on

the Board for four years: FAWCO Rep (2002 – 2004) and

President (2004 – 2006). Those volunteer opportunities

were wonderful and allowed me to really broaden myself! I

fell in love with FAWCO, an organization full of dynamite

women who think they can change their Clubs as well as

the world for the better. My experiences as President gave

me the skillset to start a successful international club in

Tilburg when we moved there in 2006. I again found myself a bit far from the AWC to be

very active, but with the coronavirus restrictions, a switch to virtual occurred and I was

thrilled to be able to participate more actively. Then I was asked to assume the vacant

position of Treasurer. While I am not a “finance person,” the need to fill this position was

real, so I happily accepted. The wonderful thing about a volunteer organization is that if

you are willing to work and learn, you can go “outside of your comfort zone” to learn a

new skill, help the Club and broaden yourself in the process. (I must note my gratitude to

Teresa Insalaco, Assistant Treasurer, and Lori Schnebelie, AWC Bookkeeper, who work

diligently on the AWC Finances and are helping me “grow into” the Treasurer position.) I

Vice President – Wynne Davis: My family and I moved

to Wassenaar in 2019 from Dubai. Previously, I lived in

Alexandria, Virginia for over 15 years, where I met my

husband and our children (Simon, 14, Isaac, 12, Maxwell,

9 and Georgia, 7) were born. For the last 20 years, I have

worked as a transportation program manager for both the

government and private sector. I got my first taste of overseas

living as an army officer stationed in Germany from

1998 – 2003. When my husband asked if I wanted to move

to Holland, I jumped at the chance for our family to experience

the culture and travel opportunities available when

living in Europe. Moving here was also allowed me to shift

gears from being a full-time working parent to more volunteering

opportunities. The past year has been one of the steer the AWC towards continued financial stability.


am humbled by the opportunity to serve the Club as Treasurer and look forward to helping



MAY/JUNE 2021 23

Slate of Officers (cont.)

Continued from page 23

Clubhouse Administrator – Monica Rodoni:

Buongiorno! I am originally from Italy, but have been an

expat all of my life including my childhood, so you could

say I'm a “fake Italian.” I have been lucky enough to have

lived in various countries, from Asia, the Middle East, the

Caribbean to Europe. I have always been part of an international

ladies group as I find it my home away from home

and it can be a great support group. I can even remember

my mother volunteering me for various activities in her

groups when kids where needed, so you can say I have always

been part of something. I studied hotel management

in Switzerland in the oldest school in the world and that

is where I met my husband. After a short stint in the hotel

business, I decided to go into conference and trade fair organizing,

and I continued this for many years and in many

different countries. After becoming a mother and not wanting

to travel as much for work, I went back to my first passion

– food and cooking – and this is where I’ve stayed. I love giving cooking classes.

The pandemic has given me the opportunity to do virtual classes, which I really enjoy.

However, I can’t wait to open up my house and kitchen to in-person classes and to sit down

and have a great meal together, as I am true believer that food brings people together. I look

forward to meeting you all in person at the Clubhouse soon.

Communications – Lesley Gerrese: My husband and I

happily settled in The Hague in June 2020, and we’re thrilled

to be here. We’ve had many international relocations over

the past 30 years with a few more to come, but meanwhile,

each stopping point becomes our home. I’m a former Texas

lawyer, having taught law and trained lawyers in English

writing, and have taught English to children and adults in

several of our postings. We have two sons, born in Paris and

Dubai, who now live in the US. I come from Texas and my

husband, John, is from The Hague. I joined the AWC in Fall

2020, looking forward to getting involved, attending events,

going on tours and making new friends. COVID-19 slowed

that down, of course, but I was impressed by how the Club

continued to offer fun options. Now in 2021, the number of

“virtual” weekly activities has grown exponentially―we’re

unstoppable! It’s very exciting. It is my hope and pleasure

to get involved, and to contribute to AWC communications

and social media platforms. I look forward to spreading the word, both within the Club, so

that all Members are aware of the fun options and feel involved, and to the greater public

so that others may also discover this great welcoming Club.

Club and Community – Open


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


Reflections After Six Months

in the Role of FAWCO


In March, I attended the FAWCO 2021

Virtual Biennial Conference and am happy

to report that I am motivated and more

knowledgeable in my role as our AWC

FAWCO Rep. The conference was refreshingly

full of easy-to-access and interesting

information. Very crucially, I was able to

navigate Hopin, the online platform they

used for the conference, to hear the excellent

speakers and to view the events over

the busy four-day agenda. I am pleased to

be learning more about what this charitable

extension of our Club accomplishes

through working with the many other affiliated

clubs around the world. On another

hand, attending this conference also laid

bare that I still need to learn so much more

about FAWCO and get more involved in

their various and important global issues

and charitable projects before I can claim

even to have scratched the surface of this

fabulous organization.

I learned more about one US issue recently

when a Member contacted me with a

question and I realized that I needed more

information to answer such varied questions

about being an American abroad.

Thankfully I have fellow AWC Member,

Roberta Enschede, and former AWC

Member and current FAWCO US Liaison

Johanna Dishongh to guide me.

As FAWCO Rep, I can help those of you

who are interested in applying for an

Educational Award for you or your kids, or

to help a local charity who needs funding

apply for a Development Grant, or assist

Americans who have voting or tax questions,

as well as be a guide for those of

you who would like to get more involved

in FAWCO’s various global issues or charitable

projects. Stay tuned for more articles

delving into what FAWCO does and how

our Club can contribute to the various projects

and initiatives.

FAWCO’s current Target Project 2020-

2022 is Project S.A.F.E.: Safe Alternatives

to End Female Genital Mutilation in

Tanzania. (See the Jan/Feb and Mar/Apr

2021 issues of Going Dutch for more information

about Project S.A.F.E.)

When the decision was made to postpone

our Club’s traditional big fundraising event

for the Target Project, the much loved and

anticipated Handbag Auction―we are still

hoping to host this in person in September―

it was very clear that as long as we were

still restricted from getting together in-person,

we needed to come up with creative

and fun ways we could fundraise for the

Target Project online. Since “thinking outside

the box” and doing events online is not

my strong suit, I was thrilled to meet fellow

AWC Members Carin Elam and Minal

Rajan and hear some of their unique ideas

to fundraise online. I have now learned a

lot more about computers and fundraising

despite myself!

>> 26

MAY/JUNE 2021 25

FAWCO (cont.)

Continued from page 25

In February,

Carin, Minal

and I organized

our delicious

online fundraiser,


for Donations,

where Members

and people outside

our community


at our dessert

website to choose a delicacy and have it

delivered to their doorstep just in time for

Valentine’s Day. I was thrilled to witness their

creative genius and am grateful they took the

time to make Desserts for Donations a success.

I really enjoyed this project despite my

aversion to it being “online.” I am again reminded

that our Club is a wonderful resource

for finding thoughtful, fun and smart women,

especially during this difficult and sometimes

lonely year. As a result, I learned about a

platform (Wix) to display and sell desserts

(among other items) online. Thanks to all that

volunteered their cooking skills and to all

who purchased a dessert, I am happy to report

that our AWC sent € 550 to the FAWCO

Foundation’s Target Project S.A.F.E.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I attended

the FAWCO 2021 Virtual Biennial

Conference. Our own AWC Member, Emily

van Eerten, is the current FAWCO President

and was reelected to another two-year term.

