Dutch Ambassador Renée Jones-Bos at UNC in Chapel Hill, NC


The Dutch Ambassador to the United States, Renée Jones-Bos, spoke yesterday at UNC's School of Law in Chapel Hill, NC.

A visit to the Tarheel state

The event was part of a two-day visit to North Carolina. On Monday she was in Greenville, NC at Dutch pharmaceutical company DSM, which has nearly 1,200 employees in the state. Says Jones-Bos: "Over 22,000 American jobs in North Carolina are supported by Dutch-American trade and investment. In fact, the Netherlands is the 6th largest foreign investor in the state."

Human rights and international law

The ambassador's speech was introduced by Jack Boger, Dean of the UNC School of Law: "This a great opportunity for students because it’s clear that the world is becoming more international", he said.

In her speech ambassador Jones-Bos explained the position of the Netherlands on human rights and international law. Prior to her appointment to Washington, Ms. Jones-Bos served as Ambassador-at-Large for Human Rights, and she is clearly passionate about the topic. The ambassador mentioned the historic ties between USA and the Netherlands that date back 400 years.

About 35 students and faculty attended the meeting. The UNC School of Law has an exchange program with Radboud University in Nijmegen. Several students from the Netherlands were in attendance.

In the Q&A session students asked several questions about the Netherlands and international law, for example about the experiences of the Netherlands in hosting the International Criminal Court.

After the visit to UNC Ms Jones-Bos attended a performance by the Nederlands Dans Theater at the Carolina Performing Arts Center, the only eastern United States performance of this renowned Dance Group.

Winter in Wartime (Oorlogswinter) now in U.S. theaters


Correspondent Yolanda Gerritsen saw a preview of the U.S. premiere of Winter in Wartime (Oorlogswinter), after the book by Dutch author Jan Terlouw.

The final months of the German occupation in a small Dutch village are the backdrop to the events in the movie Winter in Wartime. A wonderful film by director Martin Koolhoven, Winter in Wartime is both a thrilling action movie and a coming-of-age story for the main character, young Michiel van Beusekom, the son of the mayor of this small village, which is located close to Zwolle in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. It’s mainly through his eyes that we see the events evolve in the course of the movie.

In the opening scene Michiel watches through an opening in the frost on his bedroom window how a burning plane leaves fiery traces in the night sky. When Michiel and his best friend find the wreckage of this British plane the next day and retrieve a few mementos, the Germans discover them. The chase through the woods is a thrilling adventure, all just fun and games for the boys, as they escape from the bad guys and make their way home.

Michiel is annoyed by how his father, the mayor, deals with the Germans. He feels his father is not tough enough and makes too many compromises with the enemy. So he looks up to his uncle Ben, a member of the underground resistance and a real hero in his eyes. Michiel would like to help the underground resistance, but his uncle Ben sternly warns him to never get involved.

When Dirk, his neighbor, asks him to deliver a letter to the blacksmith in case he shouldn’t return from an attack on a German ammunition depot, he finally feels taken seriously and is excited to be involved in something important.
But before he has a chance to deliver the letter, Michiel can only watch as the Germans drag the blacksmith from his shop and shoot him in the street. He is on his own now and it dawns on him that his adventure may be more than he bargained for.

The letter contains a map of a location in the woods. When Michiel investigates, he finds Jack, the English pilot who has survived the crash, but who is injured. A member of the resistance was to take him across the river to a contact in Zwolle. Jack swears him to secrecy and Michiel has to figure out how to keep him alive and get him to Zwolle.

In the ensuing events, Michiel learns the hard way that people around him are not what they seem and that war is not child’s play, but a deadly serious business. In the course of his heroic attempts to get Jack to safety, Michiel is confronted with unbearable personal losses that change him forever. When Jack finally manages to cross the bridge over the IJssel River to Zwolle, 14-year old Michiel has learned life lessons that have made him wise beyond his years.

Winter in Wartime is a fast-paced movie, filled with many unexpected twists and turns that keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Young Martijn Lakemeier, who had never done any serious acting before, heads an excellent cast. Director Martin Koolhoven lets the story unfold through the events as witnessed and experienced by Michiel as he valiantly tries to live up to the responsibility he inadvertently stumbled into.

The movie can now be seen in New York City and Los Angeles and in other cities from March 25th; see their website for a complete list. Highly recommended.

Winter in Wartime
Directed by Martin Koolhoven

D.C. United to host AFC Ajax in international friendly


Soccer club D.C. United announced that the club will play an international friendly against legendary Dutch Eredivisie side AFC Ajax on Sunday, May 22 at RFK Stadium. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs from Washington, DC and Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

AFC Ajax played in the RFK Stadium once before, in a 1-1 draw against the U.S. Men’s National Team on May 12, 1990.

