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At DULI

See you at DULI

by Natalia Moreno

Last weekend I sat down for tea with Carolina Nesi, the easy-going Brazilian woman who started up DULI. For those who haven’t discovered it already, DULI is a unique concept, and a gem for expat families in the heart of Delft. Part international bookstore and part birthday party venue, the English-language workshops — for both kids and adults — sit at the heart and soul of DULI. In this article, I share the fruits of my conversation with Carolina: what DULI is and how it was created.

What is DULI

DULI is part bookstore, part birthday party venue, and focuses on fun workshops for kids and adults in English. What makes it so unique in Delft is that it offers engaging after-school activities for expat kids who have not (yet) mastered the Dutch language. It also offers an easy way for expats to enlarge their expat social circle.

Bookstore

The bookstore is full of fun and educational books in several languages. While browsing, you can enjoy a cup of tea or Brazilian coffee. Bookstore hours are:

Monday-Wednesday 13:30-17:30
Thursday-Friday 10:00-17:30
Saturday 10:30-15:00

Birthday parties

DULI rents out the space for 2-hour birthday parties. The price starts at €120 and includes a workshop for 10 people, including invitations. Food is allowed but must be provided by the host.

Workshops

Regularly-scheduled workshops

DULI offers a host of fun workshops and activities for kids in English. These range from crafts to science to sports. They are offered as an 8-class package over 8 weeks (one class per week) for €80. Individual classes can also be attended for €12 on a drop-in basis. The full list of workshops on offer can be found on their website: http://www.dulidelft.com/childrens-workshops/.

One-day workshops

DULI also offers one-day workshops that do not require any registration. For example, looking for a fun activity on a Saturday and up for some creativity, try a Delft Blue tile painting workshop for kids and adults, taught by Carolina herself.

Adult workshops

DULI offers workshops and talks for adults on Thursdays from 20:00-21:30. They are given by a specialist on a selected topic, usually related to education and child behavior.

Requested workshops

If you have an idea for a (kid or adult) workshop, or are looking for one that is not on offer, Carolina is enthusiastic about discussing requests and ideas.

Workshop location

Depending on the needs of the workshop, the location can be on-site at the DULI bookstore, or at a nearby local school.

The story of DULI’s creation

Carolina’s story

Carolina had always been crazy about books. But the impetus to start DULI was born out of necessity. Together with her husband and two kids, Carolina moved to the Netherlands for work in 2015. They enrolled their kids in the International School, but quickly realized that after-school activities were offered predominantly in Dutch. This left them without a lot of appealing options for stimulating and dynamic after-school activities.

Carolina used her social and business skills to create a network of parents and teachers who were able to teach fun workshops in English to kids of different ages. She rented a classroom at the International School in Delft and organized a variety of eight-week workshops in the afternoon. Carolina was always in search of ways to combine her passion for child development and literature with her business skills. By the beginning of 2017 when her work contract was ending, she decided to take the dive, and in March 2018 she realized her long-term dream – opening DULI.

What does the name mean

From a combination of Duda and Lipe, the nicknames of Carolina’s two children Maria Eduarda and Felipe, the name DULI emerged.

So there you have it. DULI — a great find that offers educational activities for expat adults and kids, in creative, flexible environments right here in Delft.

Enjoy! Genieten! Aproveite!

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Living in an ex-pat bubble

Tis the season to be jolly…and for those that celebrate Christmas it is also the season of over-abundance, over-indulgence and  rosy-cheeked children whining to the merry tune of ‘it’s not fair, all my friends have got one.’

I love Christmas. I may even go as far as to say it was the main reason why I had children – that and having the perfect excuse to watch Disney films at the ripe old age of thirty-eight. Yet unlike my friends who at this time of year are tasked with the never ending battle of trying to manage their children’s’ expectations, when I asked my seven and five year old girls what they wanted from Santa  they answered – “ We don’t know, what is there?”

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To understand how I got so lucky you need to know where I live. I live in a bubble, a shiny happy ex-pat bubble of my own making.

Originally from London, I have been living an international lifestyle for eight years. I met my husband in Australia, we had our first child in the UK, our second daughter was born two years later in the south of Spain then just four months ago (following a job offer) our happy little family moved to Delft . We’ve gone from the big smoke to margaritas on the beach to cutesy canals and bicycles – and we love it. We enjoy our nomadic lifestyle, and never more so than at Christmas.

