An Interview with Nita Talwar, President of the Kiran Anjali Project

Introducing Nita Talwar, President of the Kiran Anjali Project, and recipient of the FAWCO Development Grant.

1) What is the mission of the Kiran Anjali Project?

The Kiran Anjali Project’s mission is to give guidance and financial support to institutions that provide education to disadvantaged children, especially girls, in India. We envision a bias-free world in which all children receive a high-quality education and job skills so they can be self-sufficient.

2) How will the FAWCO development grant assist you in achieving your mission?

The FAWCO development grant is very special to us, as it will allow us to develop a gender-equality curriculum for the youngest students who are served by our partner projects. Existing gender-equality curriculums start when children are much older and do not address the specific cultural issues and norms faced by the children living in the poorest communities of India.

3) What makes this mission so meaningful to you?

Having lived in India as an adult after growing up in the United States, the reality of seeing these young children on the streets rather than in school propelled me to do something about it. I am grateful to the Kiran Anjali Project for supporting well-run organizations that provide high-quality education and safe environments to the vulnerable children they serve.

4) What are the Kiran Anjali Project’s goals this year, and how will the FAWCO grant help you achieve these?

Due to the COVID outbreak and recent sectarian riots in India, we have had to shift our planned goals. At the moment, our goal is to keep the children safe, fed, and learning. The younger students are receiving homework packets and the older ones have started online learning. Smart phones have become very important for the older girls for both online learning and communication with teachers and classmates via WhatsApp groups. Understanding gender equality has become even more important, because the lockdown has seen an increase in domestic violence.

5) Why are your goals important?

The goals of the Kiran Anjali Project are important because education can lift children out of poverty and give young women self-determination and independence. 

6) What would happen if your organization was not able to accomplish its goals?

In normal times, not meeting our goals would deprive children of a quality education. This year, we must be nimble enough to assess the situation on the ground and act accordingly. We would like to see all the girls return to schools once they open and not lose them to early marriage or moving away from the school to remote villages.

7) What are some of your accomplishments? For example: How many individuals have you helped? In which communities? How have you helped them?

Since 2012, the Kiran Anjali Project has granted over $1.3 million to grassroots partners serving children, especially girls, from ages 3 to 18. We have funded high-quality education for over 1,400 destitute students from Bangalore, Hyderabad, and New Delhi. The projects we support include a pre-school and scholarship program in Bangalore, an after-school all-girls STEM lab in New Delhi, and a junior college program for destitute girls in Hyderabad.  Our newest partner project will help young women through junior college and university.

8) Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?

Vyshanavi is a young woman whose future looked bleak when her mother passed away nine years ago due to complications from anemia. Vyshnavi was 12 years old at the time and had already lost her father to AIDS a few years earlier. As an orphan from a poor family, she was at risk for trafficking or early marriage. Fortunately, her uncle took her in and allowed her to continue her education at a school for girls supported by the Kiran Anjali Project. At the school, she learned about her rights under the Indian constitution and insisted that she be allowed to continue her education after her Class 10 exams. We provided a scholarship for her to continue her education at junior college and she went on to complete her degree at university. She is now preparing for admission to an MBA program.

The Kiran Anjali Project provided a quality education which will be the backbone of my future success. The Kiran Anjali Project guided me as a teacher, advised me as a friend, and supported me as a family.” – Vyshnavi

Pooja was born to rag pickers who often forced her to beg at train stations from a young age. They would beat her if she didn’t bring home enough money. When she was only 8 years old, her parents abandoned her at a station. After surviving by her wits for many weeks, she was eventually brought to a home for neglected girls; this home receives educational grants from the Kiran Anjali Project. It took over a year for Pooja to settle into life at the home and at school. Eventually she began to feel at ease. She learned English through the intensive language summer program funded by the Kiran Anjali Project, and eventually she was able to transfer to an English-medium school with our support. Pooja is doing well academically and hopes to attend junior college when she finishes her Class 10 exams in a couple of years.

9) Are there volunteer opportunities other than financial contributions?

We are very open to hearing donors’ ideas for support. Because of the interests of donors, we now have a teen advisory council, we have created a story book, and we have conducted donor trips — all to increase awareness and raise funds.

10) What do you love about your job and the organization you serve?

The board is composed of an amazing group of women whom I feel fortunate to be working with. I love the entrepreneurial spirit, can-do attitude, flexible schedule, and the meaning and purpose behind the work we do. Our work makes a direct difference in children’s lives. We can see our impact.

An Update from Audrey: Where to Go This Summer in The Netherlands

By Audrey Mezas

A Very Dutch Summer

We’re all used to freely choosing where to go and what to do during our summer vacation, but what does that mean for us this summer? The “new normal” now means having to do your homework ahead of time and find out what is possible, which locations are not overcrowded, and which are clean and safe. I want to share some of my favorite places in the Netherlands with you, some of which may fit your wishlist. 

Please call a location ahead of time to make sure that all health precautions have been taken care of, as prescribed by the Dutch government. Prime Minister Rutte has requested that we please try to book our vacations outside of the Dutch school vacations, if possible, which means in late August and/or in September of this year. He also advises that you check your travel insurance to ensure you are covered just in case changes are made by the government before your departure.

Please regularly consult these links to stay up to date.

Unique and wonderful places to stay

Dutchen holiday homes in luxury parks

Dutchen’s website has made many of my friends very happy. They offer more than 100 luxury vacation villas for you to choose from, located all over the Netherlands. There are options in every size, ranging from single occupancy to 20 people.

Hoogenweerth Castle

There are ten beautifully designed suites, located next to the beautiful Hoogenweerth Castle in Maastricht on the bank of the river Maas. A beautiful grand terrace sits on the riverbank and provides a fantastic view.

Treehouse in Drenthe (Dutch site)

This is one of the hidden treasures in The Netherlands – an amazing treehouse for a maximum of six persons on 29 acres in the middle of Drenthe! It is located next to the tiny village of Anderen, which has only 250 inhabitants. On the same piece of land, a small vacation cabin for two persons is also available to rent. The kids can ride the little ponies and enjoy nature. Total relaxation while enjoying many trails in the countryside.

B&B ’t Poorthuys

This beautiful B&B, built in 1530, is located in the heart of Middelburg in the province of Zeeland. The B&B has eight rooms and several spacious suites. There are bikes available for rent, and amazing city tours can be taken, either on foot or by boat.

Book a houseboat

BookaHouseboat has houseboats for rent in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, several cities in Europe, and even in Canada and the United States. There’s nothing more special than opening the windows of your houseboat and being right on the water.

Oesterdam Resort

This holiday park is in Tholen, in the province of Zeeland. The vacation villas are located right on the water, with a Marina Beach Club, a restaurant, boat and canoe rental and much more. They call it “Ibiza in the Netherlands”.

Landal GreenParks

The Landal Group has been around for many years. I have personally stayed at many of their parks, which range from beach houses in Zeeland to unique private villas in Friesland with a private boat in front of your vacation home. Landal even has a food delivery service that delivers your groceries to your vacation  home upon arrival. Boat rental, bowling, bike rental, and plenty of activities for kids and family members of all ages are readily available.

The Oostwegel Collection

If you’re looking for luxury, then let me tell you that the Oostwegel Collection of luxurious hotels, villas, residences and restaurants in the Netherlands is something you should not miss. Whether it’s celebrating a special anniversary or getting away and spoiling yourself, you’ll have difficulty choosing from these extraordinary locations and experiences.

Windmill Cottage

If you haven’t stayed in the Windmill Cottage, then you have missed an authentic Dutch experience. The cottage is located next to the Vrouwgeest windmill, which was built in 1797 in Alphen aan de Rijn and is only 30 minutes from Amsterdam. Your family of four will be able to enjoy the cows in the countryside, go hiking and/or biking, and explore the quaint villages nearby.

I’m looking forward to hearing if any of these beautiful and fun parts of the Netherlands have made your eyes twinkle enough for you to book a vacation there. Maybe you’ll even send me an old-fashioned postcard!

Have a wonderful, fun and safe summer!

Audrey

Audrey Mezas is the AWCA Club Liaison and is owner of a niche relocation company called Expat in Amsterdam®.

Applying the Lessons Learned from our Mothers

By Meredith Mani

These days, everyone is trying to stretch the supplies they have on hand. People are baking their own bread, looking online for recipes that use canned goods, and finding hacks to get around missing ingredients like yeast. The Greatest Generation — the one of our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers — pioneered these skills during the Depression and in periods of shortages during WWI and WWII.

What can we learn from these wise women and apply to our life now? When resources are scarce and time is plentiful, there is actually a wide variety of things you can do. Here is a short list. What can you add to help out our members?

