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Month: June 2016

Tarja & Emile a binary love story

Place yourself at the time when to connect to the internet from home, the phone line was engaged for as long as the connection lasted. Remember the dialing sound of the modem as if it were a broken phone? Are you in that soundcloud? Hang in there, as right here is where this story started, far back in 2001, when a teenage Finnish lady was studying in Italy and a Dutch scientist in his late twenties was exploring his career opportunities in Amsterdam.
Five years after they have exchanged their first “
hello”, they met “for real”.  No word exchanged at the arrivals gate of the Helsinki international airport, a straightforward kiss was the beginning of what turned out to be a family of five.

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Delft Mama of the week: Rachelle

I asked to meet with Rachelle, because we have known each other for a year and a half, thanks to playgroup, and because she has been writing the most interesting things on Facebook lately. Recently Rachelle went on a retreat for the second time and came back updating her status about all the things that make her happy. To me it seemed as if she was undergoing what I called “a happiness challenge”, but instead of only talking about happiness, we had a long interview during which she talked openly about her personal grief, growth and depression. Listening to her wisdom, I realized seeing the happiness posts on Facebook were her yang, but it all came from her yin. “That’s the thing about depressions that people don’t realize: when you’re depressed, you usually stay at home and the days you feel better, you go outside. Nobody knows there’s something going on underneath the surface. People just don’t see it. I’ve been very open about this, because I think people should be more open about depression.” Read more

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Delft taught us the kind of family we want to be

This story starts our new series called Post-Delftian Lives. We look into families who used to live in Delft and have later relocated either back to their homeland or yet another country. We get to hear how the transitioning went, what were the greatest challenges, relieves and what they ended up missing about living in Delft. Our first story tells about a Chilean-Spanish family who spent two great years in Delft and have been back to Chile for over a year now. Welcome to Post-Delftian Lives.

leti's familyLeticia and Benjamín, moved to Europe after dating for eight months. Their first stop was in France, from where the couple returned to their howetown of Santiago after a year. Little Madgalena was born in Chile in 2012. When Benjamín was accepted to do his masters at the TU Delft, for the second time the family packed up their lives and flew over to Europe, this time around completely unaware of their destination. “We didn’t know much about The Netherlands; it wasn’t a country that we wanted visit or anything, and Delft didn’t exist in our thoughts. After Benjamín was accepted, we saw some pictures, but that was all. We only knew that Dutch people love bikes and cheese, canals and football – the clichés. Of course everything changed when we arrived.” Read more

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Delft Mama of the week: Miriam

 

Delft Mama of the week, Miriam, is highly involved in various children’s activities in the city. She has been attending the playgroup on a weekly basis with her daughter Freddy (3) from the first week they arrived in Delft two years ago. During the spring, Miriam and her husband Nathan, volunteered to work with the refugees through Welkoms Maaltijd and have enjoyed it immensely. “I care passionately about the refugees and I really want to be able to do something with them. With DMM I had an opportunity to start: the previous coordinator was moving away and she was looking for someone to take on the role. I thought it was a great opportunity. My experience working in charities and in management in general, my interest in this area, and also having lived in countries that weren’t my home, all give me a tiny bit of an insight into what people might need when arriving in a foreign country. The Welkoms Maaltijd format might change after the summer break, but I do hope we will be able to keep it going in some way, and I can continue contributing in the future.” Read more

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Delft Mama of the week: Zsófia

Delft Mama of the week, Zsófia, is a mother of two little girls, Johannah (5) and Annabel (3). Zsófia met her husband while on holiday and after a couple of years of long-distance relationship, they decided to move to the Netherlands where he was studying at the time. “Initially, I felt bewildered when planning the move and wondered how we would combine my Hungarian and his Indian backgrounds. But we are in a neutral country and in many ways we follow the Dutch routine and we take the best of both of our cultures. Apart from the internationals, we also have Dutch friends; it makes it easier to feel at home. As a couple we are very passionate about other cultures and before having kids, we traveled to various corners of the world, which enabled us to learn a lot about other cultures, to meet local people and to taste different types of cuisine.”