Congratulations, Emily! She and the other

FAWCO board members planned and managed

the running of this dynamic and informative

virtual event. Over four evenings, we

were able to chat with FAWCO members and

leaders about various global issues (such as

the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals

and US Voting Legislation), fundraising issues,

as well as listen to some fabulous and

educational talks on two important and current

issues. This has been the best and most

informative and interactive virtual conference

ever for me! I will write more updates

in future issues of Going Dutch. In the meantime,

I would love to hear from you if you

have ideas or questions about how our Club

can be more involved with FAWCO.

Margraten on Memorial Day (cont.)

Continued from page 21

Sometimes they acted like teenagers who

had won a ballgame, slapping and laughing.

Sometimes I could feel their sadness and I

knew they were asking themselves:

• Why was I lucky?

• Why is he here and not me?

One fellow, a Jewish jeweler from LA,

would say, “Margraten is my church.”

Another tall lanky gentleman, an architect

from Kansas, would amble over to the

graves of his comrades and come back with

tears filling his eyes. He’d tell his soldier

buddies, “I said hello.”


I would stand to the side and just watch and

listen. They were in a world only another veteran

could understand.

The ancient words of Pericles are carved in

the white marble of Margraten. They are especially

fitting this year when we are only

able to be there in our thoughts and memories:

Each for his own memorial earned praise

that will never die and with it the grandest

of all sepulchres – not that in which his mortal

bones are laid but a home in the minds

of men.

Have you tried the leading sports & movement

programme for children?

We’ve got weekly classes for ages 2-6 in

the below locations:

Mariahoeve Sportscentrum

Tennisclub WW

Tennisclub Thor De Bataaf


MAY/JUNE 2021 27

May 2021

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday


2 3 4

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

10 a.m.


Pickleball 10 a.m.


Wassenaar Coffee and

Convo 9:30 a.m

7 8

Remembrance Day Liberation Day

9 10

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m.

Mother’s Day

Guided Walking Tour:

Vincent van Gogh's Life

in The Hague 10:15 a.m.


Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.

16 17 18

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

10 a.m.


Buddy Check 12

Pickleball 10 a.m.

Evening Book Club

7:30 p.m.

19 20

Pickleball 10 a.m. May General Meeting:

Installation of Officers

10 a.m.

13 14 15

Ascension Day

21 22

23 24 25

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

10 a.m.

30 31

Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m.

26 27

Daytime Book Club

Pickleball 10 a.m. 10 a.m.

Guided Walking Tour:

Vincent van Gogh's Life

in The Hague 10:15 a.m.

28 29

June 2021

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday


Chat, Craft & Cake

10 a.m.


Pickleball 10 a.m.


Wassenaar Coffee and

Convo 9:30 a.m

4 5

6 7 8

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

10 a.m.


Pickleball 10 a.m.

Walking Tour of Pilgrims’

Leiden 11 a.m.


June General Meeting

10 a.m.

11 12

Buddy Check 12

13 14 15

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

10 a.m.

Evening Book Club

7:30 p.m.


Pickleball 10 a.m.

17 18 19

20 21 22

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

10 a.m.


Pickleball 10 a.m.


Daytime Book Club

10 a.m.

25 26

Father’s Day

27 28 29

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

10 a.m.


Pickleball 10 a.m.

Save the Date:

Fall Kick Off


September 9


MAY/JUNE 2021 29

My Five Phases of Lockdown

by Jo van Kalveen

Phase One: March 2020, The Tidal Wave

It is now over one year since Kees, my husband, started working from home because of

COVID-19. Due to having cold symptoms, he was sent home from work a week prior to most

people. After three days of working from the sofa (and getting a sore back), he decamped to

the spare room for what we both thought/hoped would be a few weeks, A month or two at

worse. Never did we think he would still be at home a whole year later …

News of the pandemic reaching Europe, then the Netherlands felt so surreal. With it

came a rising sense of anxiety and fear, unlike anything I’d ever felt. The fact this was all

so unprecedented and no one, including world leaders, really knew what to expect or how

to respond served to underline this fear. It

felt akin to knowing a huge tidal wave was

about to hit us and there was nothing anyone

could do about it.

I went into full on “keep busy” mode and

started to clean the house from top to bottom.

I cleaned nooks and crannies that had not

been cleaned since we moved into the house

five years ago. I even found myself washing

Legos! We stocked up on paracetamol, toilet

paper and wine (obviously) and entered

“hunker down” mode.

Phase Two: Full House, Empty Fridge

Phase two of my lockdown came as the boy’s schools were closed. Our “no drinking in

the week” rule went out of the window after day two of home schooling! As did our strictly

enforced limits on screen time for the boys. Two laptops were ordered within days as it was

clear they were needed for schoolwork and gaming, which is now primarily how teenage

boys keep in contact with their friends.

I set up a WhatsApp group for the

street. It was lovely to see the offers that

appeared of help with shopping or gardening,

etc. People shared DVDs (our Agatha

Christie dramas went down well!) and made

huge batches of soup or banana bread to

share along the street. We celebrated King’s

Day with socially distanced drinks. People

were so happy with the face-to-face interaction

at 1.5 meters distance, of course!

I also set up a WhatsApp group of local

friends; we called ourselves the Desperate

Coronawives. It proved a great way to support

and feel supported throughout the rest

of the year. We shared highs, lows, pandemic

memes that made us laugh, recipes, online shopping tips and the odd evil thought

about our spouses when it all just got too much.

I quickly got used to doing things virtually. Having mastered Zoom and Google Meet,

I enjoyed the AWC Book Clubs, quizzes and virtual drinks. To be honest, they were often

a much-needed reason to wash my hair and put on some makeup.

Having run out of cleaning and de-cluttering, I came up with other lockdown projects.

One of the most productive proved to be going through every single cookbook I

owned and listing all the recipes I’d never got around to making. There were a lot, so

the list evolved into a computer database and every week we try to make two or three

new recipes. Influenced by The Home Edit TV show, I even rearranged my cookbooks

by color, which bought me more joy than it should have! #thingslockdownmademedo

Phase Three: Out of Hibernation

June 2020 saw us crawl out of hibernation. I joined the stampede to the hairdressers.

AWC Book Cub met in person at the Clubhouse and the Desperate Coronawives met for a

picnic. It felt wonderful to see people face to face. I really missed hugging people though!

>> 32

We quickly found our new rhythm. Meltdowns were thankfully limited―though I will

confess to having one triggered after I tripped over yet another pair of shoes left in the middle

of the kitchen. Kees helpfully pointed out my reaction “was not just about the shoes.” I

may have ugly cried for a good five minutes, but it did me a world of good. As did buying

a basket for the shoes!

I carried on cleaning and when I had run out of things to clean, I moved onto decluttering.

No drawer or cupboard was safe! I was ruthless and soon had boxes and boxes waiting

to go to the Kringloop. It turns out so did 95% of other Dutch households!

Having a house full of van Kalveen men 24/7 took a little getting used to. For one thing,

the fridge was constantly being emptied. Two teenage boys are ALWAYS hungry. They eat

a lot. Especially when bored. I’d plan a menu for the week and go to the supermarket early

in the morning. I felt a bit like a character from The Hunger Games going into battle and

always felt slightly euphoric at making it home, surviving yet another trip outside of my

safe space (i.e., the house!)


MAY/JUNE 2021 31

Five Phases of Lockdown (cont.)

Continued from page 31

Kees finally accepted he wouldn’t be back

in the office anytime soon and so we gave the

spare bedroom an office makeover. We are

lucky that he has a dedicated space at home

from which to work and I soon got used to

not strolling in to find myself in the middle

of a Zoom call with his boss and hearing him

pound his poor keyboard (he is a very loud

typist). I’ve been in awe with how well he has

coped with working from home. His days are

long and demanding. It’s obvious how much

he misses the social interaction that comes

from being in an office; he tries to meet colleagues

for walks every week, but it’s obviously

not the same.