“We’re excited to kick off our 2011 schedule of international games with one of the most honored teams in European soccer, Ajax of Amsterdam,” said United President and CEO Kevin Payne. “This match will be the first of several matches this season featuring top quality European opponents and we’re pleased that our season ticket holders will have the opportunity to attend each of these matches as a part of their package.”

“We are truly honored to be coming to the US and playing the most storied franchise in MLS history,” said Ajax manager Frank de Boer. “We are fully aware of the passionate D.C. United fans and we look forward to show casing our unique brand of Ajax football as we visit the States for the first time in many years.”

Update: AFC Ajax will also play the Portland Timbers in Portland, OR on May 25. More info here (Thank you, Dutch Seattle.com).

D.C. United vs. AFC Ajax
RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
Sunday, May 22. Kick-off is set for 5:00 p.m. ET.

Amsterdam Stories USA, a road movie through 16 Amsterdams


Amsterdam Stories USA is a road movie in the making by Dutch filmmakers Rob Rombout and Rogier van Eck. The documentary is a portrayal of small-town America that follows the Dutch migratory flow through 16 North American towns, all named Amsterdam.

The filmmakers are making four visits to the States, each in a different season. They are now on their winter trip to "Amsterdams" in Montana, Idaho and California. The 4.5 hour documentary is expected to be released in mid 2012.

Visits to Amsterdam, USA

We caught up with the filmmakers while they were in Nevada. So far, they have visited about half of the 16 Amsterdams they plan to visit. They are on their way to California: "We're meeting standup comedian Sven Amsterdam there, in an Amsterdam bar", says Rombout.

Rombout: "Before we arrive, we try to find a local radio station in the town where we'll work. It gets you introduced to the city, and people start hearing your name. In general, we stick with the local media: local papers, local radios. 'Amsterdam Stories USA' a sort of passport for us. We don't have to go through the whole introduction phase when people know that we are working on this project."

"Everywhere we go, people will at first ask: 'Why film here? There is nothing to film here!' But after a few days stories always come up. We usually focus on one or two characters in each town." Van Eck: "We'll stay four or five days in every place we visit; the rest of time we're on the road. During our travels between Amsterdams we also make portraits of people we meet."

"We're now in the second part of our trip. In our first trip we visited the North East, from Upstate New York to Virginia. Now we're doing the West Coast."

Not looking for clichés

"We're not looking for Dutch clichés like tulips and wooden shoes. The movie is a road movie, with stories of Amsterdam in the USA as a connecting element", explains Rombout. "The only real nostalgic Dutch part will be the beginning of the film, which we shot in the Holland Society of New York."

"It's a trip through the lesser-known America; off the beaten track. We're looking for the interesting, the unusual. The unpredictable is interesting!"

"In this way, our film has a different perspective than a book like 'Holland, USA', which was explicitly looking for Dutch roots in the United States. Film is more emotional than a book, and we tend to focus more on individuals rather than groups. It's a radiography of the small-town America, a road trip through the unknown America."


Rombout: "The most 'Dutch' Amsterdam we have been so far was in Montana. Many of the founders there were immigrants from Friesland and Groningen. It was a closed, isolated community. The original settlers were deeply religious people.

"I've made several movies about sailing, I like to think of live these little places like on a ship: isolated and far away from everybody. The smaller a place is, the better material for a film it becomes."

Along their journey they stopped in Great Falls, Montana where they met a 19-year-old girl who was working as a barista and talked about her difficult economic situation since the crisis. They filmed her outside in the falling snow as she described her dream of going to Africa to help the people there.

"Our favorite Amsterdam? That would be Amsterdam, Ohio. Number two Montana, or perhaps the one in Idaho. We were there in the middle of the winter — very desolate."

"About 15 people live in Amsterdam, Indiana. When we interviewed the mayor, he got visibly angry about 'those people!' It turned out that he was the only one in the village who participated in the 2010 Census. The official registration of the town was thus 1 person, so now there was no funding."

"This is typical, I think. People in small villages, with a conservative-anarchistic mindset: 'we'll take care of ourselves'. Our movie starts at the East Coast, which is of course more densely populated, and where you'll find the 'human aspect' of things. It ends in the wide open landscapes of the American west."

