Sarah and Melissa journeyed far and wide
to take Front Door Lockdown Portraits of
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
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
SPECIAL PANDEMIC SECTION
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
54 My Happy Place
53 Advertising Rates
53 Index of Advertisers
MAY/JUNE 2021 3
2021-2022 AWC Officers
Johan van Oldenbarneveltlaan 43
2582 NJ Den Haag
Tel: 070 350 6007
Going Dutch Magazine
By Appointment Only
Dues (Effective 2021-2022)
€ 110 per year (€ 66 after January 1)
€ 90 business, professional
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€ 35 full-time students under age 26
€ 35 Outside the Netherlands (Going
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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.
4 GOING DUTCH
Design and Layout
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
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
Communications Lesley Gerrese
Liduine Bekman, Siska Datema-Kool,
Jan Essad, Deana Kreitler, Hannah Gray,
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
Pickleball: Barbara Brookman
Social Media Facebook and Instagram:
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
6 GOING DUTCH
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
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
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
drawing on new
and old Members
to build this team.
AWC The Hague
is ready for another
8 GOING DUTCH
Hoekstra and our previous Honorary
President Diane Hoekstra returned home.
at our General
back to the
She was born
here, but raised
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!
10 GOING DUTCH
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
with any changes.
Sligro The Hague Forepark is the perfect fit for you as entrepreneur.
We inspire and support you with our products and services, that will
help you with your business. Our people are always there for you
with professional and tailored advice.
Linge 2, The Hague
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
any questions and keep an eye out for the
next Newcomers’ event on the AWC website
and Wild Apricot app.
12 GOING DUTCH
MAY/JUNE 2021 13
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
10 a.m. – Noon
Wassenaar and Environs Coffee
1st Thursday of the Month
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 email@example.com
to be added to the WhatsApp group for last
minute updates and cancellations.
AWC Pickleball has resumed with play on
the outdoor courts at Laan van Poot sports
14 GOING DUTCH
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 firstname.lastname@example.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
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
email@example.com. Check eNews for updates.
Sunday, July 4
2 – 6 p.m.
ABF Clubhouse adjacent to ASH
Ammonslaantje 1, Wassenaar
MAY/JUNE 2021 15
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:
Haggerty handles the evening meetings:
for messages in eNews about the possibility
of meeting at the Clubhouse or virtually.
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
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
Thursday, June 24
16 GOING DUTCH
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
August Selection: The Weekend by
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
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
here are of people who did bother, for their
own reasons, even if all that changed was
Wednesday, May 12
June Selection: It's Not all Downhill from
Here by Terry McMillan
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
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
18 GOING DUTCH
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.
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.
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
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
20 GOING DUTCH
RSVP for all Arts Activities directly
Direct any questions to
Smell the Art: Fleeting – Scents
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
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
• 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.
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
22 GOING DUTCH
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
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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
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
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
MAY/JUNE 2021 25
Continued from page 25
and I organized
and people outside
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.”
26 GOING DUTCH
I would stand to the side and just watch and
listen. They were in a world only another veteran
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
Have you tried the leading sports & movement
programme for children?
We’ve got weekly classes for ages 2-6 in
the below locations:
Tennisclub Thor De Bataaf
MAY/JUNE 2021 27
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
2 3 4
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake
Pickleball 10 a.m.
Wassenaar Coffee and
Convo 9:30 a.m
Remembrance Day Liberation Day
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m.
Guided Walking Tour:
Vincent van Gogh's Life
in The Hague 10:15 a.m.
Chat, Craft & Cake
16 17 18
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake
Buddy Check 12
Pickleball 10 a.m.
Evening Book Club
Pickleball 10 a.m. May General Meeting:
Installation of Officers
13 14 15
23 24 25
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m.
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.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Chat, Craft & Cake
Pickleball 10 a.m.
Wassenaar Coffee and
Convo 9:30 a.m
6 7 8
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake
Pickleball 10 a.m.
Walking Tour of Pilgrims’
Leiden 11 a.m.
June General Meeting
Buddy Check 12
13 14 15
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake
Evening Book Club
Pickleball 10 a.m.
17 18 19
20 21 22
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake
Pickleball 10 a.m.
Daytime Book Club
27 28 29
Walkie Talkies 9:30 a.m. Chat, Craft & Cake
Pickleball 10 a.m.
Save the Date:
Fall Kick Off
28 GOING DUTCH
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!
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!)
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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!
32 GOING DUTCH
• 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
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
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
34 GOING DUTCH
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.
36 GOING DUTCH
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.
38 GOING DUTCH
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or
Sarah Partridge at email@example.com.
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,
40 GOING DUTCH
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
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
42 GOING DUTCH
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
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
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
44 GOING DUTCH
MAY/JUNE 2021 45
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
46 GOING DUTCH
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.
48 GOING DUTCH
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),
50 GOING DUTCH
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
MAY/JUNE 2021 51
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52 GOING DUTCH
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.
54 GOING DUTCH
MAY/JUNE 2021 55
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