Much to my sister’s horror, I went to IKEA and sent her a selfie from the queue. The UK

was still under full lockdown at the time. She asked what was “essential’ about my being

there. I replied with a breezy “we were out of meatballs, so it was essential.” Trips that I’d

previously taken for granted now became a source of genuine pleasure and yes that included

a trip to IKEA!

Phase Four: Back to (a New) “Normal”

Summer 2020 saw the return to more “normality.” The boys went on sailing and Scout

summer camps. It took 15 years and a pandemic to get me to do it, but I had a week’s holiday

in the Netherlands―in Friesland, which I loved. We were also able to escape to the south

of France for a week for which we were incredibly grateful. We rented a house with a pool

and ventured out and about less than we would normally, but it did us all a world of good.

Unfortunately, as we all know, the new freedoms we had been given were not to last. In

August, just as I was about to go to the UK to visit my family, the UK put the Netherlands

on the “red list.” The coronavirus R number (reproduction rate) was rising and there was a

real sense of deja vu at what was around the corner.

Phase Five: Bore-down

The end of 2020 saw us back in lockdown or “bore-down” as I’ve taken to calling

it. Sinterklaas, Christmas and New Year’s Eve came and went without any big fuss. I’ve

had to dig deep to keep busy this time around. I finally put our honeymoon photos into an

album, 16 years after taking them! I went back to learning Dutch. I watched five seasons of

Downton Abbey. I even wrote two articles for Going Dutch.

So, despite the odd shoe related meltdown and the upset at not being able to see my

UK-based family, we made it through a year of living during a pandemic. What are my

takeaways from 2020?

• A Netflix subscription is worth every euro. It’s been so good to immerse myself in

series such as The Queen’s Gambit, Bridgerton, Call My Agent, The Home Edit and

I will admit to watching and loving Selling Sunset. Pure escapism which helped my

brain to switch off for a few hours!


• I actually quite like my family and hanging out with them, but am also glad we

all have our own space in the house to retreat to at times. And I think we have all

had enough family walks to last for the couple of years. Similarly, I never want to

see another jigsaw puzzle again!

• I’m a very social person, but also love being home. I’ve proved how content I am

pottering around the house or garden. The enforced slowdown has, in some ways,

been good for me.

• I’m so proud of how resilient the boys have been. We are lucky they are of a selfsufficient

age. I’m not sure I would be this sanguine had they been younger and needed

more help with schoolwork or with filling their days. I’m sad they have missed out

on so much school and social time, but they have adapted to the situation brilliantly.

• I will never take for granted the ease at which I can pop back to the UK to see my

family. Like many of us, it’s been over one year since I last saw my parents. During

that year, my lovely Mum was diagnosed with cancer, underwent major surgery and

coped with a grueling course of chemotherapy. Having to cancel various trips and

not being able to visit her has been incredibly difficult and added an extra dimension

to what was an already difficult situation.

• Everyone copes in different ways and has different levels of tolerance and anxiety. And

these can change week on week or day to day.

And finally, perhaps my biggest takeaway of 2020:

• Do not underestimate the joy color coding your recipe books can bring. Trust me

on this.

Submissions Needed

After a year of lots of diverse and fascinating articles focusing on reflections of the

pandemic, the AWC and life in the Netherlands, it’s time to try something a little

different. The theme for our next issue, which will be published in September, will

be What I Did This Summer. While many of us may be dreaming of vacationing

in exotic locations, there’s still a chance that we’ll be taking trips within the

Dutch borders instead. Whether you travel near or far or just around your local

neighborhood while on a staycation,

please share the highlights

with us. This issue will not be limited

to travel articles, so feel free

to get creative. Perhaps knowing

that you’ll be sharing your adventures

might even inspire you to

do something out of the ordinary

just to have something to write

about. 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


by Monday, July 26.

MAY/JUNE 2021 33

Let’s Play

by Suzanne Dundas

An Unscientific Examination of Board Game Playing as a Personal

Coping Mechanism during the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020/21

The texts come in everyday after lunch: “3,” “3:30” or “4:30.” We reply with the thumbs

up emoji or an occasional “Later, 5.” At the designated time, my husband, Paul, and I meet

in the computer room, log into www.woogles.io and place a WhatsApp call to our daughter,

Arielle, in New York City. We then play a game of Scrabble. It’s Arielle (Reallie is her woogles

handle) and Paul (Generaal) against me (Winkle). We keep an open WhatsApp line—audio,

no visual—on my antique iPhone propped up against the computer. Chatting, cheating and

kibitzing while we play, we’ve done this—for free—every day for a year. It takes a half hour

and it makes our day. It also structures what can be long formless pandemic days. After our

game, Arielle goes to work at noon her time, or, if it’s a weekend, goes for a run in Central

Park, and I start preparing dinner. Again.

There’s a unique way of relating to others when you are playing a board game (and, yes,

board games can be played on a computer) or cards. It’s playful trash talk with a competitive

edge. Cheeky. Light. Fun. There’s also a certain freedom and lack of pressure in relating to

others without face-to-face contact. Parents know a child or teenager in a car often opens

up about subjects they’d never discuss over a dinner table. Paul, Arielle, and I just listen

to each other while we play because the online board captures all our visual attention. Plus,

seeing myself on screen distracts me. “Is that really my face? Is there another anagram for

WRINKLES besides WINKLERS?” Our family has shared pleasant and occasionally meaningful

conversations while we play. Our Scrabble games keep us emotionally connected.

Other games also provide structure to our pandemic days. Paul, who retired last September,

and I start each day with a game of Blokus or Patchwork (and, yes, occasionally Scrabble)

before breakfast. We drink our coffee and wake up our brains. Then the day begins. We

also play a game each evening after dinner, before dessert and Netflix. Neither Blokus nor

Patchwork involve any word play and Paul is better at them than I am. I know this because

we keep obsessively detailed records of scores and wins and losses. You’d be right in guessing

I don’t like to lose, but eating humble pie is both calorie-free and character building.

The AWC has provided me with another happy outlet for my pandemic gaming lust.

Virtual quizzes! I used to host pub quizzes in the AWC Clubhouse, but we moved virtually

to Google Meet with good results. The teams include family members, which adds a whole

new playful social dimension. I love to play as much as I love to host, and Deana Kreitler

and Melissa Rider have also hosted with stellar results. The quizzes are almost monthly.

Check the AWC calendar or the Wild Apricot app to register.

Doing jigsaw puzzles is also an extremely popular pandemic hobby if the Facebook posts

of my friends are any indication. One couple has cute puzzle-piece-shaped trays for sorting

pieces and a sticky mat they can roll their puzzles up in to clear a table as needed. Completing

a puzzle is such a source of pride that sometimes people frame them. Though we enjoy doing

puzzles over a chat and a cuppa, we haven’t embraced puzzles for this pandemic. The next

pandemic can be our puzzle pandemic.

I also play games by myself. There are games that are really Scrabble study aids at www.

aerolith.org and I love to play faux Boggle at wordtwist.puzzlebaron.com. Wordtwist uses the


worldwide Scrabble dictionary, so I’ve convinced

myself those games are really study

aids too. I even pay to play games via www.

lumosity.com, which bills itself as a brain

training program even though its evidence

is weak at best. I’m hooked on Lumosity’s

Word Bubbles with its darling underwater

sound effects and cute graphics. Lumosity

also offers math, rhythm and logic puzzles.

In truth, I used the solitary online games to

distract me and calm me down after reading

the news of the last four-and-a-half years. I

still play these games even though the news

no longer disorients and terrifies me.