  1. Regrow your grocery scraps. Seriously, this is easy and is much faster than starting from seed. There are two types of scraps you can regrow: tops and bottoms. Bottoms include celery, bok choy, romaine, spring onions, fennel, leeks and garlic. Tops include beets, carrots, radish and turnips. The principal for both is the same: Cut or leave the veggie with 1-3 inches intact, fill a small jar or bowl with 1 inch of water and place the top or bottom in it, and put in a sunny space, like a windowsill. Then all you need to do is change the water every day. You are now growing your own food and reducing food waste.
  2. Get creative. No yeast to be found? Sourdough to the rescue. It takes a week to start but then you have all the rise you need to bake everything from English muffins to baguettes. You can also make bread with beer or bake a cake with Coca Cola. If you do have some yeast, stretch your supply by making a Poolish (also called pouliche, a bread starter) from 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, ¾ cup room temp water and ¼ teaspoon yeast. Mix in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and wait 12 hours. the mixture will then have the lift of a full package of yeast. Remember to subtract the flour used in the Poolish from the recipe you’re using it in.
  3. Start a Corona victory garden. Many veggies are easy to grow in pots on a balcony or rooftop. Cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers are the easiest. Save your old egg cartons and either sow directly in soil in each cup of the carton or put soil in an empty and clean eggshell half and then put in the carton. Water as needed until your sprout is a few inches high. Then you can easily replant in a pot in the garden by either cutting around the carton and planting each cup or by delicately transferring the individual eggshell halves, cracking the shell lightly as you plant. Eggshells provide the added bonus of feeding the roots as the plant grows. More start-a-garden tips from NPR!
  4. Waste not, want not. Grab a big zip top bag and start slowly filling it up with vegetable scraps and peels and herbs to make your own broth. Throw in onion skins and tops, carrots and celery that’s wilted, thyme that has gone off-color, those itty-bitty cloves of garlic in the middle of the bulb that are impossible to peel, and even chicken bones. Keep it in the freezer until the bag is almost full and then toss it all in a medium-sized pot along with water and a splash of apple cider vinegar if you have bones in the broth; simmer for several hours. Let cool and then strain. Freeze in pint size bags and/or ice cubes trays. Ice cube size broth is perfect to throw into rice or add to a recipe that just calls for a little. If, for some crazy reason, you have leftover bits of wine, these also freeze nicely in ice cube trays and are great for adding to a recipe that needs a splash of wine.
  5. Repurpose glass jars. Glass jars can be used as containers, drinking glasses, pretty votive holders on the porch, or storage containers for nails. I like to use them to make quick jars of pickles or small batches of jams. Save your orange and citrus peels and you can make an easy marmalade to store and use in the refrigerator — no pectin required.
  6. Extend, extend, extend. Make the most of your meat by extending it. Add diced potatoes or a can of black beans to taco meat. Lentils or oatmeal can easily be added to meatloaf or meatballs to stretch a meal. Give new life to old food by bringing back Sunday Soup. To make this soup, put all your leftovers and odds-and-ends veggies into a pot, add a can of tomatoes and some spices, maybe even some rice and noodles, and you have a delicious dinner and a clean refrigerator. Remember: THE MOST EXPENSIVE FOOD IS THE FOOD YOU THROW AWAY.
  7. Make it at home. Sure, this is true for food but there are also lots of personal care items you can whip up in your kitchen. You can make dry shampoo, hand sanitizer, room spray and multi-purpose counter spray at home using simple ingredients like corn starch, essential oils and white vinegar. While you’re at it, stretch your soaps by adding a little water to the bottle when they are 1/3 of the way down. Today’s products are highly concentrated, so you won’t lose effectiveness but you’ll gain many more uses.
  8. Wear an apron. You realize you have now officially become your mother, right? I know, I know, but wearing an apron while you are cooking or doing messy tasks will keep your clothing from getting stained.

We all need to be creative throughout the home and in our kitchen to help family members adjust to being quarantined. Thankfully, as expats, we have had to learn to adjust before and are all the stronger for it. There are no tricks or hacks for the mental fortitude it takes to get through an event like we are currently living though. Reach out to friends and family through FaceTime or Zoom to stay connected. Ask for help when you need it and know you are not in this alone. AWCA women have always taken inspiration from the women who went before us. They have handled wars and crises and upheaval we can’t even imagine. But they stayed strong and relied on each other to get through while they were far from home. You got this.

 

Your Local Food Delivery List

As part of the AWCA's efforts to encourage physical distancing, flattening the curve, and staying safe and healthy, we are sharing our favorite local food and grocery ordering resources. We have a Google form where you can submit your best ideas, and an always up-to-date list of those responses.

Don't forget our Benefit Partners and your fellow members! There are lots of great food and drink products on these pages, and supporting them supports us:

Eight Tips for Helping our Kids Cope with Coronavirus

by Dr. Anisha Abraham

How are you adjusting to social distancing, school closures, home offices, lockdowns and toilet paper shortages? If the onslaught of memes and cartoons are any indication, the last few weeks have been difficult for many families holed up at home! Here are a few tips to help kids to cope with the unfolding uncertainties and challenges of COVID-19.

  1. Maintain routines. Maintaining routines and schedules can provide children and teens a sense of stability. There are good online tools for creating a schedule for school-age kids. In our house, we made schedules with our tweens, which include online school hours, mealtimes, exercise, piano practice, small chores and free time. Of course, we had our share of drama and eye-rolling, but it does provide a rough guide for the day. For teens, consider their need for independence and creating their own path for learning, but also encourage them to take time away from media use, get physical activity and break large assignments into smaller ones. Finally, a reminder to parents-manage your expectations. Your child or teen may not be working at the same pace or intensity as a regular school day. Acknowledge this, as hard as it may be to do. 
  2. Empower kids to be responsible. Remind children and teens that they can protect themselves and others by practicing proper hand washing, sneezing into your elbow and maintaining social distancing. What we have seen is that children and teens may not get as sick as adults but can still transmit the virus to the elderly (over 60 years) or those who have chronic illnesses. By ensuring our kids use social distancing, we help decrease the total number of infections. What is social distancing? In our house, it means that there are no friends over and we don’t visit friends. If they do meet a friend outdoors to bike or kick a ball, they need to keep about 6 feet away. They are allowed to use the phone, skype or Whatsapp to connect with others. This all may seem tough to enforce, especially with teens. Still, it is ultimately our obligation as parents to teach social behavior and to keep our kids and our community healthy.
  3. Discuss information based on age. Realize that many kids are curious about what’s happening, and issues are changing by the hour. My kids, for example, are very interested in the daily statistics for COVID-19 rates by country and often check this John Hopkins site. Discuss what’s happening in an age-appropriate way. ​This may mean avoiding having adult-level conversations around small kids while talking about public health strategies and recent research studies with older ones. Also, knowing that constant social media updates can increase stress levels so encouraging kids to back off on news streams if they are feeling irritable, anxious or depressed.
  4. Build on strengths and allow boredom. Every child has strengths and interests, whether it is music, arts, science, writing and so on. Building on their strengths helps kids develop resilience and handle challenges. One of my son’s friends is an excellent illustrator and is spending some time each day drawing elaborate cartoon strips. For a teen that loves coding or math, try Khan Academy. For kids that enjoy being with animals- try zoos around the world such as the Smithsonian that have live cams. For those who enjoy the arts and want to create their own masterpiece, try a virtual tour of a museum to get inspired. Finally, how many of you have heard the phrase, “I’m bored” at home recently? Remember allowing a little boredom is a great way to promote creativity and self-sufficiency.
  5. Embrace uncertainty and start dreaming big. Research shows that kids don’t need to have a linear path to succeed. In fact, those with a slightly squiggly journey end up doing better in life. This is a great time to move beyond what has been planned and do some creative brainstorming on how to redirect and move on. Did the family trip get cancelled? If so, what is on your bucket list for your next adventure? Did the final term of high school or university just get cut short? How can you navigate the next steps? Do you have a cool idea for a short story, or a community service project? How can you start it now?
  6. Emphasize kindness and caring. Unfortunately, some communities have been the target of unkind remarks and even outright racism as a result of coronavirus. Encourage kids to continue to be kind to all people, regardless of where they are from or what they look like. Also, think of ways to give back to your community and provide outreach: for example, helping a neighbor that is elderly, donating items, to a food bank or buying gift certificates to support a local business.
  7. Model positive behaviors. Kids learn from adults as to how to react in new situations. We need to model positive ways to stay healthy and handle uncertainty, including exercising regularly, eating healthy foods to boost immunity and staying connected with loved ones. In our house, we pulled out the board games (Pandemic, anyone?), scheduled a virtual dinner with friends, created a Netflix list and are having regular calls with family around the globe. If possible, get outdoors and bike, run, hike or walk as a family. If that doesn’t work, try striking a few yoga poses or doing a mindfulness app at home. Finally, adults need to limit their media use around coronavirus and ensure devices stay out of bedrooms at night.
  8. Look out for warning signs. Changes in eating or sleep habits, increased irritability or sadness, the inability to get off devices, or the need for constant reassurance can be signs that kids may be struggling and need support. Try talking things out or getting another adult or mentor to be involved. If these don’t help, it may be time to reach out to your health provider or a counselor for additional help. Keeping with the times, many are providing telephone and electronic consults.