“How are you all adapting?” my overly concerned family and friends ask. “Is it hard settling in to a new country with the children?” To which I answer, “No, contrary to popular belief it’s actually easier to be a parent when you don’t know what’s going on all the time. We’re free to be who we want to be.”

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As mothers I’m sure you understand when I talk about expectations. Anxiety, fear of judgement, societal pressures and guilt are never far away. Doing what is expected of you as parents is something that never occurred to me as I picked out newborn clothes and pondered on baby names eight years ago. I didn’t once worry about whether my parenting methods would be questioned, or that I wouldn’t have control over what influenced my children…then they were born and the world of motherhood was cracked open in all its ugly technicolor glory. Without realising it, we parents are bombarded daily with what we should and must and need to do. Each country has a list of unwritten rules when it comes to children and how to raise them. Magazines, websites, mothering groups and family all influence our own parenting methods – until you move abroad. Then you are untouchable. Your rules from back home don’t apply and you are not worried about/able to understand/told about the rules in your new country of residence.

You know what that is called? Freedom. And never more so than at this time of year.

When it comes to Christmas I love living in a country that is not my own, and this year I’m especially excited about experiencing a cold Dutch Christmas for the first time. While others in their own home towns are feeling the festive season pressure of spending, attending and being in twenty million places at once – us expats are happily gawping in wonder around us, without any idea as to what is going on, completely oblivious to anyone’s expectations of us, simply floating about in our magical la la bubble. There are so many reasons why this time of year is especially magical (and easier) for my family.

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No expectations, no dissapointment
We have our own family traditions when we go back to the UK, but being new in The Netherlands we are still busy learning about what the locals do; the tiny round cinnamon biscuits, chocolate initials, Sinterklass instead of Santa and learning about when to put shoes out to be filled with presents. My children don’t know ‘the Christmas rules’ and neither do I…they have no expectations, so whatever happens is going to be magical and exciting because it’s all new.

No media influence
We don’t watch Dutch TV, so my girls don’t watch adverts (Netflix all the way). I don’t have magazines lying around the house full of glossy Must-Have Christmas Buys or Argos catalogues landing with a thump through the letterbox. My kids don’t know what is out there, except for the odd glance through the toy shop window, so when they ask for presents they simply ask for more of what they have. When you don’t have an abundance of choice, you don’t have stress.

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No peer pressure
Like many ex-pat families, my kids go to an International school. They play with children of many races, from various countries that practice a mix of religions and customs. Every child looks different, sounds different and dresses differently. These kids don’t care about ‘in’ toys or who has more or who’s wearing what. There are no fads, no designer gadget talk or one-upmanship when it comes to what presents they are going to receive this year. Half of them don’t even celebrate Christmas! So my girls are not whipped up into a ‘I want what she has’ frenzy.

Well-meaning relatives don’t get involved
We live far away from the ones we love. Sometimes that’s difficult, but sometimes that’s nice. I am not under any pressure to buy my mum’s neighbour a present because she has bought me bath salts every year since I was ten. I don’t have to attend the carol concerts of my friend’s children or my niece’s nativity play or send ten thousand Christmas cards. I’m out the loop. I have Facebook, I can say ‘hi’ and the rest of the time I can…

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…concentrate on my own family
Because that is what Christmas is truly about. Living in our ex-pat bubble forces my children, husband and I to stick together. We may be a little closed off from life around us, a little more selfish and a little bit insular – but it also makes us widen our horizons and pick and choose what is important to us. Our children are protected from Christmas expectations because they are living in a land that is not their own. Because the traditions of ‘back home’ no longer apply to them, instead they are getting the freedom to explore, respect and soak up new experiences.

We are not adhering to the kind of Christmas that advertisers on TV want us to have, that John Lewis ads are selling or what our parents before us are saying we must do.

We are all (even us grown-ups) getting to see Christmas in a new and wondrous light again and appreciating the importance of being part of someone else’s celebrations while still adhering to our own. We are choosing our own traditions and making our own memories, but most importantly we are doing this together as a family.

We’re in our own little Christmas bubble of happiness… you can’t get more magical that that!

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