Day 4 – Word From the Netherlands!


Glenn Cassidy


Glenn Cassidy, Faculty

Today started with a bit of an adventure for the adults, as it was our first time getting on the bikes here. Ms. Flynn, in particular, had a hard time getting adjusted to the different style of a bike which is too high to be able to put her feet on the ground. Nevertheless, after a few minutes, we got it together and were on our way to the school.

Once at the school, the students and faculty were treated to a fascinating geography and geology lesson about the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a country that is set mostly below sea level. In order to make this work, the people of the Netherlands have figured out how to reclaim land from the sea. They first learned the art of building large dikes to hold back the sea and then use windmills to power pumping stations to pump the water out. In more recent years, they have changed from dikes to natural dunes, some of which make up the highest hills in the country. These dunes are designed to separate the land from the sea and are incredibly important for the survival of the country.  Adding to this, because most of the ground is a former waterbed, the ground is made up of soft materials. This helps to explain why there are no real skyscrapers.

After the geography/geology lesson, our students spent some time with their Dutch hosts to plan presentations that they would make in the next period. The students made presentations that focused on the US, New Jersey, Newark, and St. Benedict’s. Presentations were made to 1st and 2nd from students or the equivalent to our Lower Division.

The remainder of the day depended on the host’s schedule. In some cases, students were finished and were able to leave school. Others had class until around 3:00. As there are no after-school activities, students clear out of the school pretty quickly at the end of classes for the day.

While some guys took it easy for the rest of the day, others continued to take in new experiences. Sterling got to go the stables and hang out with the horses, while Jerry and Ivan took in a nighttime bike ride, with their hosts, to Alkmaar. See the photos attached of the church in the center of Alkmaar and the hospital which Jerry described as “spooky”.

Tomorrow is set to be a full day with a lesson on World War 2 and visits to some WW2 sites. This will be followed by a trip to an organic bio farm followed by a trip to the beach. Tomorrow evening there’s a pot-luck dinner with all of the students from both schools and the parents from Jac P. Thisse providing the meals.

However, our beach trip may be threatened as the first rain of our trip is predicted for tomorrow afternoon.  We are expecting a beautiful high of 14 and a comfortable low of 9 tomorrow (58 and 48). Today’s temperatures reached a very nice 18 degrees (64).From Ian Simmons:

From Ian Simmons:”Today started with a freezing cold bike ride to school. At the school, I met a couple of my host’s friends. In between classes I was shocked because we were able to leave to go to a nearby bar to eat a massive pile of fries. When we came back to the school we prepared for a presentation on America, Newark, and St. Benedicts. It went well until we watched the 60 min video and the students started asking where all the girls are. Other than forgetting to mention it was all boys the presentation went well. After school we went to a nearby “mall” which seemed more like a rest stop on a highway where I was given many Dutch candies; all of which were disgusting.  From there we biked to a nearby park to play soccer. After that, we went to disco bowling in Heiloo.”