What is happening around us with COVID-19 can be scary and difficult for kids and adults. Hopefully, with creating routines, encouraging social distancing, having developmentally-based discussions and building on their natural strengths, we can support our kids at home. In addition, don’t forget the importance of embracing uncertainty, modeling kindness and positive self-care skills as parents while looking out for signs of depression and anxiety. Stay safe and calm!    

For more tips:

Parenting during coronavirus: What to know about play dates, education and more

Talking to Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus

7 Ways to Help Kids Cope with Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anxiety

A List of Indoor Activities That Will Keep Kids Entertained at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Bio:

Dr. Anisha Abraham is a pediatrician and teen health specialist based in Amsterdam, NL, and on faculty at both the University of Amsterdam and Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.  She works with teens, parents, and educators globally, using her 25 years of experience as a practicing clinician, researcher, and health educator. Her book Raising Global Teens: Parenting in the 21st Century will be released this autumn in local bookstores and on Amazon. For more information, see https://dranishaabraham.com/.

 

 

How to Entertain, Educate, and Earn While Stuck At Home

or, How to Stay Sane During a Pandemic

by Kate Spaulding

Friends, neighbors, countrypeople, this is an unprecedented time in our world. We know some of what we have to do: wash our hands, physically distance ourselves from each other, wash our hands, limit grocery runs, be kind to ourselves and our community, wash our hands, and work together. But we're also learning to navigate working from home (sometimes for the first time), cooking more, battling cabin fever, and managing kids who aren't in school. It's times like these that demonstrate the strength of our communities and adaptability of the human race. You're not in this alone.

To that end, we're rounding up resources to help you reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Do you have more great ideas? Please, add them to the conversation in the AWCA Facebook Group!

Working from Home

  • 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You
  • How to Work From Home the Right Way
  • The most important thing is to have a routine - it can be the same for 5 days a week and then slightly different for 2 days a week - like that you can try to keep a similar rhythm to normal (whatever that is). Don't be afraid to do things that use to seem stupid - move furniture away from walls so you can walk around rooms completely. Create different spaces in your home so that it is clear what happens where to support routines - this is the play corner - or we play when we put this out etc. This is the eating time. This is quit time. Create virtual community groups - there are other people out there that you know with small children that can organise whatsapp singing a longs or reading stories etc. But ROUTINE and virtual communities will save you! --from Aine Markham via Facebook
  • The Remote Work Mega Guide
  • How to Work from Home Like a Boss

Activities

Especially for Parents

 

 

D E S I G N details: Iris van Herpen

by Sherrie Zwail Enderman, SZIdesign

Over the years, there have been only a few world-renowned Dutch fashion designers. Not many reach Paris, Japan and New York.

But in recent years a true star has emerged on the scene, and it is none other than Iris van Herpen

Iris van Herpen is a Dutch fashion designer who started her own label in 2007 and has shown her collections at the Paris Fashion Week since January 2011. Van Herpen creates magnificent technical couture. While all designers can be considered unique, Iris has no equal in the design world.

Iris van Herpen studied Fashion Design at ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem, and was an intern for Alexander McQueen in London and Claudy Jongstra in Amsterdam.  She graduated in 2006, and in 2007 she founded her own women's wear label.

Photo by Christopher MacSurak via Wikimedia Commons.

A pioneer in utilizing 3D printing for constructing her garments, Iris van Herpen is an innovator who uses technology as one of the guiding principles in her work.

Photo by Christopher MacSurak via Wikimedia Commons.

Van Herpen’s forward thinking continuously pushes the boundaries of fashion design. Since her career began, she has focused on inventing new forms and methods by combining the past and the future, combining traditional and radical materials, and combining construction methods of technology and fine couture craftsmanship. Van Herpen’s work is sculptural and unfamiliar in form and nature.

Because of her multidisciplinary approach, Van Herpen often collaborates with such artists as Benthem and Crouwel Architects, choreographer and dancer Sasha Waltz, and designer Jolan van der Wiel, to name a few.

Photo credit: Julia_585 / Shutterstock.com

Iris van Herpen also works with progressive musicians and actresses, such as Björk, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Miley Cyrus, Fan Bingbing, Lady Gaga and Naomi Campbell. The list goes on and on. 

Her special projects included dressing the actress Scarlett Johansson in the film “Lucy” and dressing Beyoncé for her “Mine” video.

Photo credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

At the recent 2020 Golden Globe Awards, Joey King walked down the red carpet wearing a dress designed by Iris Van Herpen.

At the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones, Gwendoline Christie’s stunning gown was created by designer Iris van Herpen. While standing in front of the flames of the Game of Thrones backdrop, the actress showcased the dress’ flame-like qualities.

Photo credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Iris van Herpen’s runway shows in Paris are spectacular; her garments are sculptural and admired by all. Check out her last show from January 2020, called Sensory Seas. 

Whether or not you find the work of Iris Van Herpen beautiful, one cannot challenge the creative brilliance of her talent for incorporating advanced technology into the fine art of fashion. Iris is here to stay and I am proud that Amsterdam is her home. Iris van Herpen certainly adds value and credibility to the Netherlands.

 

D E S I G N details: Levenslicht

by Sherrie Zwail Enderman, SZIdesign

Photo credit: Daan Roosegaarde, www.studioroosegaarde.net

As some of you may know, design is my passion and I couldn’t be happier about living in the Netherlands, where the local design is constantly inspiring me. I am excited to introduce you to creative and inspiring design, designers, projects, trends and exhibits right here in our backyard. 

I first wrote about Daan Roosegaarde from Studio Roosegaarde a few years ago. He and his team create many amazing projects. Daan is a designer who is regarded highly for his creative use of light, ultraviolet lamps and glow-in-the-dark paint. One project of his that I highlighted in the past was the Van Gogh Path, a bike path made up of thousands of illuminating stones and inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night.  This project won several international awards, as it was technically advanced and creatively stimulating.

Another project that Daan Roosegaarde worked on was in honor of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of German Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz. Here Daan was asked to design a monument to honor the 104,000 Dutch Holocaust victims. In collaboration with the National Committee, he developed LEVENSLICHT (Light of Life). 

Photo credit: Daan Roosegaarde, www.studioroosegaarde.net

Levenslicht can be viewed in 170 locations throughout the Netherlands. The project incorporates 104,000 illuminating stones in memory of each person killed. Stones have a very significant meaning in the Jewish religion, as it is typical to place a stone instead of flowers near a gravesite to honor the deceased. Stones are also significant in the Roma and Sinti communities, whose members were also persecuted. Therefore, stones were the natural catalyst for Daan’s inspiration.

The Levenslicht installations consist of a circle of granite stones, coated with fluorescent ink and lit with an ultraviolet lamp, in all the locations in the Netherlands where people were sent to concentration and extermination camps in the Second World War. The hope is that Levenslicht will provide "a place for contemplation about the Holocaust and the broader importance of freedom" for the people of the Netherlands. "Levenslicht is not a traditional static monument in which people are purely observers; it asks social participation," said Roosegaarde. "Light is life, light is hope: Levenslicht."

The main location of Levenslicht is in Rotterdam, but the installations can also be seen in another 170 municipalities in the Netherlands. You can visit these installations from January 16 to February 2, 2020.

Keep your eye out for Daan Roosegaarde. You won’t be disappointed in his commitment to use beauty to make our world a more humane place to live.

Looking for a Book Club?

by Catie Mohin

Greetings, fellow readers and book lovers! Are you new to the AWCA, or have you been thinking about finding a book club? Well, here are some timely tips for you!

AWCA currently has three book clubs: the Haarlem Book Club, the Evening Book Club and the Afternoon Book Club. Obvious names, right?! The American Book Center on Spuistraat also runs a monthly book club, which is open to the public.