As much as I enjoy playing games with my family and by myself, I’ve traveled to many

different countries in the last 37 years to play tournament Scrabble within a tight international

community of like-minded fanatics. For 14 years, Paul and I played in our local club at the

delightful Café Venstra in Amstelveen every Sunday afternoon. The pandemic destroyed

such in-person events. Fortunately, we continue playing Scrabble against each other online.

We play friendly games, chatting in type, and we also play in online tournaments. I can play

in a tournament every day if I so choose. I don’t. Five, seven, or ten games of Scrabble in a

row is exhausting and brutal on my back. I play in about one tournament per week. As if the

pandemic weren’t harmful enough, our world has been ripped apart by a unilateral decision

of the makers of Scrabble to ban 270 words they deem offensive. This issue is complex and

fraught and has set our chatrooms ablaze. I’ll leave it at that.

It would be too much to hope the pandemic

is all fun and games. There are restrictions.

Paul and I can’t play board games with

other people. That would involve breathing

at a table in close quarters. I used to play

a Dutch board game called Het Groot Van

Dale Spel, a sort of Dutch Trivial Pursuit,

with my infinitely patient Dutch teacher. The

game was so much more fun than any other

Dutch lessons, but we did breathe when we

played. Now my teacher and I sit far apart

in her dining room and converse in Dutch.

It’s pijnlijk for both of us and almost as

exhausting for me as ten games of Scrabble.

The pandemic has been tough on everyone.

Playing games has helped me cope,

providing a semblance of my particular

brand of normality. Truth be told, I hope

any ideas you’ve gleaned from my story

are now out of date. Dare we hope vaccines

and social cooperation have rendered all this

game playing obsolete? Or, if not obsolete,

more social? I hope so and I hereby cordially

invite you to come over and breathe while

we play Blokus.

MAY/JUNE 2021 35

My Experience with COVID-19

by Hanny Gale

When COVID-19 hit, I was in Italy, which was the first country to suffer. The feeling

was surreal: this could not be happening. Seeing military convoys carrying

away bodies en masse and learning that 45,000 people died in a span of three

months was shocking, depressing and devastating. Who would have thought we would be

living in quarantine and having curfews? That is something I thought could only happen

in under-developed countries where terrible illnesses exist.

The year 2020 was a real eye-opener. It taught us compassion and to live our lives in

a different way. After the initial shock, I reevaluated the situation. I could feel sorry for

myself and get depressed or reinvent the wheel. I took this time to write my memoirs for

my children, continue to work on my family tree and digitize my pictures. I am so busy

that it feels like I am again working a full-time job. My poor husband, who does not like

to cook, found himself making lunch and dinner because I was too busy.

It is important to try to stay in touch with family, friends and neighbors. The first

round of this pandemic was not making that easy. No one knew what we were dealing

with. Roads, hospitals and buildings were being sterilized. We had to leave our shoes

outside for fear of picking up the virus and carrying it inside the house; it was a good

thing we lived in a nice neighborhood otherwise it could have cost us a lot of shoes. We

were told to wash our hands at least three minutes under running water. To track those

three minutes, we were advised to sing Happy Birthday. We sang daily Happy Birthdays

even though no one was having one. How funny is that? I think the sterilizing gel manufacturing

companies and dermatologists made good profits; one disinfecting the hands,

the other treating the dry skin.

Our neighbors felt isolated with the whole situation, so we organized a lunch. Unlike in

Holland, we were not allowed to receive any visitors. Not even one person! We placed our

garden tables near our fences

on our driveways (our house is

the yellow one shown here) at

a safe distance of at least five

meters (we were so scared of

this unknown virus) and set

it up just like we would normally

do when inviting someone

to lunch with all the bells

and whistles. We shared our

dishes by handing them over

the fences in a safe manner.

The lunch was a success!

Since Italians speak loudly,

the distance was no issue with

maintaining a conversation.

We continued our neighborly

social life through our fences.

It kept our spirits high and

helped remove the loneliness.


We could only go out to see the doctor or buy groceries. Visits to the doctor were interesting.

Under normal circumstances, one shows up during consultation hours without

an appointment. Now we could only see him by appointment. That was a positive result

of the pandemic, because waits before could be take up to three hours. If the condition

wasn’t serious as discussed over the phone and only a prescription was needed, the patient

would knock on the doctor’s window from the sidewalk, and he would speak through the

window. No one was allowed in the office unless an examination was required. During that

time, most people quickly forgot about their little boo-boos for fear of catching something

in the waiting room. Streets that were normally busy with traffic were eerily still. No cars,

no planes. We could actually hear the birds chirping again. It reminded me a bit of the

silence we experienced in the '70s when Sundays were car-free days.

Food shopping was another experience. Only 10 people at one time were allowed in

the big supermarket; entry was done by calling numbers. A guard distributed gloves to

the customers. I carried a bottle of Clorox spray to disinfect the handles of the shopping

carts. Under normal circumstances, everyone has to wear gloves in the vegetable department.

They do not allow you to touch the vegetables barehanded and will reprimand you

if you do so. Now we were wearing double gloves, not to mention the masks, which were

also mandatory. In the past, if someone were to go into a store wearing a mask, the police

would be called for fear of a robbery; now, if someone were to go into the store without a

mask, the police are called. Times surely have changed.

When going to the doctor or supermarket, one had to carry an identifying letter explaining

the reason for being outside. This letter was issued by the government and had to be

completed by each individual needing to go outside of the home. This could be requested

anytime by the police. The lack thereof would result in a hefty fine.

Due to the closure of many business, entrepreneurs were suffering and hunger started

to set in for many families. Supermarkets started a food drive to which even the less fortunate

participated to help people further down the line. During this difficult period, a lot

of goodness came from different corners. People cared.

Yes, the lack of a hug and of seeing your loved ones in person was difficult, but I am

very grateful for those virtual moments. My children, family and friends live in different

countries and continents. Therefore, I embrace every opportunity whether by phone,

video or mail. Taking an example from the AWC virtual quizzes, I organized one with my

children. We also had a virtual Christmas dinner together. We were all happy.

When I first returned to Holland in November 2020, I continued wearing my mask

even though at the time people here felt no need for it. They did not believe in it. I even

heard a DJ saying how ridiculous he thought it was to wear a mask. All I could think of

was how irresponsible it was to place such a comment on a public radio. I had seen too

much suffering. Obviously in Holland they had not. And again, when something happens

elsewhere, it never has a great impact at home.

My first Sunday in church, I was told by the lady at the door that I did not need to

wear a mask inside. An old man (he must have been in his late 80s) shuffled past the pew

I was sitting in and made fun of me for wearing my mask. I could not believe it. I just kept

thinking, “what is wrong with those people?”

Now things have changed, and people understand the gravity of this pandemic. Will

we come out of this wiser? I can only hope we will be kinder and more tolerant towards

one another and not take everything for granted.

MAY/JUNE 2021 37

Things I Learned…

by Dena Haggerty

… from being self-quarantined for a year:

Yes, you read that right―one whole year. Three hundred and sixty-five days of being

almost continually at home. I can only hope that by the time you read this, Minister of

Health de Jonge will have finally fulfilled his promise to get the vaccine roll-out running

at a tempo faster than a turtle laying in the sun on the beach.

This article isn’t supposed to be about my dismay at the Dutch government’s vaccine

policy. I’m supposed to be writing a positive article about the things I learned this year.

Alrighty then. Here are three things I learned this year, two of which I kind of already knew

but were reinforced by the pandemic so they still count.

