The Hague’s Pearls

The podcasts below are devoted to members of the international community who have made a special contribution to the City of The Hague.

As DutchbuzZ celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the team takes pleasure in inviting and interviewing the city’s many ‘pearls’. Many of them have been featured in our programmes over the years because they reflect our rich and diverse international community.

Newsmakers, writers, local politicians, entertainers, innovators, entrepreneurs, experts in their field, and colourful personalities, they all make The Hague a better place to live and work in.

All the interviews have been broadcast, but we enjoyed them so much that we are now sharing them with you as special, celebratory podcasts.

Fiona Passantino

Fiona Passantino: People working from home and kids toiling away behind their screens instead of attending school. For some of us the learning curve in digital communication has been steep, while most kids have taken to it like ducks to water. Of course, it can’t replace our social contacts, but without digital communication we would have been truly isolated and even out of a job!

Visual communication specialist and corporate storyteller Fiona Passantino has never been busier. Resident in The Hague with her international family, she has brought out a Post Covid Handbook that is proving to be very timely. Lily-Anne Stroobach recently added her to our String of Pearls and spoke to her on DutchbuzZ…

Dominique Fontaine

Dominique Fontaine – Dominique Fontaine moved to The Hague 30 years ago and despite a busy corporate job she has always been involved in initiatives to support the French community in The Hague. As President of the Alliance Française, she started the language school and since retiring she has been the force behind a number of initiatives to promote small businesses run by French and Francophone residents of the Netherlands and a think tank to reflect on current affairs affecting internationals.

In the context of the French consular elections, Dominique tells DutchbuzZ about why it is so important to stay connected to the community.

Carolyn Vines

Carolyn Vines:“Dutch people are open and receptive about looking at aspects of perceived racism in their culture,” so says the author of ‘Black and Abroad’, Carolyn Vines. In this inspiring The Hague Pearl interview, Carolyn opens up to DutchbuzZ’s Olivia Nelson about the joys and challenges of building a life and career as a Black American woman in The Netherlands.
From her dream of helping others as a life coach to dealing with Dutch traditions that clash with her ideals, Carolyn tells us how she navigates this experience and how family is central to everything.

Anthony Heinsbroek

Anthony Heinsbroek – The coordinator of the Hand-in-Hand project, an initiative of the International Roman Catholic Church of Our Saviour in The Hague. The goal of the project is to make people who have fled their countries feel welcome in The Hague by inviting them to take part in cultural and social events where they can meet and befriend other residents of the city. Anthony is recently retired from a four decade long career teaching children with special needs. But, as he explains to Ayesha de Sousa, there are many ways to make positive contributions to society.

Gerko Visée

Gerko Visée: In this interview with Elena Gkiola, Gerko Visée, Adviser at The Hague International Centre, tells DutchbuzZ about the job satisfaction of helping internationals to settle in The Hague. An avid traveller himself, Gerko shares his personal motivation for his work. What drives this young Dutch linguist to serve the international community? How does he see the evolving role of The Hague International Centre in the years to come? Stay tuned to learn more about the man who may well have been the first person from the municipality to welcome you to the city of peace and justice.

Andrew van Esch

Andrew van Esch – Connecting people is his speciality, especially if you are new in The Hague or from a different cultural background. As the founder of the Guest Card, The Hague International Network, Director of the Global Talent Pool Foundation, and on the board of the pop podium, Paard, Andrew van Esch has been working for the international community in this city for more than 30 years. A regular guest on DutchbuzZ, I asked him how it all started…

Petra Brekelmans

Petra Brekelmans: The Hungry Mind, and now Villa Ockenburgh, both pearls created and restored by the enterprising Petra Brekelmans. One is a meeting place for the international community in The Hague, the other, a 17th century villa. DutchbuzZ spoke to Petra about how her time as an expat herself motivated her to create these local hubs for both locals and internationals. She spoke to Lily-Anne Stroobach.

Billy Allwood

Billy Allwood – In this interview Billy Allwood, founder of the TheHagueOnline website and the Feel At Home in The Hague fair, tells DutchbuzZ how he turned his personal need for knowledge of local news and events into a thriving information business aimed at internationals. Billy went from a PhD in x-ray chrystallography to becoming a networking, organising, publishing, marketing guru in his adopted city. He shares what it means to be happy and what to do if you are not. Listen all the way to the end for a hot off the press announcement and request from Billy!

Tetyana Benzeroual

Tetyana Benzeroual: The Netherlands has one of the highest numbers of volunteers in the world and The Hague is particularly rich when it comes to residents rendering their services free of charge. Set up to enable internationals in The Hague to share their time and skills, Volunteer The Hague has found hundreds of jobs for people at charities, NGOs, hospitals and care centres for the aged. Someone who has played a pivotal role in helping the international community in The Hague find rewarding volunteer work, is this week’s DutchbuzZ Pearl, Tetyana Benzeroual, Project Manager at Volunteer The Hague..

Hans Willink

Hans Willink – Saving the local museum in Scheveningen, championing disabled sportsmen and women, writing a book on darts legend, Raymond van Barneveld – they all form part of Hans Willink’s love for The Hague and Scheveningen; a passion which he shares with Dutchbuzz Editor, Lily-Anne Stroobach, who selected Hans as one of its Pearls. Discover why Hans deserves this accolade by listening this podcast…

Cathy Delhanty

Cathy Delhanty: Cathy has been enriching The Hague’s international community for twenty years with her energy and drive to bring warmth where it is most needed. Her charity, Wool for Warmth builds communities of volunteers who knit scarves, hats and warm clothes for The Hague’s homeless people. Cathy’s passion for social inclusion stems partly from her own painful past and her own experience of rejection as an international, as she told DutchbuzZ’s Ayesha de Sousa in this candid and poignant interview.

Elske van Holk

Elske van Holk – Founder of the English Theatre Foundation, better known as STET, who brings quality English language theatre productions to The Hague every year.

What would Christmas be like without the English theatre productions that Elske annually brings to The Hague? Summers without one of Elske’s outdoor Shakespeare plays? Unthinkable! For the past 14 years Elske has entertained and inspired the international community in The Hague with her hand-picked theatre productions from all corners of the world. Selected as a special guest for our 10th anniversary and one of Dutchbuzz’s ‘Pearls’, Lily-Anne Stroobach spoke to the founder of the English Theatre Foundation about bringing English language theatre to The Hague, and what she values most in her life; culture and family.

Deborah Valentine

Deborah Valentine: Since 2011, Deborah Valentine has been Executive Director of Access, the volunteer-managed organisation that provides help and advice to internationals in The Hague. In this interview she tells DutchbuzZ how she has helped professionalise the organisation during her tenure, how she stayed focused on looking after the volunteer staff during the turbulent year of 2020 and what her priorities are for the future. In the second part of the interview, Deborah shares her thoughts on women’s rights, feeling at home, learning Dutch and enjoying a nice glass of wine.

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