With that said, available spots in the book clubs tends to ebb and flow. Members leave through repatriation or because of work or family commitments, and new members are always looking to join. For example, both the Afternoon and Evening Book Clubs are full at the moment. The Haarlem Book Club is a tad more open-ended since many of the members' homes (where book clubs meet) are a little larger. Keep in mind, though, that good discussions are easier if there are about 8-12 readers in the group.

So, now that you know about AWCA book clubs, what's next? Would you like to start another book club? As you may already know, you can start a new AWCA activity by using this request form. This form is also accessible on the awca.nl website in the Member Pages → Planning An Activity (you must first sign in to access the Member Pages). The form is designed to accommodate recurring events such as a book club.

If you need some help getting your book club started, here are several helpful links about organizing and starting a book club:

How to Start a Book Club That Doesn't Suck | Book Riot

How to Start Your Own Book Club - Oprah.com

How To Run A Book Club Meeting - Organize A Book Club

Contact Catie Mohin if you need any further help getting started, or if you want to bounce around some ideas. Good luck, and happy reading!

How to Find Fine Dining (on a Budget)

By Marcie Asplin
Tulip Talk Editor

Who doesn’t appreciate the finer things in life? Although they often come with a hefty price tag, but they don’t have to. Fine dining is one of those categories. Yes, it’s January, and you might be starting New Year’s resolutions or detoxing, so just file this info away for the next significant birthday, anniversary celebration, or whenever you may need it. 

Despite its small size, The Netherlands has an abundance of fine dining. In 2019, there were 110 Michelin-starred restaurants in the country. There are three 3-star restaurants, 18 2-star restaurants and 89 1-star restaurants. (For comparison, a combined Belgium and Luxembourg have 139 starred restaurants, and there are 189 starred restaurants in the UK.)

Typically, to find these options, you would look at Michelin's list of Dutch restaurants. If you are looking for deals, however, then you need to make friends with a few other websites. DiningCity and Heerlijk regularly have restaurant deals and offer at least 30% off food (some restaurants have “all-in” arrangements, including wine as well) at Michelin-starred restaurants. Heerlijk also has some combined restaurant and hotel deals on its “Eten & Slapen” page, which are great if you are looking for an exceptional experience. Both websites offer “Restaurant Week” deals a few times a year. Dining City has a “Dining with the Stars” week. Deals start at €52.50 for a multiple-course meal. You can sign up for their newsletter at the bottom of their home page by entering your email in the “Stay informed” box. Heerlijk calls its offers the “10Daagse,” and the “Winners Edition” begins on Jan. 17 (three-course meals start at €28.50). If you sign up for their newsletters, you receive advance notice when those restaurant weeks are coming up, and you can plan your bookings. 

Groupon is another website that you most likely know already. They have food and drink offers around the Netherlands, too, and also have fine dining deals throughout the year. Amstelveen has its own “Restaurant Week” deals through Amstelveenz.nl. In 2019, Restaurant Week ran between 24 October-3 November. My husband’s birthday happened to be during that time, and we celebrated with a two-star, four-course lunch at Aan de Poel for €47.50 per person, excluding drinks.

“Forget fine dining,” you say. “I just want to know the best place to eat ____ (insert favorite food here) in Amsterdam (or Haarlem, or Den Haag or the Dutch city you are exploring next).” When we moved to Amsterdam way back in 2003, we had to rely on a little black book of top restaurants published by IENS to find the best the city had to offer. IENS eventually started a website, which has since been taken over by The Fork. The Fork also has an app now, which is excellent if you find yourself in an unfamiliar Dutch city and are looking for recommendations or a particular type of restaurant. In just a few clicks, you will find that their “popular selection” turns up 834 restaurants in Amsterdam, 255 in Rotterdam, 235 in Den Haag, and 140 in Utrecht. Many of these restaurants offer 30-50 percent off your food bill by booking on The Fork. Dining City has a smaller selection of restaurants (319 in Amsterdam), but they are wide-ranging and include highly-rated places like HappyHappyJoyJoy, Angolo Italiano and Mamouche.

Don’t forget, AWCA has regular events for our foodies, too. Dining Divas explores Amsterdam’s thriving restaurant scene each month. Cheap-N-Cheerful looks for meals around €20, and sometimes partners can come too. There’s also Cooking Club, hosted each month at a different member’s home with diverse world cuisines on the menus. Any AWCA member can organize an event, so perhaps the next time a fine-dining deal comes around, you’ll see it on the AWCA calendar or featured activities list — or you’ll propose adding it! 

What are your favorite restaurants? Let us know your favorites, from local places to fine dining, and we can compile some lists for you. Eet smakelijk!

The first thing

By Meredith Mani
Co-VP of External Communications

The first thing our family does when we move to a new city is to search for good Indian restaurants. Whether in New York, Washington, D.C., Bangalore or Amsterdam, good Indian food is what has bonded and sustained us over the years. When I married an Indian man 20 years ago, I knew I'd better learn to make the food of his homeland. 

Knowing how to cook Indian food makes me a pretty harsh critic of restaurant food. Four restaurants in Amsterdam have become favorites. Three are sit-down restaurants that are perfect for a date night or a meal with friends. The fourth is street food served in a vibrant, casual environment. 

Tulsi
Van Woustraat 212, 1073 NA Amsterdam 

Tulsi has great service that starts with red ropes outside the door and continues to the tables with attentive waiters. They have vegetarian and non-vegetarian offerings and even a children's menu with butter chicken (which is what all kids want at an Indian restaurant). Pani Puri is a family favorite dish, and Tulsi’s version does not disappoint. It is a crispy shell stuffed with potatoes and mild spices that you dip in flavored water. My description doesn't do it justice. It's addictive. Tulsi has super tandoori offerings and executes them well. The portions aren't huge but you'll leave satisfied if you share a dish or two with your table mates. For something different, try Bharta, Tulsi's smokey, slightly spicy roasted eggplant dish. 

Pind Punjabi
Van Woustraat 240, 1073 NC Amsterdam

Tulsi and Pind Punjabi are just steps from each other on van Woustraat. Both restaurants are delicious but offer different takes on familiar dishes. 

Pind Punjabi has several dishes that will be familiar, but it sets itself apart by offering a few extra items that will surprise you. They have a dazzling array of lamb and fish entrees. Where most restaurants offer one or two biryanis, Pind Punjabi has four. The Persian Biryani is especially memorable. While Butter Chicken is their signature dish, they offer a few chicken entrees that are hard to find. Chicken Kashmiri is slightly sweet with an undercurrent of aromatic spices. Paired with hot and spicy Chicken Madras, the combination plays nicely off each other. 

Mayur
Leidsedsedwarsstraat 203, 1017 RB Amsterdam

I love the vibe of Mayur with its tiny matchbox Hindu gods decorating the walls. Fun fact: you can buy one if you really like them. This place is always busy and for good reason — the food and service are consistently good. Mayur's highlight is the fun tasting menu. You can try small servings of several dishes and has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The food comes on one big plate with small bowls of each item placed around the rim. The classic curries here are all wildly rich and hearty. Grab a few friends and treat yourself to a meal at Mayur if you haven't been. 

Indian Street Food & Co.
Karel Doormanweg 12, 1181 WE Amstelveen

Indian Street Food is a fairly well-guarded secret in the Indian community. Since opening last year, Indians from all over The Netherlands pack the restaurant on weekends to eat this truly authentic homey food. Plan to grab a bench in this brightly colored cafe and eat your way through the menu. It's that good and unique. They offer four types of food: Roadside curries, Bombay Brasserie, Desi Chinese and Street drinks. Indian Street Food serves some of the best Pani Puri. I could eat three plates. Try the Railway Bhel Puri for an authentic snack rarely found outside of India. Gobhi Manchurian, a dish on the Desi Chinese menu, is cauliflower fried in chickpea batter and tossed in a mildly spicy sauce. You could argue that it's good for you. Indian Street Food is so busy they don't take reservations or orders over the phone. That's okay though because experiencing the chaos there makes it feel a lot like being in India without the expense of flying.

 

Brandenburg Gate at night

Member Travel Tips: Berlin

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

Brandenburg Gate at night

This month's destination is Berlin!

Lodging:

  • Soho House, Das Stue
  • Hotel Bristol Berlin. Great hotel and good service. *(we were lucky to have been upgraded to the presidential suite and annexes). Breakfast in their grand café is busy but good, and the terrace is like a Parisian terrace, perfect for late afternoon drinks in the sun.

Restaurants:

  • Ristorante Nuovo Mario in Charlottenburg am Kurfürstendamm. White tablecloths, fresh vegetable decorations, great wines, best food, good authentic Italian service.
  • Sets. Breakfast & brunch, healthy and other options
  • Big Bascha. Best & most affordable Lebanese food. Cash only. Outside terrace, free tea.

