Dordt College News

Learning takes a vacation in the Netherlands

August 12, 2009

The Dordt College Concert Choir gave a stellar performance at the Grote Kerk in Dordrecht, a church whose origins go back to the 11th century.  The next morning, the local newspaper, the Drechtsteden Dichtibij, described their performance as

The yearly Dordt alumni and friends “learning vacation” took on international proportions last May with its first tour through the Netherlands.

“Other years, James Schaap and Robb De Haan have taken alumni and friends on a tour of the Great Plains. We wanted to do something similar,” said Professor Leendert van Beek, one of the tour hosts. “Since the concert choir was going to be touring the Netherlands in May, we created a tour that would link up with that event.”

That idea became “Spring Tour to the Netherlands,” a May 11-20 tour that took participants to eleven of the twelve Dutch provinces. Witte Travel of Grand Rapids, Michigan, arranged the lodging and transportation for the trip; Dordt history and foreign language professors Hubert Krygsman and Leendert van Beek hosted, and forty-three individuals joined the tour.

“We wanted to make this program special,” said van Beek.

To do this, van Beek created the tour program himself, basing it upon the SPICE program and van Beek’s summer course, “GEN 253: Dutch Culture and Reformed Worldview,” which also takes place in the Netherlands.

“I shifted things around a bit as there was more of a time constraint than there is with my class,” he said. “But I tried to keep the majority of the program the same.”

Every day had a theme, from “Bring me flowers from Amsterdam” on May 12, which took the visitors to the Keukenhof National Flower Exhibition, to “Things Royal” on May 15, which explored the medieval city of Delft and the royal summer palace of Het Loo.

The group met the Dordt concert choir on May 14 when it performed at the Grote Kerk in Dordtrecht.

“We thought it an appropriate place to get together with the This group of alumni and friends of Dordt College came from all parts of the United States and Canada.   The friendships made during this trip was, for many, their most valuable souvenir.choir,” said van Beek.  “Some of the visitors said that they got the shivers when they were in that church because they could imagine their ancestors worshiping there.”

Worship was a trademark of the trip. The tour followed the history of the Christian Reformed Church, visiting the church in Ulrum where the CRC was first established. They also did a great deal of singing, which people looked forward to.

“We were once singing by the windmills of Kinderdyke, and we had passersby stop and comment on how nice our voices sounded,” said van Beek. 

“When you take a packaged trip, you just see the sights and don’t get the cultural, social, or economic impact,” said Dordt’s special events coordinator and tour planner Dianne De Wit. “Our guests appreciated that it was much, much more than a sightseeing tour.”

Indeed, the alumni and friends were enthusiastic about the trip. One commented that the trip was “the best we have ever experienced,” while another pointed out that the tour was “a wonderful mix of flowers, farms, museums, and churches.”

“The combination of education, entertainment, and devotional experiences offered our group a fine menu for a satisfying tour,” said a participant.

Tasha Daale, a senior at Dordt, went on the tour with her sister Rachel and her grandmother Lucy. She enjoyed seeing Corrie Ten Boom’s house in Haarlem and seeing a Gouda cheese farm.

“Our tour guide, Norbert, made our sometimes long bus rides entertaining,” said Daale. “He kept us all laughing constantly through his wittiness [and] his jokes.”

“We had such a great time,” Daale said. “I think my sister and I would go back in a heartbeat.”

The advancement office is planning to repeat the trip in the spring of 2011.


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