It turns out that an appropriately-placed cheese board, a perfectly-timed coffee and croissant, or a joyfully-poured beer can go a long way for my work with connecting to teachers and students.
THE FULL MEAL
It turns out that a full meal, a real sit-down meal with neighbors can go a long way with contacts to local schools. In our first week here, we were both invited to homes and we invited others to our home for various cheeses, full snacks, and even a traditional Dutch stamppot. From here, the inevitable conversation of “What are you doing here, anyway?” comes up and it allows me to speak about the need to speak to secondary school students. Just like that–I walk away with emails: emails of directors, of teachers, even of parents of teens who “might be perfect” for my work.
It turns out that mentioning kibbeling (Dutch fried fish) at the staff lunch table or buying said table a Tony’s Chocolonely bar can go a long way in gaining access to new ideas. Seriously, I didn’t bring this up for access; it just kind of happens. Around food, there is conversation. After mentioning the kibbeling, people started discussing other foods I have to try which led to where to find such foods which reminded someone of a school in Delft I should visit. And with Tony’s? Well, it just so happened that one professor, in the middle of snapping off her piece, invited me to her next lecture on adolescents and media. Snacks, I thank you.
The bike ride to campus, though important for most days, is still thirty minutes and there are times where that’s just too far in the wet weather of the Netherlands in January. So, I find myself at cafes and terrific work gets done there. I zone in on the computer screen like all of the students around me (my favorite cafe is the one in the city center campus–about a five-minute bike ride from my house). The atmosphere is right to get things done. Finally, when the work is all done, a celebratory beer can help. So far, the Dutch cohort has found ourselves to a few such celebrations where we discuss the work we’ve been doing and the various collaborations we’ve had around the Netherlands. Their conversations inspire me and keep me moving forward the next day.
Sure, this must stop. It really does. The waist can’t get too big. But, to start, it would be a lie to deny food and drink its rightful spot in making important and lasting connections.
Oh! It’s also been really fun with the family–great connection there, too! Enjoy! Prost!