Activities:

  • Hop on Hop Off Bus
  • Fat Tire Bike Tour
  • The East Side Gallery of the Wall
  • The Story of Berlin Bunker
  • The Sanssouci gardens and palace (Potsdam)
  • The Stasi Museum
  • The Tiergarten is beautiful and a great way to spend some time outdoors. The Rose Garden is lovely.

Other Tips:

  • Book the Berlin Reichstag and Dome the moment you know your dates.
  • Use the public transportation.
    • Seconded! Use the subway and public transportation, you’ll see more. (Taxi’s are cheap.)
  • Skip the Checkpoint Charlie Museum
  • Always pay in local currency (when offered the choice to choose your own with card), stores otherwise have the ultimate freedom to apply their own (higher) exchange rates.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

Next month we'll be sharing tips for Rotterdam! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

Member Travel Tips: London

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

photo of London Bridge

This month's destination is London!

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." — Samuel Johnson

You can find so many lists of recommendations for what to see and do in London — the options are endless, and the information can be overwhelming. Here are just a few tips from your fellow members on how to make the most of your next visit. Cheers!

Lodging:

  • The Montague on the Gardens - a very nice hotel, great for special occasions. It's right by the British Museum. https://www.montaguehotel.com
  • Harlingford Hotel - Also by the British Museum, but less expensive/fewer stars. Perfectly pleasant. http://www.harlingfordhotel.com/
  • The Grosvenor Hotel - nice place, good breakfast buffet, *very* close to the Hamilton theater 🙂 https://www.guoman.com/en/london/the-grosvenor.html
  • Hotel Cafe Royal - sounds like a cafe but it was a beautiful hotel and it's a sister hotel to the Conservatorium. Very beautiful and has a spa. There is a famous tea room with a traditional English tea.
  • Chesterfield Mayfair - Very convenient location walking distance to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The Eye and the South Bank.

Restaurants:

  • You can't go wrong with any of Ottolenghi's restaurants. I've been to two: The Notting Hill location is quite small so great for takeaway salads and pastries, but the Islington location is more suitable for dinner.
  • Borough Market has endless stands and restaurants.
  • Vegan/vegetarian friendly list I've put together: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZHXoGo9dRB94n3FlOEbwSUtKkACkBSPp&usp=sharing
  • We particularly love Tibbit's, which is a buffet style, vegan/vegetarian restaurant with excellent food and drinks. It's open all day, so if you're hangry at a weird time, they will probably be able to feed you! https://www.tibits.co.uk/en/
  • Cocotte https://www.mycocotte.uk
  • https://www.cevichefamily.com/andina/andina-notting-hill 
  • There are several locations, but we went here: https://bananatree.co.uk/maida-vale/
  • Have brunch on a Sunday morning and then walk around the organic open air market: https://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/marylebonew1/
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a favorite pub of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain
  • Afternoon Tea at the Orangerie in Kensington Gardens
  • balabaya.co.uk is tucked away near Southwark Station, worth seeking out. Ottelenghi influence.
  • Arabica Bar & Kitchen in Borough Market. +442030115151 Middle Eastern, baklava to die for!
  • Tapas Mariterra, family run and authentic. 14 Gambia St. SE1 0XS +442079287628 Don’t be put off by the cafe appearance.
  • www.oystershed.co.uk on the Thames bang in the financial city.
  • Hawksmoor - turns out there are a few of these restaurants but don't worry, it's not a chain atmosphere. Food was delicious. Go for the steak -which sometimes in the Netherlands, good steak is hard to find. The mac n cheese and a yorkshire pudding. Also the caesar salad - haven't had a good one since California but this one was remarkable!
  • Eat authentic Chinese food at Lin’s, 134 Southwark St SE10SW, it looks like a cafe but is always filled with Asian business people looking for a taste of home.

Activities:

  • Hamilton!!!!
  • London Eye is great, as long as the weather is decent so you can appreciate the view.
  • Tower of London is quite interesting.
  • The Roman Temple of Mithras is an archaeological site made into a tiny, free museum.
  • Hampstead Heath park has beautiful walking paths and a great view of the city.
  • The ceremony of the keys: You need to book well in advance: https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/whats-on/ceremony-of-the-keys/#gs.bl8scu
  • Visit bookstores: Daunt's https://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/
  • Artsy movies: https://www.everymancinema.com/ or https://www.picturehouses.com/cinemas
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, look at what is on for the special exhibits.
  • Tate Modern
  • While in the neighborhood of the above places visit the Tate Modern, walk along the river and see the Globe. Maybe you’ll even find the original location of the original one that was moved! Walk across the Millennium Bridge and admire the art painted on discarded chewing gum on the floor.
  • Portobello Road Saturday flea market and wandering through the Notting Hill neighborhood
  • Spitalfields Market in East London
  • Shopping at the food and home sections of Fortnum & Mason
  • Explore Lower Marsh, just outside Waterloo Station. Weekdays lunchtime lots of food stalls.Small Independent shops.
  • Seek out The Arches, Isabella Street. South Bank. SE1 8DD, a few restaurants tucked away. Nice Turkish food at Ev. Also a Thai restaurant here. Very hidden.
  • Take a tour via uk.funzing.com called Southwark’s Saucy Secrets and discover where ladies of ill repute are buried plus lots more!
  • If you watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, you will see something from any vantage point but you will not see the guards, except for the tops of their heads unless you are up close at the gate of Buckingham Palace. We could only see the top of the guards' fuzzy hats from where we were standing.
  • Windsor Castle
  • Westminster Abbey - book in advance
  • Kensington Palace
  • Hyde Park
  • Afternoon Tea At Fortnum and Mason
  • Churchill’s War Rooms

Other Tips:

  • Bring good walking shoes! The tube is great, but so is soaking in the sights.
  • The CityMapper app (which is great for getting around Amsterdam!) includes London and works very well
  • If you can, avoid Heathrow. It's huge and a huge pain.
    • Second this! City and Gatwick are much smaller and easier to fly in/out.
  • You can now use your PIN pass/smart card for public transportation instead of buying and topping up an OYSTER card.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

When Tulip Talk returns in September, we'll be sharing tips for Berlin! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

Member Travel Tips: Maastricht

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is Maastricht!

Maastricht is about as far as you can get while still in the Netherlands -- and it feels completely different than Amsterdam. Instead of canals there are man-made caves and even hills. You'll hear more French and German. And there are cute restaurants everywhere you turn. It's the perfect weekend getaway.

Lodging:

  • Kruisherenhotel - 3 recommendations, including one from Rhonda Jimenez. One member said, "We stayed a couple of nights at the Kruisherenhotel in Maastricht and loved it. It is an old monastery which has been converted to a hotel and inside is a mixture of the old architecture with modern elements. It is extremely convenient (very short walk) to the shopping area and Vrijthof. Best of all, they are pet friendly. They charge a pet fee, but they give you a bed, dog bowls and a chew toy! The restaurant was amazing, as well all of the staff there. They really bent over backwards for all our requests."
  • Le Home apartment (available on Booking.com) - Rhonda Jimenez says it's "located close to station in a beautiful townhouse. We stayed with 4 people. It does have a circular staircase up to the bathroom. Walking distance to the old city center."
  • Mabi - "a cool boutique hotel" got two votes
  • Château St. Gerlach - "beautiful!"
  • This Airbnb was beautiful -- very comfortable, and the hosts were really kind and thoughtful.

Restaurants:

  • Harry's
  • Cafe Sjiek (Be prepared for a lengthy wait!)
  • Restaurant 55
  • Vino & Friends
  • Kruisherenhotel for lunch and dinner
  • Au Coin des Bons Enfants - one member "had an unforgettable dinner" there!
  • The best gelato is at Candiero on Koestraat.
  • The best fries are at Frituur Reitz on the Markt -- worth the wait.
  • Pinky's waffles are a very popular (and delicious) snack.
  • Lunch, drinks or (early) dinner at Petit Cafe Moriaan -- the smallest restaurant in Maastricht.
  • Koestraat is an adorable street packed with restaurants and outside tables. You probably can't go wrong with any of them!
  • Try the local specialty, vlaii, at Bisschopsmolen (or any other bakery).
  • For a really special dinner, try Restaurant Le Bon Vivant.

