We have been in Amsterdam for 5 days and over all we are adapted to the new time zone and feeling comfortable with our new home country. We have explored several parts of the city including a "Queer walkiing tour" where we were able to visit the COC, the Homomonument as well as learn about the history of some of the city parks. The next day we traveled to one of the greenest areas in the south, Amsterdam se Bos, and went biking, canoeing and even ziplining. On our third day we visited the Albert Cuyp market, sampled freshly made stroopwafels and ate Indian food. Day four we spent the entire day in the city exploring and learning. We began our morning with a visit to the Amsterdam Museum where we saw an exhibt memorializing the first gay marriage in the world. Our museum trip was followed by some "gezellig" time (Dutch word for "free time or fun time", and we ended up in the Jordaan neighborhood at the home of chef Caro where we created a home cooked meal of the iconic Dutch dish stampot! Included in this blog are the first hand accounts of the boys on our trip.
Elliot - So far, we have done lots of walking on this trip. Every morning after a nice breakfast from our hostel we walk 15 minutes to the CIEE classroom. All of the houses we walk past are beautifully antique looking tall buildings that are covered in greenery. It’s rare to see a house that does not have some kind of flower or vine growing somewhere. Every street corner turned is a new and pretty sight to behold. On Tuesday during our walking tour of the city from our Program Director, Johnathan, we stopped at the Homomonument. It is three pink granite triangles aligned to form one bigger triangle. The pink triangle was used to distinguish gay men from other prisoners in the Holocaust. Each triangle represents either the past, present or future. The point of the triangle points towards the Anne Frank House, the point of the present points towards the WW II monument, and the point of the future points towards the COC (the Human Rights organization in the Netherlands). I have never seen any public art representing my community in the United States, much less something as permanent as granite embedded in the sidewalk. Our history is acknowledged here, unlike my area in the Southern United States and the tour we received from Johnathan showed us that attractions of Amsterdam that are lesser seen by tourists.
Miller - We visited the COC on a queer walking tour of the Netherlands. Jonathan (our Program Director), explained to us that the COC was the first civil rights group in Amsterdam and a major player in the fight for gay rights. The COC was founded in 1946, and its name translates in English to the Center for Culture and Leisure. The name was a cover for their actual activities. We went biking in Amsterdam forest and then canoed in Grote Vijver. While canoeing we say a variety of water birds and stopped to ride a zip line by the lake.
Ripley - Today our activity consisted of a specialized guided tour of the Amsterdam Museum conducted by Mirjam, a friend of our teacher, Katie, who works on the museum diversification. The tour focused on queer moments of Dutch history and gender discussion. Additionally, we received some extra bits of factiod concerning the seasonal fashion exhibit, and how it relates to women’s unfair beauty standards, and interestingly enough - the Dutch involvement in slave trade. After the tour, we were given some free time to roam around the museum on our own. We were directed toward the painting above, which shows a very religious depiction of three pairs of individuals, divided into separate halves of the canvas depending on their gender. The left side (from the models’ perspective) would feature the women, while the right would feature the men, as right was considered to be “righteous". Today’s dinner also doubled as an afternoon activity: our group trekked from the ostentatious Amsterdam Royal Palace to a quiet, charming neighborhood several blocks away called the Jordaan. Here, we met Caro, a delightful chef who graciously welcomed us into her home and kitchen. Almost immediately, a dog approached us, but proved herself as docile. After receiving our instructions we began chopping and peeling an assortment of carrots, potatoes, apples, and onions which would later form three variants of a traditional Dutch dish known as “stamppot”. The dish is a colorful combination of vegetables, paired with slabs of mozzarella for the vegetarians, and meatballs which the meat-eaters prepared themselves on site.
Nick - We visited a downtown food market called Albert Cuyp. Among the many stroopwaffels and friet stands, this student choose a slice of gouda cheese.