Movie production

Rombout and Van Eck both live in Brussels, Belgium, and speak French together as Van Eck is born in Paris (from Dutch parents) and speaks better French. They've produced movies in Belgium for almost 30 years. "The Belgian TV and a French film fund are financing us. We didn't get any response from the Netherlands. Perhaps they feel it's a little embarrassing?" They travel through the States with Collin Bannon and Trevor Cohen.

The film will be broadcast on several TV stations back home and on film festivals. Says Rombout: "We're hoping that perhaps we can get the film on PBS in the United States. In addition, we hope to create five or six screenings in or around some of the community's where we've been. We hope that our movie will create some sort of connection between these places."

"The film will be ready in middle of 2012; we're now working on a trial version. We initially signed for a movie of 140 minutes, but we think we'll actually create a film of four to five hours."

The film is part of a trilogy. Rogier and Rob produced "Amsterdam via Amsterdam", to critical acclaim. After 2012, they plan "Amsterdam, Black and White", about New Amsterdam in Drenthe, the Netherlands and Amsterdam in Transvaal (South Africa).


Dutch-American ties support more than 700,000 American jobs


Economic ties with the Netherlands support more than 700,000 American jobs, according to a new report by the Royal Dutch Embassy. Trade and investment between the USA and the Netherlands pay dividends in imports, exports and job creation in both countries.

The Dutch are the third largest investor ($238 billion) in the United States, after the United Kingdom and Japan. In turn, the USA is the largest foreign investor in the Netherlands, with investments of $472 billion. Using data derived from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau, the report calculates that exports to the Netherlands and investment by Dutch companies such as AkzoNobel, Heineken, ING, Philips, Randstad, Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever supported more than 704,000 jobs in the United States from 2008-2009.

A state-by-state-breakdown of Dutch investments and trade

The report provides a state-by-state breakdown of Dutch foreign direct investments and trade with the Netherlands. The three states benefiting the most from this economic relationship are Texas, California and Massachusetts. The report includes a clickable map of the United States with state specific information on Dutch investment and trade.

Dutch Ambassador Renée Jones-Bos: "The report makes clear that many American jobs are the result of trade and foreign investment. While not underestimating the importance of emerging markets, this report shows how important existing economic ties are and continue to be for growth and recovery. Our strong economic bond has been forged by four centuries of shared ideals, business values and a commitment to entrepreneurism."

A Heineken representative in the USA added, "The United States has been an important export market for Heineken since the repeal of Prohibition", stated Dan Tearno, Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Relations Officer for Heineken USA. "The company’s United States presence is a significant part of its history, its heritage and its success".

AkzoNobel also noted its commitment to the U.S. "A strong, vibrant relationship between the Netherlands and United States has - and will continue to be - vital to the long term success of our company," said Erik Bouts - managing director of AkzoNobel's U.S. Paints Business. "As the world's largest paints and coatings company, our U.S. interests are significant in terms of revenue generation, employee base and AkzoNobel shareholders. And recent announcements like becoming the primary paint supplier to Walmart's 3,500 U.S. stores with the Glidden brand provide not only near-term job creation, but more broadly, evidence that AkzoNobel has a bright future in the U.S."

Texas, California and Massachusetts benefiting the most from Dutch-American economic ties

Economic Ties between the USA and the Netherlands reveals interesting data on the role of the Netherlands as a contributor to the economic engine of every state. For example, while New York City ranks fifth for jobs supported by Dutch industry and exports to the Netherlands, it’s in first place of the American cities that trade with the Netherlands.

In Texas, Dutch foreign direct investment and Texas' exports to the Netherlands supported 100,062 jobs from 2008-2009. The more than 60,000 jobs supported in California are part of the Dutch foreign direct investments in the state that account for $5.8 billion or 5.3% of total FDI to California. The Netherlands are the fifth largest investor in California. Dutch ties support 51,410 jobs in Massachusetts, which is equal to 8% of the population of Boston. Massachusetts received $3 billion in Dutch foreign direct investments, which comprised 11.6% of total FDI to the state.

Economic Ties between the USA and the Netherlands: Allies in Open Markets for Mutual Prosperity
A report by the Royal Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C.

At the USA -- experiences of a Dutch immigrant in North Carolina


Editor's note: the book reviewed here is written by a contributor to this website.

"At the USA" is a book by Petra Glorie, who documents her experiences as a recent Dutch immigrant to North Carolina. It is the result of a blog she started just before moving to the States and covers about four years. In a humorous and down-to-earth tone the book, written in Dutch, gives an insight in some of the subtle but important differences between the Netherlands and the USA.

