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.

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.

Patricia Cardona

Micky Piller

Micky Piller – There are few people who know more about world famous Dutch artist, M.C. Escher than Micky Piller. Curator of the Escher and Palace Museum for more than a decade, Micky managed to unravel a great deal about this rather elusive artist during her tenure at the former royal palace in The Hague. In this interview with Dutchbuzz, she talks to Lily-Anne Stroobach.


Berry Rutjes

Berry Rutjes –In the Netherlands, the opening of Parliament has female MPs scurrying for appropriate hats for the occasion. One of the highly skilled milliners in our city is Berry Rutjes who personally designed and made Queen Maxima’s eye-catching hat this year. Lily-Anne Stroobach spoke to her at her colorful store in Noordeinde, The Hague.

Patricia Cardona

Anat Ratzabi

Don’t we all love chocolate? But did you know that cacao lends itself to art?

Resident in The Hague for more than three decades, Israeli born Anat Ratzabi has made chocolate her medium to produce award winning pieces. She recently won a prestigious chocolatier award in Belgium and is in the studio to tell Dutchbuzz editor Lily-Anne Stroobach all about it…


Renée Tentori

Renée TentoriThe Hague international, Renée Tentori, loves to connect, communicate and educate. Active in various roles in Delft and The Hague for more than a decade, she loves the diversity of this city. Raising two global citizens far from her homeland of Australia, she shares some of her life experiences, as a lecturer at a Dutch university, being an entrepreneur, co-creating communities and learning about neurodiversity. She speaks to Lily-Anne Stroobach.

Patricia Cardona

Barbara Jan

Barbara Jan has been working as a transformational coach in The Hague since 2011. She now focuses her professional attention specifically on divorce coaching and is the author of ‘How to Get Divorced in the Netherlands’. A global citizen, originally from Slovenia, she settled in The Hague 24 years ago. Barbara Jan speaks to Lily-Anne Stroobach about her new handbook and divorce coaching.


Fiona Passantino

Fiona PassantinoRolling strikes, waves of resignations,  chronic manpower shortages. They are all signs that our working world needs to change. The covid pandemic did more than infect our bodies, it made us pause to re-examine how and when we work and for what purpose. 

A new handbook on Post-Covid Engagement for executives combines storytelling with research-driven guidelines for improving internal communications and engagement in the post-pandemic world.  

Lily-Anne Stroobach spoke to its author, Fiona Passantino…

Patricia Cardona

Kristine Racine

Kristine Racine – Who is an expat and what does it mean to live away from you home country for a period of time? The answers to this question are reflected in a wealth of documentation that comes into the safekeeping of the Expatriate Archive Centre in The Hague on a regular basis. Kristine Racina, the Director of the centre, works together with a team of volunteers to collect and preserve the life stories of expatriates worldwide for future research. Lily-Anne Stroobach spoke to her about her work that now spans 10 years at the centre.


Marko Fehres

Marko FehresIn this interview Lily-Anne Stroobach speaks to Marko Fehres. Making The Hague a better place to live and work in for all, has been Marko Fehre’s ambition for more than 40 years. Building up communities that need help and creating a sense of togetherness has been his life’s work, and he is a long way from downing his tools.

Patricia Cardona

Patricia Cardona

Patricia Cardona is someone who has taken half a lifetime to come to terms with the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. She is now determined to share her knowledge as a survivor who conquered her trauma. She lives in The Hague and gives workshops on how she managed to reawaken her inner child, claim back her power, feel free at last and at peace with herself.


Mieke Klawer

Mieke KlawerStorytelling that builds bridges connecting disparate parts of The Hague’s social landscape, that’s what the Haags Verhaal does for our multi-cultural city. Now captured in a book featuring more than a 130 communities, this story telling venture run by a group of passionate volunteers, recently picked up the thread again after COVID forced them to take an unscheduled break. In this interview Lily-Anne Stroobach spoke to Haags Verhaal volunteer, Mieke Klawer…

Laurence Blairon

Laurence Blairon

Laurence BlaironA true inspiration for our international community in The Hague, Laurence Blairon, has played several valuable roles in our lives here. Having triumphed over binge eating as she turned 50, she now gives hope to a host of people with the same disorder. I spoke to her about her colourful career paths and her new-found freedom… 

Heleen Weening

Heleen Weening–Making sustainability a household term, the Director of Duurzaam Den Haag, Heleen Weening has been persuading residents of The Hague to separate their garbage, substitute pavement tiles with flowers, plant trees instead of paving, and reduce their carbon footprint for quite some time. She speaks to Lily-Anne Stroobach about her mission


Janet H. Anderson

Janet H. AndersonHow are the International Justice Institutions in The Hague responding to the war in Ukraine? And how are war crimes covered by journalists? Janet H. Anderson, BBC trained journalist and co-host of the Asymmetrical Haircuts podcast talks to Elena Gkiola about the principles of international criminal justice commentary…

Katya de Graaf

Katya de Graaf: What is it like to open your home to war refugees? How can internationals in The Hague help Ukrainians who have had to flee their homeland? Katya de Graaf tells us about her experience when she took in two families…

Joanna Bouma

Joanna BoumaWhat is the effect that the ocean has on our daily lives? Joanna Bouma talks to Lily-Anne Stroobach about the issues that stand in the way of a healthy world by sharing valuable knowledge and insights from her work over the years with marine organizations.

Roger Thurman

Roger Thurman: The voice of Dutchbuzz’s jingles,  entrepreneur and voice over artist Roger Thurman, talks to Lily-Anne Stroobach about his craft, the city of Peace and Justice and much more… 

Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold

Ute Limacher-Riebold – What does it mean to adapt and thrive in another country, to raise multilingual children, and to constantly grow and evolve across cultures? These are some of the topics discussed in this episode with dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold, a trained professional, academic, and expat since birth herself, who empowers internationals to thrive wherever they live by optimizing their communication skills.

Vivian Chiona

Vivian Chiona: the Founder and Director of “Expat Nest”, and a health psychologist herself, talks to DutchbuzZ about the most common mental health complaints of expats. She shares her insights on the impact of the pandemic on the mental well-being of internationals living abroad, and she gives tips for mindfulness and resilience amidst changes.

Thomas Verfuss

Thomas Verfuss – The Hague representative of Journalists For Justice, Thomas Verfuss is always on the ball when it comes to matters of international criminal justice and we at DutchbuzZ have been lucky enough to have him as our regular contributor for the past ten years. Now that the world’s first permanent international criminal court, the ICC, based here in The Hague has a new prosecutor, Thomas has been here to enlighten our international community about what it means for the world of international justice, in this interview with Elena Gkiola.

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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