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News Archive

#TBT: Book Review of The Underground Railroad

We’re gearing up to start our new 2018 – 2019 club season and coming up on our agenda is our first Book Club of the year! For throwback Thursday, let’s take a look at one our meet ups from last year.

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by Anne van Oorschot

Our book club met to discuss our latest book, Pulitzer prize winner The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. It is the story African American slave, Cora, and her flight from slavery on a plantation in Georgia. While most people are familiar with descriptions of slavery on cotton plantations in America in the early 1800s, the author gave a good picture of the horrible conditions and ruthless behavior inflicted on the slaves. Running away should have been an attractive option…but the horrible death you would suffer if you were caught and brought back served as an effective deterrent for most. Caesar, a recent and less battered down addition to her plantation’s slave population, talks Cora into fleeing to a contact of his with ties to the Underground Railroad. The two set off and are initially successful, the book following their escape route through states to the north.

The first surprise was that the Underground Railroad was an actual railroad – built in tunnels under the ground. Why had the author chosen to portray it so literally? If you hear aboutthe Underground Railroad as a child, you do imagine it to be a regular railroad; did Whitehead decide to remain true to his initial image of the secret network of individuals who helped slaves escape? Another aspect that I found surprising was the big difference in attitudes and laws in the different states Cora went through. While there were laws in place to “lift up” colored citizens in South Carolina (with somewhat dubious motives), North Carolina wanted to rid their state of ALL blacks and made entertainment out of hanging any they found + those residents who helped them. After several near misses, things seemed to end well when Cora arrived at the Valentine farm in Indiana, a community made up entirely of colored residents, and found her place in the group. As the small community grew, their white neighbors became increasingly hostile and decided to take matters into their own hands. It remains shocking, the things people feel justified in doing to others who are “different”.

The opinions of our group about the book were quite varied: some found it too slow paced with a confusing story line, others felt it moved along at a good pace and found the story line clear. I really liked the book and found the language used beautiful – such clear images and spot on descriptions. My favorite impression was from a section mid-book that was a bit random to the main story line. A young man is studying medicine at a small Boston college and supplements his income by going on raids to find cadavers that students can practice on. This involves going out in the dead of night and stealing the bodies from new graves. Since white graves were often guarded by family members to prevent removal of the body, that was generally not the case for black graves. Thus, more and more medical cadavers were blacks: “Yet when his classmates put their blades to a colored cadaver, they did more for the cause of colored advancement than the most high-minded abolitionist. In death the negro became a human being. Only then was he the white man’s equal.”

(I was excited to hear that Colson Whitehead would be giving a talk about the book in Amsterdam at the John Adams Institute. Though the tickets were sold out, my daughter managed to find 2, so I’ll be going on December 6th . Come to the next book discussion to hear what I learned… ) We ended our evening with a book exchange and several members brought good books they had already read to share with the group. There were a few of our past reads among the books – good books, but not ones in line to be re-read. Especially nice for new members of our group, but I went away with a couple of books as well.

#expatlife #Tilburg #bookclub #internationalclub #tbt

#TBT: Canal ride and walking tour review

Throwback Thursday brings you a look at our boat and walking tour from this past October.

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by Andrew Kelly

Being October, we decided to arrange a boat trip and nature walk as October means good weather, right? Well, as I have learned coming from northern Europe, that is not always the case.

The trip was split into two parts, the boat trip through the Piushaven Tilburg and then a nature walk through nature preserve Moerenburg.

This sunny afternoon started at the Doncurado Tilburg, which has the best coffee in all of Tilburg. At 14:00, the TIC group was picked up by our guide for the day Gert Brunink (owner of Mee Naar Buiten).

Walking from our meeting point to the boat, I would say the sky just opened up and then we discovered that there was no roof to the boat. But Gert was on hand with umbrellas! So, a little wet, we set off around the Piushaven.

The trip was great fun and we did learn a lot about the history of Tilburg and how in the past, the Piushaven was the life blood of the city. I will not go into too much detail because I feel I would not do it justice but if you are interested in knowing about the history of Tilburg I would defiantly invest a afternoon.

Then, as it always is, as soon as the boat docked, the rain stopped and Gert lead us on our nature walk through Moerenburg. This area is a natural swamp and was previously a water reservoir for Tilburg. But now, it is a quiet place to enjoy a stroll near the water and admire the many animals that are present.

We ended the tour at one of the most impressive attractions, the re-creation of the old land house. Much of the history of 
this building is lost but luckily, they are finding more info every day.

Tilburg is a place with lots to offer, including plenty for the nature enthusiasts. I would definitely recommend taking this tour.

#Expat #Tilburg #Piushaven #MeeNaarBuiten #tour

#TBT: TIC at the Tilburg Hap Stap Festival 2017

Tomorrow we’ll meet up again at the Hap Stap Festival.  In honor of Throwback Thursday, here’s a look back at the TIC experience from last year!

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by Tanya Ahern

The weather was perfect for an evening of munching and kletzen at the 22nd annual Hap Stap Festival. Sixteen local restaurants showed off their best tapas-style dishes and the tempting aromas of gourmet dining blanketed the revelers. The event was was made up of dozens of tents dotted throughout the Interpolis’ courtyard (near the Spoorlaan). TIC’s own crafty Corey secured the perfect cozy table right in the middle of the action and attendees sampled dishes such as fish and chips, steaks, burgers, friets and more.

Like every Tilburg International Club Borrel, the first drink was provided by the club and iced Schrobbeler with lime was the drink of choice for several attendees. Many club members danced to the 1960’s R&B sounds of the live band The Motown Marbles. The summer daylight extended to 10pm and the group enjoyed the lekker weer until the late evening.

 

#expatlife #Tilburg #HapStap #borrel #internationalclub

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