I learned: I am an introvert. I know anyone who has ever met me in person will not

believe this statement. Well, guess what: I’m right and you’re wrong. The first “intelligent

lockdown” did not phase me one bit (except the all-consuming fear of dying, of course).

The whole stay at home and no social life thing? That, I had no problem with at all. Thus,


I learned: A pandemic requires flexibility. This is especially true with regard to marketing.

The ups and downs of marketing my work this past year has been crazy. I do love

a good rollercoaster, but I’m ready to get off this one now.

I learned: I can write a lot. Like, seriously, tons and tons. I started my writing career

by finishing two to three books per year. I finished―hold on, let me count―nine books

last year. I plan to write ten this year. Sounds crazy, right? I’m currently 20,000 words into

my third book of the year.

I could add to this list and talk about how

I learned to make cheese beignets and nacho

balls as well, but I don’t think learning new

recipes so I can enjoy an all-you-can-eat

buffet every Saturday to stop myself from

going crazy during a pandemic is all that


I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to

adjust to the world when this whole stupid

virus crisis is over. I fear I’m going to end up

with contamination phobia as I find myself

washing my hands at random times of the

day despite not having gone anywhere. I also

worry my social anxiety will explode after a

year of being in hibernation. I am, however,

so ready to tackle my social anxiety if it

means I can enjoy Thirsty Thursday with

my favorite AWC gals.


Surviving Lockdown

by Eileen Harloff

The first lockdown to control the spread

of the coronavirus began for me as an

opportunity to get started on all those

tasks I had put off for weeks, months and

even years. I made lists in my head, but never

got around to putting them on paper. I would

do that “tomorrow,” which still has yet to

come. The weather was good, but might not

be so tomorrow, so it would be good to get in

supplies for the coming days. I would walk

over to my local shopping center consisting

of poultry, meat and chocolate shops and a

hairdresser. My favorite shop is the Evergreen Supermarket, a big name for a small shop

that nonetheless sells everything: all the usual foods, milk and bread products, kitchen items,

wrapping and writing papers, and toiletries. The manager of this store is Asif, a devout Muslim

from Pakistan whom I have known for several years. He clears a place for me to sit on the

wide windowsill next to the till. He always offers me a cup of coffee, which I politely refuse

as I am not a big coffee drinker to begin with and doubly not a fan of the strong coffee that

is served in tiny cups in the part of world he comes from. We discuss world and local news,

politics, sometimes a bit of religion, and local people and events.

I have had the pleasure of meeting up in this store with people that I have known but

not seen for years, people from the American Church or the AWC. I chat with them as they

pay for their purchases, and there was always a healthy exchange of views prior to the US

election. Asif always greets me with a loud hello, and sometimes announces to other clients,

“This is Eileen. She comes from Buffalo.” English is the main language here, although Asif

does understand more Dutch than he lets on. Actually, I am from Batavia, New York, which

also is a surprise to people from the former Dutch East Indies.

I sit for a short time, exchanging greetings with customers, shaking my head when they

ask for cigarettes which are kept under the counter behind a cloth covering (I’m an ex-smoker

and mighty glad to be so). I have to get home to draw up my list of things to do, so off I go,

trailing my little shopping cart behind me, emblazoned with the words “I Love to Shop.”

This is not really true. It was the least expensive cart in the shop where I bought it.

And now, many months later, I have had my two inoculations, fortunately with little

discomfort, and am waiting for my friends to “get the prick,” so we can at last go out to

lunch together.

One-of-a-Kind Activities

With lockdown restrictions changing constantly, it is difficult to plan One-of-a-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.

MAY/JUNE 2021 39

Are You Happy?

by Celeste Brown

2020 Wasn’t All Bad

by Melissa Rider

Many years ago, my father would

occasionally ask me, “Celeste, are

you happy?” I always replied, “Yes,

Dad, I’m happy” even though I assumed his

question had more to do with his own life

musings than mine.

This morning I read an article in The

Economist entitled “The Pandemic has

Changed the Shape of Global Happiness.”

Who would have guessed that despite the

pandemic, people around the world are happier

than they were one year ago? I must admit

that I am happy. Yes, I am often frustrated

by the pandemic-related restrictions (social

contact, stores, restaurants, vaccinations),

but overall, I’m content. Seems a strange

confession, but if I’m honest, it’s true.

I am writing this on World Happiness Day

2021, which brings memories of my father’s

recurring question into 20/20 focus. So many

things can affect a person’s happiness level,

many within our control and some definitely

outside (hellooo, COVID-19). Sometimes

our life balance is wobbly or badly out of

whack. And that’s okay. It happens. Yet for

me, it’s my responsibility to find a balance

with whatever circumstances I find myself

in to claim my happiness.

So in spring 2021, I have a clear answer for my father. “Yes, Dad, I’m okay. There have

been some rough patches, but I’m happy.”

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!

After the initial shock wore off that

there’d be no vacation travel for 2020,

I was then just desperate to know

when I could return to the US to visit family.

After much anxiety over whether to travel, I

finally made up my mind to spend the month

of October in the US. After researching the

risks of air travel, I found that travelers were

the most susceptible in contracting the virus

while getting to and from the airport and not

while actually at the airport or on the plane. I,

therefore, imposed upon my two sons for my

ground transportation to and from the airport

in New Jersey to my house in Pennsylvania

where I would quarantine for two weeks. I

wanted a direct flight and only certain airports

were open to international travelers, so it really

was an imposition considering they both

live in Virginia. My son, Ian, and his wife,

Courtney, volunteered for airport pick-up duty.

It was a seven-hour drive from their house in Roanoke, Virginia to the Newark Airport. They

stayed overnight at her parents’ house in northern Virginia, so it was just a short 3.5-hour drive

from there to the airport the next day and another 1.5-hour drive to my house in Pennsylvania.

However, it was the BEST airport pickup

ever despite all of the worry and the crazy

circumstances. Ian popped out of the car

to get my bag when I exited the terminal

and immediately asked, “Do you like my

t-shirt?” Strange question, but I said. “Yes,

it’s nice,” wondering if I could give him a

hug or not. Courtney was next out of the

car and Ian asked, “Do you like Courtney’s

t-shirt?” After I answered, “Yes, it’s cute,”

Ian said, “Mom, you didn’t read the t-shirts,

did you?” He caught me, “Oops, no, give me

a minute.” Then I just started bawling my

eyes out in the middle of Newark Airport

car traffic because I had just been informed

via words on shirts that I was going to be a

Grandma and I still did not know if I could

hug anyone! Needless to say, hugs were

given all around and everyone was crying

tears of happiness. By the time you read this

article, baby girl, Cecelia Holland Rider,

will have arrived and received a big hug

from her Oma in April.

MAY/JUNE 2021 41

Pandemic Pandora

by Mary Adams

good. I have eaten out/in more in the last year than ever to support local restaurants. And yet

… I haven’t had the vaccine or any indication of when I will. When I get it, will that make

me safe? Will that be the lid on Pandora’s box? I just don’t know. But that’s life, right? Just

imagine the stories we will tell.

Anna del Priore, Angelina Friedman and Lucia DeClerck are survivors of two pandemics:

the 1918 Spanish Flu and COVID-19 in 2020. These American women have experienced

both World Wars, 20 presidencies, prohibition, the Depression and …. well,

you get the idea. The one thing they have in common is 100 years to reflect on the Spanish

Flu pandemic. What they might say is that eventually, the world went on. Times changed:

life before, during and after a pandemic. My reflection on COVID-19 comes from half the

lifespan of these centenarians.

The pandemic era is a new type of Pandora’s box. Once opened, this box released a

pestilence across the entire world, not only in disease, but in its ability to instantaneously

crystallize change. On the dark side, it has caused millions of deaths, left thousands impaired

and isolated families, friends and colleagues. It has stopped the world economy and education.