Activities:

  • Drink coffee and visit the bookstore in the old Dominican church.
  • Shopping at the boutiques in Wyck ("little Paris"), followed by an outdoor lunch on one of the terraces there.
  • Shopping in the center: Platielstraat, St. Amorsplein, Minckelersstraat & Stokstraat area.
  • Cocktails at Mr. Smith, an underground speakeasy in the Rechtstraat.
  • Take a boat tour on the Maas River.
  • Try the "excellent" free walking tour: https://citysightsmaastricht.com/ "We met in front of oldest church. It was led by a young man who was very personable and funny. We loved it!"
  • Touring the North caves at Sint-Pietersberg is fascinating! There are English 1-hour tours daily -- book ahead and be sure to bring a jacket. The recreational area is really pretty, and you can also follow hiking routes at the Dutch version of a mountain (really a plateau between rivers).
  • Maastricht also has a Christmas market: Magical Maastricht.

Other Tips:

  • "Bike ride! Bike ride to Belgium! Bike ride to wineries! Yes! Wineries. I love Maastricht. Hills bring me a fresh perspective on The NL. Need hills!"
  • "You can also do a half day trip to Liege. Practice your French :)"
  • Or, a day trip to Aachen.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

Next month, we'll be sharing tips for the beautiful city of London! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

In the Shadow of the Plane

By Lauren Mescon
With contributions from Nancy Koster Tschirhart

Hans van Arkel, the last surviving witness, remembers it like it was yesterday. A boy of 11 years old at the time, he remembers exactly where the plane went down and where the survivors fell. On July 30, 1943, Man-O-War, a B-17 filled with 10 U.S. Airmen returning from their mission, was shot down over Opijnen. Eight crewmen died and only the pilot and co-pilot survived their parachute jumps.

Mr. van Arkel says it was 9:25 a.m., 25 degrees Celsius and a beautiful summer day. He saw it all… the plane exploded and the falling wreckage looked like pieces of silver paper raining down as the bodies fell. He saw one airman crash through the roof of a barn.

The co-pilot, John Bruce, had a broken ankle and an injured shoulder and needed a doctor. The doctor turned out to be a Nazi sympathizer and alerted the Germans. The two survivors were sent to German prison camps until the war ended.

Mr. van Arkel took a gun from the wreckage and his father, afraid of the Germans finding it, buried it. Today it is in the museum in Opijnen.

This is not where the true story ends, but where it begins.  

We traveled to Opijnen to rejuvenate the long relationship between the American Women’s Club of Amsterdam and the residents of Opijnen. Fortunately, we had former AWCA President Nancy Koster-Tschirhart with us. Nancy, with the former mayor Ton Jansen and other community leaders, was instrumental in the amazing memorial that allows the memories of these brave men to live on and influence generations.

After the plane was shot down, in spite of the Germans’ prohibition against anyone attending the burial of the crew, villagers laid flowers at the graves in the middle of the night. When the war ended, the residents of Opijnen asked the families not to move their sons’ bodies to Margraten, the Dutch cemetery for more than 8,000 fallen American soldiers, nor to take them back to America, but rather to leave them where they fell, in the loving hands of the residents of Opijnen.

Opijnen was a poor farming area and one of 11 villages in the current municipality of Neerijnen. The villages are built along the dike protecting the Waal River. Unlike Amsterdam, their history is an oral history, passed on from parent to child. The community is one that most Americans know only from nostalgia, where everyone knows everyone else and celebrates and mourns life events together; where adult children live minutes away from parents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

This village has not only kept and lovingly tended the graves of the fallen Man-O-War crew, but they have also memorialized the plane in the middle of their newest residential housing development (completed in 2006). The streets bear the names of the crew. Although there are only four official streets, through the ingenuity of Nancy and the Opijnen representatives, they were able to use all 10 names of the men.

The shadow of the plane, constructed from bricks with an elevated rudder listing their names lies in the middle of the common area in the center of the homes and the streets. The common area is named McCammonplein to honor the pilot, Keene McCammon, and the main street around it is called Brucestraat, to honor the copilot, John Bruce. And those that died are there, with names like Cianfichipoort and Polingstraat.

We began our visit with coffee, tea and cakes before we visited the school where the children, ages 10-12, practiced their English with us by telling us what they knew about the plane that crashed in their village so many years ago. They know the story well because they have the benefit of Mr. van Arkel and the others who teach them what it means to their village, to honor the men who died for their freedom.

These children are proud, as they should be, of their village and they understand and are interested in their futures and from this huge example, are learning the lessons of right and wrong. As one of the residents, Bauke Algera (my translator, thank goodness) shared, these children hear about all the wars in the world and are interested in this history, their history, a time when good vs. evil was much more clear.

Our last stop was to visit the actual graves of the men. They are buried side-by-side in a beautifully kept row, with marble headstones shipped from the US and like those used at Arlington National Cemetery. Although the headstones were spotless, the Opijnen children cleaned them shortly before Remembrance Day, celebrated on May 4 in the Netherlands. May 5 is Dutch Liberation Day. What is striking about the graves is that these heroes were just entering their adulthood, most of them were 22 years old, the oldest was 28. They were from all parts of the US, from New York to North Dakota. They were younger than my own children.

But their legacy and their message live on in a wonderful way.  Mr. McCammon’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter visited Opijnen in 2007. Although Mr. Bruce passed away in 2007, two of his children and a daughter-in-law returned yet again May 4, 2010, to lay flowers at the memorial. Close friends and neighbors of the parents of airman Krueger paid their respects that day as well. In July 2015, the nephew of airman Duggan visited Amsterdam and made the trip to Opijnen, hosted by former mayor, Ton Jansen.  

On May 4, 2019, Opijnen will once again honor these men during the Remembrance Day commemoration. All AWCA members, families and friends are welcome to join the Opijnen Hervormd (Protestant) Church service from 6:45-8:15 p.m. Once again, the residents of this remarkable village will remember, as they said to us more than once, quoting John Bruce during his visits, “Freedom is not free.” These brave men died to ensure freedom, not only for Americans but for everyone.  

Please email Martha Canning if you are interested in joining the group this year. It is about 45 minutes away and we will enjoy a group dinner nearby before the commemoration. We will also be arranging for carpools. It is a special opportunity to connect with our community and represent the U.S. and honor these brave men.

AWCA Friends with Benefits

Did you know you have amazing member benefits FREE with your club membership?

Remember to refer to the benefits page on our website for the latest information and offers. Here are just a few benefits this year:

  • 10% discount at the American Book Center
  • FREE Design Consultation for SZI (with contract)
  • FREE Pilates Class with Pilates for Everybody
  • 10% discount on food, beverage and hotel rooms at the Amstel Hotel
  • FREE Hanos membership (Dutch version of Costco)

Just show your current membership card and enjoy the benefits of being a member.

And the benefits extend beyond discounts.

Did you know our club boasts an average of 30 events per month — and half of those are in the evening and on weekends? We cater to many tastes: from feeding the homeless at the DeKloof shelter to touring art exhibits with Art on the Move, to enjoying lekker dinners with Dining Divas. We have an event for everyone, at every price point, and many for your partner or families, too.

Here are some statistics:

  • Average of 30 events per month
  • Average of 12-15 events in the evening or on the weekend
  • Typically 3-4 overnights (or longer) per year
  • 10-12 events are totally FREE (General Meeting/At Night Meeting, Book Club, Lunch Bunch, Pokeno and more)

Did you know you can even plan your own events?

We are a volunteer organization, and we love it when members share a great idea or excursion. You can check the calendar on the website for free days, and then fill out this form to plan your activity. Once it’s approved, our team will post the event on the calendar. Don’t forget to publicize and market your event to our members!

Being a member comes with so many great benefits. You have joined an amazing group of women who are here for you when you need a friend, a travel buddy to explore with, a shoulder to cry on, or a friend to visit you when you are feeling ill. We are more than a club, we are a village — your home away from home.

photo of boats on a canal on King's Day with exuberant orange confetti in the air

Going Dutch: A Guide to Koningsdag (King’s Day)

By Rhonda Jimenez

April 27 is King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. That means in in the Netherlands, Koningsdag (or King’s Day) is a celebration and a giant party. The entire city turns orange in his honor. (He is a descendant of the House of Orange-Nassau.) People dye their hair orange, dye their dogs orange, wear orange three-piece suits, drink orange beverages and eat orange bonbons.

Start collecting your orange gear now as it sells out quickly! Try Hema, AH and Witbaard Feestartikelen in de Pijp for your giant orange sunglasses, hats, leis and boas. Also, remember Koningsdag can be freezing — a winter coat, gloves and hat might be needed, or perhaps you should wear a sundress and shorts. You never know.

Don't be afraid to wear your best outfits!

This is truly my favorite Dutch holiday. I love it because young and old celebrate it with unbridled passion.

What to do on Koningsdag?