Zsófia has a life-long interest in different cultures, languages and teaching, through which she found a way to feel a part of the Dutch society when first moving to the Netherlands almost nine years ago. “I was lucky to find work three months after I moved to Delft, which helped me feel less homesick. I gave English classes to business professionals and companies. The work was very exciting and challenging and kept me so busy that I forgot about homesickness. I worked there for 3,5 years, until our first daughter was born. I had a great time, I learned a lot about the Dutch working culture with the help of my fantastic manager who let me take time to learn about giving courses in a business environment, as it was something completely new compared to teaching school children in my home country. But the long hours and teaching in the evening were the reasons I stopped working as long as my children were small. In my field of teaching it’s easy to pick up where I left afterwards. I figured I’d focus my passion about teaching on my children. I want to spend as much time with them as possible. When they are home, I don’t open my laptop or my email.”

About two years ago when the previous coordinator of Bumps and Babies playgroup moved away, Zsófia was asked to take on the responsibility. “I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to meet new moms, share the knowledge and have my children interact with other kids. The group has been growing significantly in the last few years from a handful of moms attending to an average 10-15 moms.” Zsófia also attends the Tuesday playgroup by volunteering to open it once a month and is one of the leads in the new Delft MaMa program called SliDe, which is aimed to match newcomers to Delft with mentors who help them to adapt to the Dutch lifestyle and customs. “We trained our volunteers and applied for grants. We are expecting to get more requests when the academic school year starts. It’s a pilot program, so we need to adjust it still, but it’s going well as we have made several successful matches. So far I have been busy emailing companies, international schools and various organizations informing about this opportunity. They truly appreciate our efforts and they will make sure their parents at schools or companies hear about SliDe.”

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Taiwanese Food Circles in the Netherlands

My experiences told me that food can comfort one’s mind with a very unique healing power.

As a Taiwanese proverb says, eating and emperor are equally important to a civilian. It shows how much food means in Taiwanese life style and culture. Taiwanese food plays an important role in my Dutch life too. Whenever I get homesick, I enjoy making Taiwanese food for myself; when I have foreign friends over for dinner, I always share Taiwanese food culture with my guests, too. I deeply believe sharing food with friends or beloved ones can certainly shorten the distance between one and the other. Read more

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Delft Mama of the week: Johanna

Delft Mama of the week, Johanna, is a mother of Gus (4,5) and is expecting a little sister for him to be born in August. By the time this story comes out, this family will be landing in Canada, after living in the Netherlands for nearly a decade. Johanna’s mother-in-law comes from Eindhoven, which is the reason they ended up in Europe in the first place. “My husband Jason was born and raised in Canada and we met in university in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We thought we’d use the fact that he had Dutch citizenship through his mother to come see what it was like to live here. Our plan was, maybe a year or two, definitely move home before we have kids, and that we’d have a little European adventure. We came to Delft, because his job had a boarding program that put him up for two weeks in the Koophandel in Beestenmarkt. The bells ringing every morning and looking at the cafés on the square was my European dream. I was home.” 

The couple found a small apartment and on those early days they lived simply, just like they had been living in Canada as students. In fact their first community in Delft was a group of students and young professionals that Johanna and Jason met through the Delftians. “We all became very close quite quickly and we spent every weekend together. That first group with the international students was our community and I also needed to branch out and be a part of the Dutch community, so I joined the DDS rowing club as well. Those were my first close Dutch friends. We were lucky to be also invited to play squash with some of Jason’s Dutch colleagues and that was another Dutch community that we became a part of early on.” 

Eventually Johanna found work at the American School in The Hague and started teaching environmental science there. The importance of the work community was significant as well. New opportunities to join new circles emerged to them once their son was born. “Gus was born in 2011 and that changed the make up of our community. We started meeting international and Dutch mothers and fathers. Delft MaMa has come to my life in the last year and a half. Only this year I got really involved by doing the work with refugees. I found a really incredible community of women in Delft MaMa. I feel I’ve been able to share my gifts while also learning from the gifts of the women in that group. It’s an incredible circle of strong, intelligent women that are really empowering of each other. I’ve treasured it in the time I’ve been a part of it. I have really been involved: when I find something that my heart is in, that I believe in, I jump in full-heartedly.”

Johanna says right now Delft feels like home more than anywhere, but they are very much looking forward of going back to Canada and letting their children experience the closeness of the immediate family as well as the wilderness and the sense of space. However, going back will be a transition. “I will be looking to other Delft Mamas who made the transition back to see how they’ve done it. I believe that when we move home, the community that we find, will be an international one with more European flavor. We will be drawn to people that have lived abroad or that are sympathetic to the ideas of European life. I think it will be a different mix than what it was before we left. We left as students and we’re going back as parents, so we’re going to be setting up a different life. What that will look like, I’m not quite sure.”

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