It has exposed how medical and pharmaceutical systems can fail. It has unveiled the

evil in our hearts against each other, animals and nature. But wait, is all the world in chaos

and decline? Well…. maybe yes, but that is due to existing wars, crime and environmental

abuse that was already in motion and continues whether or not Pandora is present.

A crisis always brings innovation. We have seen tremendous strides in medicine with

the fast-track development of vaccines. Education systems have developed new learning

methods. Technology is bringing people together in ways that we never imagined possible.

We see a slow rise in the economy. We have felt fraternity with the rest of the world that

is suffering the same pandemic. Has Pandora taken the box and shaken it so hard that the

darkness can also produce light?

Everyone has experienced a different and totally personal Pandora effect. For some she

has wreaked solitude, violence, death and financial demise. For others she has induced a

light coma with all activities boiled down into a single room, life, teardrop. For some she

has brought the frenetic energy of a world askew where each action equals a sanity in small

solutions. For me, Pandora opened my eyes to a new era that I never imagined in my lifetime.

As a child, I was vaccinated against smallpox, measles and polio. Science fiction meant

reading Isaac Asimov or watching Lost in Space on TV. I wasn’t particularly interested in

politics. The environmental campaign “Don’t Mess with Texas” simply meant don’t be a litterbug.

In my 20s, the pandemic baselines such as AIDS, Ebola, and SARS seemed very far

away from my life. My age rolled up and the digital age rolled in. Who knew that Pandora

was lurking in the shadows?

Now I see the unruliness of a life that you cannot control. The information age suddenly

spilling more information about COVID-19 than one can take in: death tolls, infection rates,

variants, masks on, masks off, vaccines. The unbelievable was happening right in front of

our eyes with lockdowns and travel restrictions. This is not life how we knew it. We knew

how to operate in the before. We now understand the during, but don’t yet understand the

after. We need more time to become survivors like Anna, Angelina and Lucia.

My personal reflections are slowly forming. Most are good. I attended more meetings

than before because they were virtual. I saved a lot of travel expenses. I learned how to lean

in online. I realized that I am a total by-the-rules personality because I believe in the greater


Hoping for Normal

by Alex Moore

“See you in a few weeks!”

It’s what we all told each other when we left for the day, on the same day we

first received news about working from home due to the coronavirus. At the time, we were

told that we would be working from home until March 23, and that we would hear more

updates as it got closer to that date. At that time, we had the option to come into the office if

we wanted to. Barely anyone did, even the

colleagues who live in Amsterdam.

It felt like the last day of school before

summer vacation because we had no idea

that we’d still be working from home one

year later. Even when we received further

updates extending the date for which we’d be

working from home, I didn’t think we’d be

working from home indefinitely. When things

began to open up, it seemed promising that

soon things could possibly be back to normal.

My coworkers and I had a reunion in late July when we met at a place near Amsterdam

Centraal for drinks and gezelligheid. We never ran out of things to discuss, but our main topics

seemed to be all of the series and movies

we’d watched in quarantine. Especially Tiger

King. We had another reunion a few weeks

later, and we didn’t know then that it would

be the last one for a while.

I think many people were hoping that

things would be different one year later.

It’s hard to judge what’s going to happen

a year from now, but one can always hope

that things will be different. That life will be

about as normal as it can be. I’m certainly

hoping for normal, as I work from home on

a corner of our dining room table. I’m hoping

for it as I scroll through Netflix trying to

find something to watch, look for a yin yoga

routine on YouTube, or rewatch Love is Blind

just to make fun of the contestants.

MAY/JUNE 2021 43

Lockdown Lover

by Veronica White


wish I were going home under better circumstances,” my diary entry on March 15,

2020 (my first in months) began. “I’m heading home where I can socially isolate

with my family (and Brett—guess I need to introduce him, too).”

Brett and I met at an Expedition Society social on the third day of Fresher’s Week at the

University of Exeter and went on our first date four days later. Brett, who is also American,

is working on his PhD in Climate Physics and I had just started my master’s degree in Food

Security and Sustainable Agriculture. While on our first date, he invited me back to his place

to watch David Attenborough (I couldn’t say no to that!) and afterwards we began seeing each

other regularly. Being recently single, I told him that I didn’t want to be in a relationship,

yet fast forward two months, and Brett had already met my mum and sister. We decided we

were officially a couple.

Brett met my dad at the beginning of March on a crazy four-night trip to Paris. As I

returned to Exeter, Brett continued his trip in France, traveling south to meet some academics

at different universities (and get some sun!). As countries across Europe started locking

down, my mom told me, “it’s better to be scared here at home than alone in Exeter,” so I

started making plans to return to the Netherlands. She also suggested I invite Brett to join

us, and I was relieved when he agreed. I couldn’t stand the thought of him having to endure

lockdown alone in his fairly awful student house. The very next evening, my parents greeted

him at Schiphol as I boarded the overnight ferry to come home.

And that’s how, after knowing each other for just six months, and officially dating for

only four, my boyfriend and I moved into the guest bedroom of my family’s home in Holland.

Regular readers of Going Dutch likely already know about the White House Commune: it

was our little slice of happiness amidst the craziness.

The pandemic threw us all together under one roof, and while the world around me felt

like it was falling apart, Brett and I grew closer. We went on cycling trips to the tulip fields

and dunes, ate lunch on the “promenade deck” together in the sun and worked from a picnic

blanket in the front yard. Brett accompanied

me on outings to take self-portraits and we

developed a love for film photography. We

cooked meals together for the family and

curled up on the couch to watch movies with

my parents. Brett became an honorary member

of the White family and I felt relieved that

even after spending days and days together,

we weren’t getting bored or annoyed with

one another.

just a month before we said, “I love you.” After thinking our relationship would only last a

year, we were suddenly talking about a future where we would try to stay together!

On May 26, I carried out the biggest trust test for our relationship: cutting his hair. I’m

proud to say it wasn’t a total disaster, and I have been his sole barber since and he mine.

Luckily, we both have curly hair, so you can’t see where it hasn’t been cut straight.

On our 100th day in Holland, we cycled 28 miles (45 kilometers) from Voorschoten to

Amsterdam, where we spent 2 days exploring the city. We visited museums and wandered

along the canals, grateful to see the city without the normal crush of tourists. I knew Brett was

a good match for me when he agreed to get up at 5 a.m. to take portraits at the Rijksmuseum,

which was completely deserted as the sun rose. That evening, we cycled back home through

the dunes, a ride which ended up being our longest to date at 45 miles (72 kilometers).

The first time I saw him looking for flats in Exeter for the autumn, I cried, thinking our

time together was about to come to an abrupt end. Little did I know then, the pandemic had

other plans for us. As my hopes for a gap year traveling abroad diminished, I made the decision

to stay in Exeter. On August 1―139 days after moving in with my family―Brett and

I boarded the ferry back to the UK. Less than a month later, we had signed the lease for our

dream flat in Exeter’s city center and had moved in together “officially.”

The next six months were a rollercoaster of emotions. Finishing my degree and being

thrown into the world of job hunting, all while under the threat of a looming visa deadline,

made for some very stressful days. At the same time, I was living in a beautiful flat and

spending my days with the boy I love. We went on amazing adventures: wild camping on

Dartmoor and hiking for days along the South West Coast Path. Together, we found peace

in the pandemic.