Dutch in North Carolina

The book starts with Petra and Ron having arrived in the States, looking for a house in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina. Petra: "I started my blog in 2005, with our preparations for moving to the States. I wanted a way to stay in touch with my friends and family at home. The book picks up from the moment we arrived in the States."

The book describes Petra's everyday life in NC and her adjustment to new habits and lifestyle. For example, when Petra and Ron decided to build a brick path in their backyard, the folks at the local Lowe's were amazed that they were doing this themselves. Petra and Ron on their end, were almost intimidated by the level of service they received in the store, from the advice to the help with loading of their car with the bricks -- "We were smiling and couldn't possibly picture this great service at the Gamma store in the Netherlands..."

A recurring and funny theme are Petra's experiences at the DMV. Somehow, Petra ends up in many hilarious situations, which makes the book very entertaining (for example, the chapter on the escaped sheep). Her two dogs Connor and Stacey are main characters in many chapters.

For Petra, one of the highlights of the book is President Obama's visit to North Carolina. Says Petra: "He came to Raleigh a few days before he became President, and we went to see him. It really struck me then that I was in the States. In the Netherlands the American President was always very far, and now we saw him in real life!"

From blog to book

Petra says that the idea to make a book really came from her readers. "They encouraged me to write a book of our experiences".

"I started working on it in August 2009. It took me 18 months to make a selection of my blog posts for the book, and to rewrite them for publication." Her husband Ron adds: "She went through all 1250 articles, and carefully selected them. Only 106 articles made it in the book; that selection took a long time."

"At the USA"
Author: Petra Glorie
ISBN: 978-90-816629-1-8
229 pages, paperback. Written in Dutch.

The Long Way Home -- LA Times on Dutch-Indonesians


Since the 1950's, tens of thousands Dutch-Indonesians emigrated to the United States from the Netherlands. The majority moved to Southern California and Los Angeles is now home to the largest Dutch Indo community, with some 100,000 people.

This weekend the Los Angeles Times writes about the Dutch-Indonesian community:

The California dream represented a myriad of personal and professional opportunities for the Indo diaspora. More than a few followed family and friends who had already arrived on the West Coast. Some traveled coach across America in bumpy railcars from the East Coast, tired of the same chilly climate they’d so disliked in the Netherlands. For a few, collecting fan cards of favorite actors and memorizing lyrics to big-band songbooks had made the Golden State a beacon since childhood. And for all practical purposes, it was a logical choice: The postwar economy boomed, jobs and housing were plentiful, schools were good and, much like in Indonesia, the weather was glorious year-round. They may have longed for home, but they knew they could belong here.

The article mentions the Indo Project, an English-language resource for Dutch-Indonesians in the U.S.:

Bianca Dias-Halpert, who was born in the Netherlands and raised in the U.S., has spearheaded the Indo Project, one of the few English-language cultural resources. “The Indo Project has been a work in progress since 2005,” she says. “There’s a wealth of information about us in Dutch, and the community in the Netherlands is well connected, but there’s almost nothing here. After a visit back to Holland, I saw how disconnected we were from our culture.”

LA Times: The Long Way Home.

Dubbel Dutch in Denver, Colorado


Dubbel Dutch is a Dutch store and lunch place in an eclectic neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. A bright orange storefront tells you that you have found a piece of Holland.

"I started Orangepackage.com, an online Dutch store, ten years ago", says Eef Tulp, the owner. "I came to the United States with Hewlett-Packard, where I worked as a marketing program manager. Orangepackage.com started in my basement, and I shipped packages with Dutch food from there. Business started to increase, and I noticed that a lot of customers would come visit me in that basement. So, three years later I opened my store."

The store is small but cozy, with five seats inside and some outdoor seats. The left wall is occupied by large shelves full with Dutch products and behind the lunch counter you'll find Eef, or one of the other Dutch ladies who work in the store.

Dubbel Dutch is located near Rigers University and is a popular destination for lunch. "It's about half-half -- we get local customers who come here for our sandwiches as well as Dutch folks from the entire region", says Eef.

Dubbel Dutch attracts has won several awards for its sandwiches, such as Best Sandwich of Denver. Of special note is the Old Amsterdam sandwich -- it's a delicious "broodje gezond" on a fresh baguette with Old Amsterdam cheese. A big part of the success of the sandwich store is the bread which is super fresh and delivered daily by a European bakery. Dubbel Dutch serves Douwe Egberts roast coffee .

