Yolonda van Riel, President
I have worked and lived in the Netherlands since 2005. Sometimes it feels like I have been here forever and other times it feels just like yesterday! I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, USA but lived most of my life in Knoxville, Tennessee. I grew up as a typical American kid. My father taught high school and my mother was a secretary. My brother and I were very lucky to have such devoted parents and they always appreciated and supported that I had a different view of the world. From a young age, I had a tremendous fascination for “all things European” and I desperately wanted to travel and take in all the beautiful wonders that Europe had to offer. But, alas, I put those dreams on hold and followed a more traditional path, working towards my Master’s Degree and taking a “safe and secure” government job.
After a few years, I was approached by a company and give an opportunity to participate in the start up of a new service center for repairing aircraft engines. I was ready for a change and jumped at the chance. After a successful start-up, my company sent me to their sister facility in Tilburg to give some assistance and also receive some training. Later, I was offered a transfer to the facility in Tilburg. Although I was nervous about making such a move, my mother’s sound advice of “You will only regret what you never try”, rang loud and clear!
I also discovered tíc during this time and that added a whole new perspective to my life here in Tilburg. It has been great meeting such diverse and fascinating people and sharing stories (both good and bad) about life as an expat. Being on the board (event director first!) has also enriched my experience and broadened my view of the world in ways I could have never imagined.
In the spring of 2010, I took a position with another company – this time one that was European owned. That “sealed the deal” for me and I plan on staying in The Netherlands indefinitely. I have a great life here. I love all the different cultures and individualism that this small country has to offer. A part of me will always be partial to “home” but as the old saying goes, “Home is where the heart is” and mine is definitely in The Netherlands!
Mala Raman, Communications & Outreach
I’ve always been an adventurer and traveler. I grew up in Seattle visiting much of the US and many different countries with my wanderlust parents. As a teenager, I went to live in India for 1½ years where I went to school and learned the Indian classical dance style, Bharata Natyam. This was the start to my professional 18-year dance career for which I toured in England, Canada and the US. This experience gave me a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. After graduating from college, I spent the next 10 years building an HR career and completing my Master’s programs in Philadelphia (yes, and still dancing!). Towards the end of my studies, I made a pivotal decision that changed my life. I took a Organization Development job in Germany.
The rest, you may say, is history. Within 5 months, I had moved overseas, started my new position and began learning German. Fast forward 20 years and a lot has happened! I met my now husband, moved to the Netherlands, learned another language (ugh!), started my own translation business, added an additional 3 to my family (+ 1 dog and 1 hamster) and helped start the Tilburg International Club!
Though I’ve settled in the Netherlands, I always wanted to stay in touch with the international community. I was more than willing to volunteer my time to participate on the Board to help develop the organization. That was back in 2007! Over the years I’ve contributed in various capacities and am now in the primary role of developing tic’s membership base. I enjoy supporting our existing membership group and I look forward to meeting out newest international members as our club continues to grow!
Katie Schweitzer, Treasurer
I have been living in the Netherlands since Aug 2017. I am originally from the US. I was raised outside of Philadelphia, PA, but moved to Washington, DC for my bachelor’s degree and then worked there for 5 years before moving to the Netherlands.
I knew I had wanted to move to Europe at some point. I had been going to Ireland to visit family – my mother is Irish – since I was a kid. But a study abroad semester in Germany really left a lasting impression. Not only did I love the lifestyle, I loved being able to travel to so many different countries, and experience different cultures, with only a short plane or train ride.
So, when the opportune moment came, I decided to get my master’s degree in the Netherlands and have been working here since I completed my studies.
Lily Gonzalez, Events Team
I grew up in the northern part of Mexico (Baja California). Since I was young, I was really interested in other cultures just by listening to people talking in their own language (even though I did not understand a word) or reading books where the story was somewhere in Europe. This gave me the idea that it would be nice to live somewhere outside Mexico, somewhere in Europe.
It was in August 2016 when my dream to live in Europe came true and I had the opportunity to do my Masters in Geo-Information Science at Wageningen University (NL). During my studies, I learned about other cultures, taste traditional dishes from those countries and I discovered more cities in the Netherlands. Moreover, I realized how easy it was to travel to other countries close by and “just like that” I felt in love with the country (although not with its weather but that is another story) and I have lived in the Netherlands since then!
After my master’s I found a job at a start-up in Den Haag and the next move was to find a house close to the office but as you can imagine, it was really difficult to find a decent and affordable place. It was a day of a BBQ where “luck” was on my side and by talking with some friends living together in Tilburg they offered the opportunity to transfer their rental to my partner and me. That’s how I started to officially have a place in Tilburg in November 2019.
Being more settled in Tilburg made me realize that I really wanted to be part of a group/association where I could meet more people. Back then, I felt that my Dutch was not so good and I barely spoke a word so I decided to search for a more international environment, and then I found tíc. I started following them on social media but I didn’t dare to join any event initially because I felt shy about just showing up. A few months later, I saw a post on their social channels where they were looking for volunteers to help organize and host events for the club. It was after the Welcome Event 2020 that I officially joined and I’m really happy to be able to meet new people and enjoy events together.