Dutch students explore cultural differences, similarities

Published 6:43 pm Thursday, October 16, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Thirteen Dutch students involved in an exchange program between Brandywine Middle-High School and their own school are returning to their homeland this Friday.
With them, the students, who attend the Gymnasium Camphusianum (Dutch high school equivalent) in Gorinchem, will hopefully bring good memories of the people they met, their host families, the places they have seen and the different foods they have eaten during their two-week stay here.
Dave Roeder, a high school social studies teacher at Brandywine, has arranged the exchange with the Dutch school, which is located half-an-hour outside the two Dutch cities of Rotterdam and Utrecht.
Students from Brandywine Middle-High school travelled across the Atlantic earlier this year to visit the Netherlands and other European countries.
Diederik Van Der Linde, one of the Dutch students, said the two-week stay has been fun and he has experienced some of the things that make the U.S different from his own country.
He said another big difference, also related to sports, is that in the Netherlands schools don't have cheerleading groups or marching bands.
For Nadine Ottenbros, one of the big differences was coming to realize that people in the Netherlands "always" eat dinner together, which, based on her experience, is not the case here.
Ottenbros, being just below the legal U.S. driving age, said young people here are also more mobile than in her country because of the lower legal driving age here.
As in most European countries, the legal driving age is 18 in the Netherlands.
But it isn't always the big things that make the biggest impressions when travelling abroad.
Tim Frieke, the youngest of the Dutch students, was thrilled to learn about 're-fills' and Mountain Dew, two commodities that are common here, but unavailable to him at home.
But the students also said the 'largeness' of everything in the U.S. is a major difference compared to their own country.
The Netherlands, which has roughly 16 million inhabitants, is slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey, and borders with Germany and Belgium.
Although things are different, students from both countries have found that they are in many ways similar, which is perhaps one of the more important aspects of an exchange trip. Lucy Pellikaan sums up what the Dutch students feel after their mid-west stay, which has, amongst other things, included a trip to Chicago with several museum visits, Shipshewana, Ind., Navy Pier and St. Joseph's Silver beach. "The people (here) are very friendly and hospitable," said Pellikaan.
If people wish to make donations to the next group of Brandywine students who plan to travel to the Netherlands and Europe on the exchange, call Dave Roeder at Brandywine Middle-High School, at 684-4800 ext. 403.