With my UK student visa expiring at the end of March, I was forced to leave both Exeter

and Brett’s side. After being together since the beginning of the pandemic, it broke my heart

a little to be separated right when things started to open back up again. We’ve been apart for

over a month now, but have stayed close with daily calls, backgammon games and watching

shows together on Disney Plus. We have no idea when we’ll see each other in person

again―a fate countless couples have faced since the pandemic started. I know how lucky I

am to have been able to spend so much time together with Brett over the last year and I am

so grateful to have had him there to support me through everything this year has thrown at

us. No matter what comes next, Brett will always be my lockdown lover.

We spent every night together, comforting

each other when life outside of our little

bubble looked dark. We felt relieved to be

safe and lucky to be together during such crazy

times. I guess you could say things moved

fast … we were together in Voorschoten for


MAY/JUNE 2021 45

Buying Time

by Melissa White

Our eldest daughter, Veronica, was eight when we moved to the Netherlands in 2005. She

lived here with us for ten years, graduating from the British School of the Netherlands.

When she moved to the UK in September 2015 to start university, she still had Dutch

residency under my husband’s job at NATO. While in Norwich studying for her bachelor’s

degree in Environmental Science, he left his job and we went “local.” Since she was over 18

and not physically living with us at the time, she wasn’t eligible to remain a Dutch resident.

She went on to live in London for one year for her “year in industry” while working in the

sustainability department at GlaxoSmithKline, and for another year in Exeter while completing

her master’s degree in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, after which her UK

student visa allowed an additional six-month stay to search for a job. With her visa deadline

of March 21 looming, she scrambled to find a job that would be willing to sponsor her for

a work visa. Alas, she could only find a temporary research assistant position that gave her

invaluable academic experience, but couldn’t help secure a visa. She also started applying for

PhD programs, but those wouldn’t start until the fall, leaving her with a gap between visas

even if she were to be accepted.

During any other year, she would have popped over to Holland to visit us in order to

exit the UK prior to her visa expiring and then returned to the UK a week or two later as a

tourist. She wouldn’t have been allowed to work, but she could have stayed living with her

boyfriend Brett in their love nest until they went to the US for the summer to visit family

and go camping. With dreams of starting a PhD or finding a job in the UK in the fall, she

knew she couldn’t take the risk of overstaying her visa and disqualifying herself for a future

student or work visa.

Of course, much like last year, 2021 has proven not to be a normal year. Americans are

still banned from entering the

Netherlands without a residency

permit. And they aren’t exactly

rolling out the red carpet for tourists

in the UK either. Thus we

started mentally preparing ourselves

for the eventuality that she

would have to move back to the

US without us. My parents kindly

offered to let her to move in with

them, but I was afraid that situation

would grow old for all of

them quickly. I was truly touched

when the family of Veronica’s

best friend since kindergarten offered

to allow her to move in with

them in North Carolina, despite

not seeing each other since 2014.

While that seemed like a better

option from a mental health perspective,

it would still have been



Veronica reached out to the UK immigration office, but only received automated responses

about visa options, none of which applied to her. She also contacted the US Embassy in

London, but they just referred her back to UK immigration. I was convinced if she could

just reach an actual human, there might be a simple solution, so I posted messages to my

extended network from our running club to see if anyone could help make that contact. I

managed to find someone in the UK Home Office, but in a completely different department,

so yet another dead end.

In the meantime, five weeks before Veronica’s UK visa expired, my husband James,

who is much more of an optimist than me, contacted our immigration lawyer to see if there

was anything he could do to help. I must confess that I figured it would be a waste of time

and money. I was also highly skeptical of our lawyer’s plan to help Veronica apply for an

Orientation Year Highly Educated Persons Visa since there was a temporary block on that

visa due to the pandemic. To add to our stress levels, we were working against a very short

timeframe; the website stated it normally takes eight weeks to process that type of visa. He

felt confident that although we couldn’t sponsor her visa since we still aren’t permanent residents,

our presence here would justify an exception. He was also not concerned that she had

overstayed her tourist visa last year due to her extended stay at the White House Commune

during the early months of the pandemic.

He submitted copies of Veronica’s diplomas and transcripts to a company to certify that

Veronica’s presented documents were indeed from accredited universities. More importantly,

he contacted the Dutch Embassy in London and arranged an appointment for her to submit her

application and biometrics on February 18. She was confused about why she wasn’t asked to

pay the visa fee, but was required to leave behind her passport, which was both encouraging

and terrifying at the same time since the clock was really ticking and she’d need it back in

order to board a flight to the US in case this effort wasn’t successful.

Exactly two weeks later, our lawyer said the decision maker at IND (the Dutch immigration

department that most readers are likely

quite familiar with) was ready to process the

application but couldn’t find proof of payment.

Luckily that was quickly remedied and

didn’t derail the application. Five days later,

Veronica received an email that her visa had

been approved! On March 13, with an entire

week to spare, her passport arrived by special

delivery. Three COVID-19 tests, nine trains/

metros and one ferry ride later, we welcomed

her home on March 20, just one day before

her UK visa expired.

We are thrilled to have our daughter

home, safe and sound, although understand

that it’s only a matter of time before she finds

a way to get back to Brett. In the meantime,

we all enjoy virtual dinner and dance parties

with Brett and Ashlynn, our youngest, who

should be home from Glasgow by May. It

was so sweet to hear Brett thank Veronica

for teaching him how to cook and admitting

that it’s “a major upgrade in my life.” It’s said

that you can’t buy time, but in this case, I’m

grateful that we found a way.

MAY/JUNE 2021 47

Heart Pillows During Lockdown

by Jan de Vries

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, we have had to use a bit of ingenuity to keep the

supply of heart pillows flowing to meet the supply requested by the two hospitals the AWC

currently serves: Antoniushove and Leiden University Medical Centre. Unfortunately, the

incidence of breast cancer, unlike seasonal flu, has not diminished during the pandemic. In

fact, breast cancer in the Netherlands now affects one in every seven women. In January

2021, at Antoniushove alone, there were 52 breast cancer surgeries performed.

In a recent interview with Annemarie Schouten, nurse practitioner in the Mammapoli

Clinic at Antoniushove, I learned that breast cancer patients are guided through diagnosis to

treatment onto post-op recovery and beyond. Counseling begins, questions are answered, fears

allayed, and lifestyle interventions are taught. Our pillows, which are gifted to the patients,

seem to be a rare source of joy for both patients and staff alike, according to Annemarie. We

also know from patient emails that the pillows provide a happy surprise and true physical

comfort, as well as connecting patients to a wider group of women who care in a tangible

way at a moment when it counts.

When I was a young nurse, I quickly realized that it was sometimes seemingly impossible

to provide comfort to post-operative patients. There is always physical pain when the human

body has been incised. Often there is also the pain of loss for a body part that has failed, for

an intervention that is disfiguring, or following the diagnosis of cancer, sometimes all of the

above. Breast cancer speaks to that pain and more! Our pillows help.

A Project Close to My Heart

For those who are unfamiliar with the Heart Pillow Project, AWC volunteers meet to

cut, sew, stuff, close and gift wrap two heart-shaped pillows in colorful fabrics to donate to

patients who have had breast cancer surgery. Our workshops, under normal circumstances,

are held monthly and are open to all. We advertise that sewing skills are not required―just

a willingness to learn and participate are the key requisites.

The Heart Pillow Project came to our Club after the project initiator of AWC Denmark

heard via the FAWCO grapevine that Celeste Brown (then FAWCO President) had been

diagnosed with breast cancer and mailed her a heart pillow. Celeste followed up with a

warm thank you and asked if AWC

The Hague could also make pillows.

AWC history was made. We have

been making and donating pillows

to local hospitals since 2008 for a

total of around 3,000 pillows!

