There was a time that the Dutch were praised and admired because of their liberal minds and the evolving of a multicultural society. We have so many different nationalities living in the Netherlands, we have freedom of speech, we have gay marriage and we tell everybody who wants to listen exactly how open minded we are. But are we really that open minded as we think? Isn’t that something that once was but has been gone for few years now? Or is it just the privilege of populist politicians to say what they think?
The Netherlands celebrated liberation day yesterday, five days after the crowning of the new king. Amsterdam was the stage of the big celebration during the crowning. Its main square was full of people dressed in orange to say goodbye to queen Beatrix who passed the torch to her son Willem Alexander after 33 years of reign. The country was dazzled in euphoria without realising that on that same day fundamental human rights were violated.
The white snowy landscapes are gone and the ice has melted in the Netherlands, and with that the hope of the revival of a part of Dutch culture has faded away. It started freezing two weeks ago and, with the prospect of more cold weather, the people soon started to say the magic words: De Elfstedentocht (The Eleven Cities Tour). This ice-skating contest can only be held when the 200 kilometres track consisting out of rivers and lakes are completely frozen. The last time this happened was in 1997 and since then everybody has been hoping for another tour every year and every year they have been disappointed.
The people in Netherlands were shocked when they heared that the linesmen of an amateur football match died in a hospital two weeks ago after he was molested by kids of the visiting team. People were outraged and asked how fifteen and sixteen year olds could do this. A big debate on how to avoid is in the future is going on ever since. One point of view is expressed by Geert Wilders. Since the perpetrators were Moroccans, his anti-migrant Freedom Party sees opportunities to make up for his big loss in the last elections and claim that problem is an Moroccan problem not a football problem.
Sanne van Oosten
Who else is confused by the Amsterdam Weedpass? It seems to have become a never ending string of intended laws concerning the accessibility of Amsterdam coffeeshops to foreigners. Are foreigners allowed to visit the Amsterdam coffeeshops for some somewhat legal marijuana? Or what? This is exactly what is going on:
Davey Meelker and Sanne van Oosten
What is life like in the Amsterdam Osdorp Notweg refugee camp? It is impossible to completely understand what it must be like to live here. Yesterday we wrote a blog about the situation, but these pictures also give an insight into the lives of the 80 people living here.
Sanne van Oosten and Davey Meelker
After having travelled throughout the world we thought we’d witnessed more than our fair share of impoverishment. We had never expected that our own home town, Amsterdam, would reveal the most hopeless situation we had ever seen. Today we hopped on our bikes and went to the outskirts of town, Osdorp, where we visited the Notweg tented camp, housing 80 illegal immigrants who were recently told that they couldn’t stay in the Netherlands because their home countries were safe enough to go back.
Very often people ask me why I, a Dutch person, decided to do my Masters degree in Antwerp. I often reply by saying that I like the experience being in a new city and that it saves me a lot of money. The last bit, however, is somewhat sensitive. I don’t like Belgians to think of me as a greedy Dutch student whose only purpose is to get a degree at low costs and then leave again. Nevertheless, just like many other students I cannot deny that this is part of the truth.
Sanne van Oosten
Last weekend we came across a mind blowing family story that has kept us thinking ever since. We are now in Taiwan came in contact with a family who really wanted to take us out to dinner. This dinner was entertaining and pleasant, but at the end of the evening we were somewhat disgusted about their adoption story. We don’t know what to think about this, so we are wondering, what do you think?
Sanne van Oosten
It’s good to be back. After nine months of traveling through Asia I’m so happy to be in good ole Amsterdam again. In Dutch I’d say: Oost, West, Mokum best. Even though we had an amazing time in Asia, this trip has made me appreciate all those little things from home just a little bit more. Biking through the city, the view of the windmill from my window, Old Amsterdam cheese, and last but not least, delicious water straight from the tap.