We have a sloop, so we love to experience the nuttiness of the canals. It is like bumper boats with alcohol and almost no water. If you don’t have a boat, stand on a canal and watch the insanity. If you do venture out on a rental or your own sloop, check waternet.nl (they also have an app) for routes. The city creates a traffic system to manage the flow of boats. They now have water-based waste stations throughout for trash collection and potty breaks. Well done, City of Amsterdam!

Our boat with the signature cocktail the orange Aperol Spritz

If you have kids: Vondelpark turns into a giant kids’ yard sale. All used toys are recycled on the cheap, so it is fun to see what your kids can buy with €2. If you have things to sell, you can actually set up a table on the sidewalk and let your kids raise some cash. For just one day, it is legal to sell almost anything anywhere and everywhere. The park is just one of the popular places for kids to set up games. “Give me a euro and you can throw eggs at my face.” My son spent €10 at that game. There are games of skill where you have to smash a rolling tomato or water balloon toss. Some kids sing. Some kids dance. Others perform skits or music. Last year our VP Christine Collins’ daughter earned €300 singing with a friend. This is a fun place to go or take part in the money-making. No joke, the egg-faced kid made hundreds.

Like to shop? Head to the ritzy parts of town like Apollolaan, Beethovenstraat or the canal houses for designer bags, jewelry and clothing. This is a bonus, as it is very green to recycle clothing and wear something that isn't from Zara or Mango.

Like to eat? Anywhere you go, the free-market concept is set-up to relieve you of any extra cash. Pop-ups from restaurants sell food; kids sell (home-made) cookies and cakes; even Auntie Antje will sell soup from her window. Food is everywhere. (And just as important if not even more so: People even will allow you to use their toilet for a fee.)

Join us for a bake sale! We'll raise money for Safe Spaces at a bake sale on Apollolaan, near the Hilton. Would you like to help by baking or selling during a two-hour shift? Find more information and sign-up sheets on this post on our members Facebook page.

Like to party? The party actually begins on Koningsnacht, which is the night before Koningsdag. Do not miss it. Head to Rembrandtplein where bands and strange polka music take over. Caution: don’t get crazy on this night because tomorrow is another day of drinking. Pace yourself.

Koningsnacht at Rembrandt Square

Then on Koningsdag, head to Dam Square or any of the massive music festivals dotted around the city. In the Dam, you will find thousands of orange friends dressed in anything you can (or can’t) imagine. Music, events and mayhem, guaranteed.

It's one day only: As the day winds down, around 4:30 p.m. the city becomes a ghost town. A really dirty ghost town left with the remnants of an awesome party. Discarded treasures, beer bottles, orange boas and other things not to be mentioned are found on the streets and sidewalks. Don’t fret because the city is prepared. Cleaning crews dispatch and the city will be clean again by morning.

To the Dutch, Koningsdag is not a celebration of the royal family or even a holiday that celebrates the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is about community. The free-market, food and revelry are designed to encourage the citizens to go out and meet their neighbors. By purchasing a trinket, a treat or playing a game, they come together and celebrate being Dutch!

Happy Koningsdag!

Member Travel Tips: Copenhagen

 

 

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is Copenhagen!

Lodging:

Restaurants:

Activities:

  • The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. A very interesting and well-done museum where we learned more about the Vikings (and maybe they were not as violent as portrayed but definitely fierce). And the cafe there serves a modern take using only foods of the Viking Age!
  • Climb to the top of the bell tower at Church of Our Saviour for the best view of Copenhagen. (It's so cool because the steps are on the outside of the spire. It was even on the Amazing Race.)
  • Tivoli Gardens - European amusement park and really fun. Be aware it's not open all 12 months! Check the dates before you make plans.
  • Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek - - an art museum housed in a gorgeous space. Lots of sculpture, some mummies and other ancient stuff, and small but really nice collection of French masterpieces and paintings from the Danish Golden Age. I imagine the King's Garden (Kongens Have) will be especially lovely in the summer! Or slightly later in the spring when things are blooming.
  • The Nyhavn neighbourhood looks like Amsterdam with pretty canal homes.
  • Rosenborg Castle.
  • Little Mermaid Statue. I guess it's a must-see but it's a bit underwhelming.
  • Walk or run along the water on the boardwalk. It’s near the Marriott. Fun outdoor exercise option.
  • First time we went we did a canal cruise, which is a good way to see some of the city.
  • AC Perch’s Thehandel is an old tea shop. So many options and some tasty tea!

Other Tips:

  • One of my favorite cities. Pretty, charming, clean, friendly people, good shopping, and great food!
  • We spent most of our time walking around, enjoying seeing the city. It's very walkable, but a canal tour is worthwhile when you're ready for a break!
  • It was pretty easy to take the train from the airport to the central station. There's a bank of ticket kiosks in Terminal 3, you can choose English on the machine, and there are people to help if you get confused. Uber doesn't operate in Copenhagen, but there are taxis if you need. The Copenhagen airport was actually really nice — definitely one of the quietest I've ever been in. We got to the airport a bit early for our flight home, and it was a pleasant place to relax and have a drink. There are also lots of stores there if you want to grab something on your way home (and don't want to schlep it around the city with you).

Do you have tips you'd like to add? On our members only Facebook page, there's a lively conversation!

Next month, we'll be sharing tips for the beautiful city of Maastricht! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

photo of Venice canal with a gondola in the middle and houses lining the sides.

Member Travel Tips: Venice

photo of Venice canal with a gondola in the middle and houses lining the sides

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is Venice!

 

Lodging:

  • Hotel Amadeus - near the train station, about a 30 minute walk to St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco)
  • Hotel Paganelli - "Great views, reasonable, and 5 minutes to St. Mark's Square"
  • Hotel Agli Alboretti - "There's a classic wine bar right nearby"
  • Another member suggested: "Try Airbnb for something central and authentic, but it's easy to stay in Mestre too. Mestre is like Buitenveldert to Amsterdam."

Restaurants:

Activities:

  • One member suggested taking a gondola rowing lesson and said, "it was a hit with the kids."
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • An Interpreti Veneziani concert - "The cellist is amazing! They perform in a lovely old church close to the Academia bridge. I've seen them several times. The first time I had my (then) teenage children with me. They loved it too."
  • Take the ferry to Burano island. "Great atmosphere and cute shops."
  • Pay the €6 per person (plus expensive coffee) to sit at St. Mark's Square and listen to music.

Other Tips:

  • Try to get a little lost and you will find wonderful things!
  • Drink your coffees and wine at the bar and not sitting down to save some money.
  • Check out "the area around Campo Santa Margarita. It's usually pretty lively and kind of a young crowd."
  • Another idea: "it's really fun to buy vino 'alla spina,' which is straight from a tap into a glass or plastic bottle. The wine isn't necessarily that great, but I love the idea that it's like buying the local beer in Germany or such."
  • "It's expensive, but if you are flying into Marco Polo, it is a fabulous experience to hire a private boat/taxi to take you to Venice proper (also a lot faster)."
  • Do you have tips you'd like to add? On our member's only Facebook page, there's a lively conversation! Comments about Venice can go here.

Next month, we'll be sharing tips for the beautiful city of Copenhagen! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.

5 Self-Improvement Tasks You’re Doing that Make Your Life Worse

By Claire Fitzpatrick, D.C.

The things that we do every day – especially the little things – have the most impact on our lives.  

Conversely, little life tweaks can dramatically screw us up, too.

Here are 5 things you may be doing to improve your life that are making your life worse:

1. Trading sleep for productivity

I know you have a ton of things that you do every day. When you get home, it feels like a treat if you stay up one extra hour to watch Netflix.   

Skimping on sleep diminishes your health, productivity and state of mind (irritability, anxiety and feelings of loss and sadness without a specific reason). Going to bed on time and treating yourself to a nap when your body’s craving for one, by contrast, naturally improves performance, energy and mood.

Do you want your life to become unbearable? Me neither. Get your 7 ½ - 8 hours of sleep a night.  

2. Skipping your workout

So, you took my advice and now you don’t have time to work out because you got that extra hour of sleep.

Nope. You don’t get out of it that easily.

Working out is an investment. You should invest at least 4 times a week doing a combination of weight-bearing and aerobic exercise. You will find that the health and energy benefits actually FURTHER increase your productivity and effectiveness! You trade time for efficiency.  Now you have more time to do the things you love to do because you’re more effective – and healthy to boot!

3. Skipping stretching

You’re at the gym (or biking or running). Good for you! The hardest part about working out is actually getting there. So, pat yourself on the back for that success.

But, oh no! You only have a half hour to spend!  So, you think you could skip the stretching, or better yet, you’ll “do-it-later,” because you can stretch anytime.

First of all, you probably won’t stretch later.

