I'm so grateful to the members of ANCOR (the American Netherlands women club of Rotterdam) to have shared the typical Thanksgiving tradition together with my family in the center of Rotterdam. When I received their invitation to join the celebration of the Dutch American Friendship Day at the Wilhelminapier last spring, I had never heard of this club…. And that is a shame on me because I try to connect with all 171 nationalities as Rotterdam vice-mayor responsible for integration. How could I have missed this connection?
So I invited a small delegation of ANCOR to learn more about the club’s history and its social purpose. ANCOR has a long impressive history. The club started quite soon after WO II thanks to the Marshall Plan that generated economic recovery and brought American businessmen with their wives in Rotterdam who were helped to integrate by their Dutch neighbors, women and this club live on till this day.
I was especially surprised that ANCOR not only makes an effort to connect Americans, and other internationals with Dutch women to socialize, but also feel strongly committed to the city. Since long, these women have dedicated good works to the sick and the needy of Rotterdam, like Havenzicht. And they even reach out to international projects within the worldwide organization of American women clubs overseas. The ANCOR delegation told me that the combination of pleasure mixed with charity is a typical American tradition. Also at Thanksgiving money last Saturday money was raised for good works oversea.
This tradition is what we need in this city. It resonates with my ambition: to connect the people of Rotterdam, to learn from each other, to share the identity of being a Rotterdammer despite of and thanks to our differences. And to connect as citizen of the world around the world.
At the meeting in the City Hall, the ANCOR delegation asked me to help to find new members as this club is aging and many active expatriates have been leaving. These days, expatriates come and go at a more higher pace. I'm looking forward to work closely together with ANCOR to strenghten the women networks in Rotterdam. But there is another angle to it. I'm also as vice mayor responsible for Innovation. There are new ways to connect, by social media for example twitter and social sites like meet-up. The group of internationals in Rotterdam is growing, more event-driven than club-driven but still eager to share activities.
Thanks to a very warm Thanksgiving I was able to get to know the ANCOR club much better and it's traditions. A remarkable fantastic club, till next time soon!