The store serves as a hub for the Dutch community in Denver. "We organized a big New Year's celebration last week", says Eef, "with oliebollen and a large crowd of Dutch people. It was a lot of fun". The New Year's celebration at Dubbel Dutch is a tradition. "We have a good relationship with the Dutch clubs in the area, and we coordinate the events so there's no duplication. They organize the Sinterklaas celebration for example, and we do the New Year's oliebollen party."

Dutch items available in Dubbel Dutch include speculoos, Heinz sandwich spread, van Gilze stroop, mixes for Dutch pancakes and poffertjes, anijsblokjes, Dutch mustards, Maggi and Conimex products and many more. The store carries multiple types of stroopwafels, windmill cookies and liquorice. The cheese cooler is filled with various cheeses and some meats. Bitterballen and kroketten are available as well.

Dubbel Dutch
4970 Lowell Boulevard
(303) 480 9100

"Three Centuries on the Hudson River"


"Three Centuries on the Hudson River" is a book about Hoogebergh, a 1696 family homestead in upstate New York, and the eleven generations of the Staats family who have lived there.

The field-stone house was built on land deeded by Killaen Van Rensselaer to Joachim Staats whose father, Abraham Staats (born 1617, died 1694), came to America from the Netherlands in 1624. It is located on the east bank of the Hudson River about five miles south of Albany, New York and has a commanding five-mile view of the river.

The book tells both the history of this Dutch-American house and of the Staats family. It starts off with a foreword written by Shirley Dunn, a Rensselaer County historian, and then describes the early history of the house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The book is a worthwhile read for those interested in the history of an iconic Dutch-American house in the upper Hudson Valley. The family anecdotes, mostly from the 20th century, are often funny and give a fascinating insight in growing up along the Hudson river.

William Staats

The book is written by William Staats, a 9th generation Hoogebergh inhabitant. He is professor emeritus from accounting and computer studies at Hudson Valley Community College. Mr. Staats provided us with a copy of his book. When asked why he waited until age 77 to write it, he replied: "because I was coerced by my niece who reasoned that something should be in print about this remarkable Dutch heritage".

Mr. Staats, the father of seven and the grandfather of fifteen, still drives the 1931 Model A Ford roadster which his mother bought as a used car in 1937, and clearly enjoys writing about his childhood and the Hoogebergh homestead.

“It took me about 10 months to write the book, and about as much time was spent by my capable editor and formatter, Edith Leet. Most of the research was done by my now-deceased sister-in-law, Connie, who did so much genealogy work. The anecdotes were from pure memory.”

History of Hoogebergh

After the chapters on the early history of the house, which includes anecdotes of a daytime stop over by General George Washington and a bullet marks from an incident hundreds of years ago that are still visible, the book describes the experiences of recent generations of inhabitants. In the 19th century the family built a huge ice house on the property, which was demolished 50 years later when the ice house business disappeared due to electrical refrigeration.

The ninth generation made it through the Great Depression in spite of the death of their father who left behind a courageous widow with seven young children and no social security or insurance. Only the generosity of an unmarried uncle and their maiden aunt, who opened the doors of their cramped rented row house in Rensselaer, saved the family from foster care. The Hoogebergh house served as an important weekend refuge for the family. Staats: “We didn't have much money, but we had a lot of fun!”

In 2009 a filming crew from the Netherlands visited the house, and the Dutch ambassador to the United States came over for a dinner evening at the homestead. In the late 20th century ownership of the house was transferred to a family foundation, with family members holding shares, securing the homestead for future generations.

"Three Centuries on the Hudson River. One family, one Dutch house."
Author: W.L. Staats
ISBN 978-0-578-06243-3
124 pages, paperback

Dutch-American Bert Blyleven in Hall of Fame


Netherlands-born baseball player Bert Blyleven was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame today. Blyleven was born Rik Aalbert Blijleven in Zeist, the Netherlands, and he becomes the first Dutch-American to be inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Blyleven pitched in 22 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and California Angels and compiled a 287-250 record with a 3.31 ERA, 242 complete games, 60 shutouts and 3,701 strikeouts in 4,969 1/3 innings. Often considered to have the toughest curveball of his time, Blyleven threw two different types, the "roundhouse" and the "overhand drop", according to the Hall of Fame press release. "He gripped both like a fastball and used a balanced, full follow-through to get movement".

In 1996 he became commentator for Minnesota Twins. Blyleven was a pitching coach for the Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

According to a biography by Professor Pegels, an expert on Dutch-Americans, Blyleven is a unique player: "Bert Blyleven was and still is the only native Dutchman to have made a successful career, as measured by quality of play, in American professional baseball".

Byleven and his colleague Roberto Alomar will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 24 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with executive Pat Gillick.



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