My Dutch husband, my 3 teenage girls and I arrived from Australia to Tilburg in November 2015 to live for one year. Within 2 weeks, I was looking for an English speaking book club and asked at the library, but they didn’t know of any. So I started searching on google and the Tilburg International Club website with all the information about book club, social functions and general help with integration into Dutch life came up.
The first book club I attended was a cold, wet night and as my confidence in driving on the other side of the road had not yet kicked in, I decided to ride my bike. Google maps said a 20 minute ride…..took me 45 minutes battling against the rain and wind. I arrived wet, hot and sweaty to a group of about 15 ladies who were kind enough to catch my breath before allowing me to introduce myself! I believe now, if I had to make the same journey again, 1 year later, I would make that ride in 20 minutes.
Having events at TIC gave me an opportunity to meet some lovely people while trying to navigate my way in a new country. We have enjoyed attending the events as a family and also as a couple or me on my own. TIC gave us a feeling of being included while meeting new, interesting people that we might not have met otherwise.
We are now back in Australia and who knows what the future holds, but if we return to Tilburg I’ll be back at book club!
The first meeting of TIC readers was at Coree’s home on September 27th. After chatting about summer vacations (and the first debate of the US Presidential election!) we settled down to talk about The Boys in the Boat. This non-fiction book, written by Daniel James Brown (not to be confused with the Dan Brown of The Divinci Code) is about the 8 man rowing shell from University of Washington that went on to become the US’s Olympic entry in the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics – Hitler’s Olympics!
The story is told mainly from the vantage point of Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard, but also, to find a real place for himself in the world. At a time when rowing- or crew- was dominated by the elite East Coast Universities, the Washington boat was filled with boys who were the sons of loggers, shipyard workers and farmers. No one expected them to triumph over the elite East Coast teams and Great Britain, but they went on to challenge the German boat rowing for Adolf Hitler, winning gold by six-tenths of a second! In spite of knowing the outcome of the race at the onset, the story was still gripping and exciting as the boys overcame huge obstacles to win.
Although none of us know much about rowing, we were much more informed by the end of the book: the 8 man shell has 9 men in it, the ninth man being the small coxswain who determines the pace of the rowers. Each chapter started with a semi philosophical quote by George Yeoman Pocock, Washington’s magical boat craftsman/builder. Brown interwove a lot of interesting facts about the depression era, as well as the Nazi actions and preparations for the Olympics through the story which all found very interesting. We learned that bringing the Olympic flame to the games was an idea conceived by Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s favored cinematographer who was to film the Olympics. Added to the good footage she had already gotten of the gold medal race, Riefenstahl got the 3 top teams to row again the next day with her cameramen in the place of the coxswain and first seat to add close-ups to her overall footage. The resulting film, Olympia, was a masterpiece of innovative filming and earned Riefenstahl worldwide accolades. All in all, everyone liked the book but some thought it was too detailed in the middle and would have been stronger if its 400 pages had been cut down somewhat.
By happy coincidence, I happened to be in Seattle, Washington this past summer visiting a good friend. She had also read the book and suggested a trip to the University of Washington where the Husky Clipper – the 1936 Olympic 8man shell – hangs suspended from the ceiling in the dining commons above the Shell House. It was amazing to see the long, light and thin boat and marvel at the history I now knew she contained!
(On a side note, Riefenstahl’s Olympia is still considered a classic film and it’s available for rental at Cinnicitta (Willem II straat). I plan to organize an evening for those interested to watch together – be on the lookout for an invitation. )
After a two year hiatus, I’m happy to be back on the TIC Board taking over our online activities from Thijs and spearheading some much needed initiatives in the areas of Communication & Membership Development.
Tilburg International Club has come a long way from its start in 2007. Over the years I’ve contributed in various capacities and have enjoyed seeing the club from all different perspectives. I’m back now in a new role to help further develop our online presence and support the growth of our membership base.
This year, one our priorities is to create a stronger online awareness of our club, events, goals and attractive membership benefits through Facebook (feel free to visit now!), Twitter @tilintclub and, of course, our own Tilburg International Club website. We would love the help and encouragement of our members and club friends. You can help us by:
- frequently visiting our website
- joining our Twitter feed
- “liking” our Website and Facebook posts
- commenting on posts
- sharing posts on your timeline
- sharing posts on the timeline of friend who would enjoy reading about our activities
Another major effort will be in the area of recruitment to reach even more internationals in and around the Tilburg area. Our club has improved the quality as well as the variety of its events. We pride ourselves on offering a well-rounded assortment of workshops, outings, social gatherings and Dutch-oriented, cultural and educational lectures. As such, we would love to be able to share all of this with expats who may not know about our club yet. You can help out by:
- spreading the word about TIC to friends and co-workers
- distributing the club business cards
- referring your acquaintances to our website for more information
As we continue to offer fun events to our existing membership group, we will be looking to provide our members with additional benefits. Members should look for even more activities offered free of charge or very attractively priced with additional “extras.”
This is going to be another great club year full of fun, laughter and strong friendships, don’t miss the opportunity to see what the club has in store for you! Whether you’ve been a member for some time, you’re a new member or you’re interested in joining the club., I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events!