Second, your muscles, tendons, and nervous system need oxygen to perform properly. When you work out without conditioning your joints and muscles, you risk injury (sometimes serious injury), and your workout is much less effective.

Do dynamic stretches in the beginning and static stretches at the end. Or make these your priority, and make sure you make time for both stretching and working out next time.

4. Taking a multi-vitamin

What? Of course, you should take vitamins, you say!  You pop that pill you got from Etos or Kruidvat every morning! Everyone knows you should take your vitamins.

Well, yes and no.

When it comes to nutrition, quality is everything.  The all-purpose, biggest-bang-for-your-buck brand of vitamin may actually strip your system of nutrients it already has, or heaven forbid, actually can hurt your cardiovascular system. Is your pee a crazy shade of neon yellow after you take your vitamin?  Do your skin and breath smell like chalk? Do you have diarrhea after taking your vitamins? Or constipation?

Our bodies are all different. What may work for one person may be harmful to another. It’s just more complicated than taking a big-box vitamin pill.

Talk with me (or someone else with advanced training in nutrition and functional medicine) about what’s right for you. If you’re a DIY kind of person, at least stick to organic, whole-food supplements. For instance, drink greens in the morning and reds at dinnertime.

5. Not stopping until the job is done

I’m guilty of this too. “When I've finished this, I'll get up.”

So, you sit in that chair for 8-12 hours cranking out the work, only stopping for a bathroom break when your bowels and bladder won’t take it anymore.  Or, you tackle your housecleaning or yard work like a fanatic, from dawn until dusk, without stopping, stretching, or taking a walk to take in the day.

You’re wrecking your body and your mind.

We all need breaks (see the sleep section). Our brains work best when we “clear the cache” and get some quality movement time going. Even if you have to set an egg timer (look how old I am) or your phone alarm to go off every 15-20 minutes, get up, stretch, move around. And every 1 1/2 hours or so, move on to something else. Come back to it in a rotation.

And for goodness sake, get out the door and take in some life, will you? Look at those canals and those wobbly houses! Why are you here in Amsterdam if you don’t get out and take a stroll every day?

Take the little things you do every day to “improve your life” and switch them out for quality time. I promise you, you’ll yield more time, accomplishment and quality of life than you would have. You’ll be shocked.

Is it All in Your Head? A Case to Get Your Cranium (and Spine) Checked

By Claire Fitzpatrick, D.C.

Do you or someone you know suffer from fatigue, confusion, attention disorders, movement disorders or neurological dysfunction? How about hormonal imbalance, mood swings, and global aches and pains? In addition to seeking medical help, it would be a good idea to get your cranial and spinal integrity checked.

You’ve likely heard this at some time in your life: “My doctor told me it’s all in my head…” Whether she knew it or not, she may be right – but not in the way she may think.

Chiropractors are known for their ability to address vertebral integrity.  However, many do not know that cranial, as well as vertebral, integrity is of the utmost importance for the body to regulate nourishment to the brain and spinal cord and excrete waste products into the vestibular and lymphatic system for elimination. It is not an area of study that is widely explored in general medicine; however, doctors of chiropractic are highly educated and well-versed in this area.

In fact, the more you know about cranial integrity and a person’s ability to thrive, the more you may wish to consult with an expert as a standard of care for you and your family.

Here’s a quick primer:

The skull is made up of two sets of bones - the bones of your face and the bones of your cranium, which make up your forehead and the back of your head.  There are 22 bones in total. The mandible (jawbone) is the only movable bone of the skull. The other bones are connected by fixed joints called sutures.

When the sutures along the cranium are out of alignment, as when spinal vertebrae are out of alignment, it is impossible for us to experience optimal health and wellbeing because the dura mater (the tough covering of connective tissue that attaches to the interior of the cranium) gets twisted.

Picture when you twist a water balloon, how the flow of the water is out of balance and presses more on different parts of the sides. It’s the same with the dura.

Cerebrospinal fluid is the nourishing fluid in which the brain and spinal cord float within the dura. When the flow of nourishment in and out, and indeed the pressure of the fluid itself, is uneven and out of balance, waste can get trapped inside and the brain itself is subjected to uneven pressure. As you may imagine, this isn’t good.

For instance, it is impossible to have a fully-functioning hormonal system when stress exists in the brain – which contains and regulates hormones at the highest level – when your cranium has subtle distortions that limit the movement of cerebrospinal fluid in and out of the head and along the spinal cord.

Cranial and spinal distortions can be assessed and adjusted by your chiropractor. Cranial distortions can be similarly addressed by other highly-educated, licensed health practitioners who specialize in craniosacral therapy. The good news is that addressing these distortions usually creates a change that can be felt immediately in most people.

During an assessment of the cranium and spinal alignment, in addition to the position of the cranial sutures, your vertebrae, your sacrum and pelvis, your chiropractor will also assess:

Eye Position – while a certain amount of asymmetry is normal, if there is a very noticeable difference between the action and the position of the eyes, this could be an indication of cranial dysfunction.

Mandible – she will observe whether the jaw is even on both sides, or if one side appears more compressed than the other.

Ears – if the ears are the same height, or whether one is further front or back from the other

Shoulders – if one shoulder is higher than the other.

Leg Length – if one leg appears shorter than another, but corrects when adjusted

Your Gut – whether there is tension in your belly, and if it is from an uneven pull from the fascia surrounding your gut organs

There is promising research coming out suggesting that correcting cranial and spinal distortions can help ear infections, learning impairment, support healthy blood flow in and out of the brain, and improve nitric oxide production. Research also shows that it can improve the autonomic nervous system function and heart rate variability.

In an age of endless blood tests and impersonal doctor office visits, it’s important to remember that there are doctors who actually put their hands on you to see what’s going on; who can help your body adjust naturally without the use of drugs and surgery; and who you can build a relationship with for you and your family. It behooves you to make trips to a physician well-versed in bodywork as part of your primary health care team.

I Feel So Guilty

by Phyllis Larkin, Psy.D
Geriatric and Family Psychologist
XPATSIA.com

Many of those caring for a loved one from abroad feel guilty. Should we?

Let’s take a closer look at this powerful, and misunderstood, emotion in relation to our aging loved ones.

Guilt | Definition by Merriam-Webster
1: responsibility for having done something wrong and especially something against the law. He admitted his guilt.

2:  a feeling of shame or regret as a result of bad conduct. Other Words from guilt. guiltless \ -​ləs \ adjective.

According to Webster, one must have committed an offense. This results in guilt,  the appropriate reaction. Guilt generates feelings of regret for doing wrong. The guilt reaction calls us to change our behavior and make things right with those we have harmed.  

So what have we done wrong?

Most caregivers feel there is “always more” that they can or “should” be doing to make their loved ones lives nicer, easier or more pleasant. “Should” is the problem here. “Should” implies the expectation that you can do all the things others want, regardless of the impact on your life, health, finances or living conditions. Guilt often comes when we can’t meet an “expectation,” yet feel obligated to meet the expectation anyway. Guilt tells you that you “should” be able to meet the expectation even if the demands are unreasonable or unfeasible. But are you guilty? Or are you being harsh with yourself? Let's ask some basic questions about your expectations for yourself:

  • What can you do from abroad?  
  • What is reasonable?  
  • What is appropriate?  

I would encourage you to answer these questions as if you were judging a respected friend or family member.  

  • Would you expect anyone else to meet the obligation given the circumstances?
  • Are you being asked to sacrifice your financial security? Can you afford to contribute to your loved one’s expenses? If you can, how much?  
  • Are you capable of the tasks being requested? Driving to medical appointments is impossible. Reviewing household bills is possible if you are given access via websites or PDF files.  
  • Are resentment or anger preventing you from meeting responsibilities you are capable of? Then you may be feeling appropriate guilt that demands changes to your behavior.
  • Are you breaking laws? Then you are truly guilty and the feeling is congruent with your behavior.
  • Are you feeling irresponsible, even though you are meeting your commitments and doing the best you can? Then the feeling of guilt is unwarranted and needs to be examined. Replace the guilt with an appropriate feeling. You might feel sadness at your loved one's decline, anger that things haven’t gone as you would have liked or grief at the loss of connection due to living abroad.

Healthy guilt is warranted when we have acted immorally, unlawfully, or disrespectfully.

It calls us to change our behavior and results in self-improvement.

Unwarranted guilt is counterproductive. It generates feelings of worthlessness and remorse for responsibilities that are out of our control or our ability to meet them.  Unwarranted guilt does not improve anyone's lives. It just makes us feel bad about ourselves. We feel helpless to change our behavior and this prevents us from doing what we can for those we love.

This prayer can help us decide what we can do and what we can’t:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

— American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971)