These pillows are not just a symbol

of caring, but the ergonomic design

of the heart provides physical

comfort to women (and men) who

have undergone a lumpectomy or

mastectomy. By placing their affected

arm just over the crux of the

large heart, pressure is relieved on

the operative site. The smaller heart

is used to cushion the wound from

the pressure of seatbelts.


There are, of course, pain relievers, most often of the narcotic variety, for the first 48

hours or so that help to alleviate both the physical and psychological pain. Patient teaching,

nursing comfort measures, and the support of loved ones are all critical adjuncts whose

benefits extend well beyond the first 48 hours. However, the restrictions of the pandemic

have seriously limited many of these mitigations. The power of a hand being held or hugs

and kisses from loved ones and friends cannot be replaced by a Zoom call or FaceTime.

The nurses, too, have been challenged by having to rotate from Mammapoli to the ICU or

emergency department as need dictated, but all the while continuing to support and care for

their breast cancer patients. What stamina they have! And so, when they ask for pillows for

their patients, it seems like the least we at the AWC can do is to help.


Since September 2020, our normally all-inclusive sessions, during which we socialize

while doing the good work of making pillows, have come to a standstill. Our pillow production

has been limited to a handful of generous Members cutting and sewing pillows at home, and

a few of us working (while masked and socially distancing) at the Clubhouse to stuff, close,

wrap and deliver the pillows which are much

in demand. During the most recent lockdown,

we have all been limited to one visitor, or in

the case of heart pillows, a maximum group

of only two. Members have sewn, and pillowmaking

supply kits have been delivered to be

done at home and collected afterward. Despite

the challenges, 118 sets have been completed

since December 2020. The AWC has again

risen to the challenge, and I take my hat off

to the dedicated Members who have made this

possible. So while this article may not seem an

upbeat pandemic tale in the traditional sense,

it is the story of a triumph made possible by

the generosity, goodwill, and dedication of our

volunteers, who continue to provide measures

of comfort to those in genuine need.

MAY/JUNE 2021 49

Finding Friesland, but Not My Sea Legs

by Jo van Kalveen

Every year for the 15 years I have lived

in the Netherlands, my husband Kees

has asked if I would like to take our

summer holiday here in Holland. My answer

has always been no. As much as I love living

here and taking short breaks to different

parts of the country, I’ve always felt that an

extended break wouldn’t really feel like a

“proper” holiday―the same food, people,

landscapes, etc. In May 2020, however, when

it looked like we would not be able to leave

for our annal trip on the continent, I threw

all objections aside and hunted high and low

(along with the rest of the country it seemed!)

for a summer holiday in Holland.

We settled on Friesland and rented a

house :) and a boat :( in a small holiday park

in Eernewoude, which is located in the middle

of De Alde Feanen National Park. The

holiday park (www.bungalowparkitwiid.nl) is

set around a lake and adjoining canals. Every

house is located on the water and had a garden

and dock for a boat. It was lovely.

Lots of the other holiday makers had

rented a sloop―those comfortable looking

boats with engines you often see on Dutch waterways. Kees and the boys, all avid sailors,

scoff at such boats, claiming it’s not proper sailing, so we ended up with a sailboat for a

week. Or as I came to call it, a plastic bathtub with a sail.

Kees collected the boat and sailed it up to the house. We all piled on. I asked where the

seats and cushions were. Turns out there weren’t any. I had to sit on the wet, plastic floor

of the boat. I may have pulled a face. Off we sailed, using the engine to navigate the narrow

channel out to the large lake. This is all very pleasant, I thought. Then we reached the

lake. The engine was turned off, the sail went

up and that’s when I found out that I’m not

really a natural sailor.

It was SO much work. We couldn’t just

point the boat in the direction we wanted to

go. We had to zigzag across the lake to catch

the wind. Kees would bark instructions in

Dutch. I wouldn’t be listening and then get

whacked in the face with the sail. I always

seemed to be holding the wrong rope. And it

seemed just as soon as I got comfortable on

one side of the boat, we would tack (turn),


and I’d have to duck under the moving sail and move across to the other side. I squeaked

when the boat felt like it was tipping over when the sail picked up wind. Kees and the boys

are seasoned sailors, so this was perfectly normal to them. Not to me! I just wanted to sit

peacefully and watch the world go by. I became very envious of anyone that passed us in

a Prosecco Palace (sloop), especially if they were drinking wine!

One afternoon it was quite windy and

the boys politely suggested that “Mum stays

home.” Fine with me! After four months of

being cooped up with the VK men, I delightedly

waved them off, then was giddy at the

thought of having a few hours of me time. I

sat in the sun and read a book. I even took

a nap. It was delightful. I decided then I’m

much better on dry land!

Aside from our sailing trips, we loved exploring

the local area. The weather was amazing.

We rented bikes for our stay and it was so easy to cycle to the surrounding villages. We

crossed dykes on little open boats (pontjes) manned by volunteers and were surrounded by

wide open skies and fields. It was lovely, relaxing and peaceful. Just what we needed.

We also spent a day in Leeuwarden, Friesland’s principal city. We visited the City

Museum (Fries Museum), which was excellent and had a very moving exhibition about the

liberation of Friesland at the end of World War Two.

So that was our experience of holidaying in Holland. Friesland surpassed my expectations

and I loved exploring it by land and by water and highly recommend you do too.

Imagine my delight when Kees decided that 2021, the year in which he turns 50, was

the perfect time to buy a boat. So now we are the proud owners of a 26-foot (8-meter)

sailboat with lots of ropes

and other things I know

nothing about. Kees assures

me it’s a lot more comfortable

to sit on than the one

we had in Friesland. It has

cushions for one thing! He

has declined my suggestion

to rename it “Mid-Life

Crisis.” It sleeps five. I preempted

any suggestions of

it forming the location for

our summer holiday this

year by quickly booking a

holiday house in France.

Should COVID-19 have

other ideas, come July you

may well find me on a boat

somewhere on a Dutch lake,

gazing enviously at passing

Prosecco Palaces.

MAY/JUNE 2021 51


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MAY/JUNE 2021 53

My Happy Place

by Melissa White

As a dog owner, I get outdoors daily

regardless of the weather or the current

pandemic restrictions. As much

as I have grumbled over the years that Kati

cramps my style and makes it nearly impossible

for a last-minute overnight getaway, I

am thankful that she makes me get outside

every single day. Of course, walking the same

route day after day does get monotonous, so

we often try to mix it up.

Some were prominently on display in the

chicken paddock behind the new pancake

house (which has been closed longer than it

was allowed to be open), and ice cream parlor

(which has remained opened to sell their

homemade ice cream and has become our

new source of free-range farm fresh eggs).

When our timing is just right, we catch the

mothers being milked, which is always

amusing as they push and shove their way

to be at the front of the line, and then jump

down the ramp when milking is completed.

At least twice per week over the last year,

we have visited the new nature farm at Tante

Tokkie (www.tantetokkie.nl) on the grounds

of the Van der Valk Hotel de Gouden Leeuw

in Voorschoten. We first encountered these

baby lambs after they had been weaned from

their mothers. They are now full-grown and

awaiting their own babies’ birth.

Over time, the mothers were put in various

paddocks around the property (most

of which had been built during lockdown).

More recently, two sets of lambs have been

born on the farm since late December, and

have been allowed to stay with their mothers,

unlike that first group born in spring

2020. No matter how stressed out I may become

due to all the insanity in my life and

the greater world, I look forward to visiting

the lambs. No matter how many times I’ve

been, they are always entertaining and bring

a smile to my face. During these trying

times, I hope you’ve managed to find your

own happy place.


MAY/JUNE 2021 55





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