Sunday, 17 July 2011

Dutch Bridgebuilders Discover America

written by John Oostdyk

History in the making!

Dutch Bridgebuilders Discover America

The Summer USA exchange took place in July and August of 2011 with students from South-West Netherlands and the United States.

Read all about the experiences of the South-West Netherlands Bridgebuilder Group in the journal below.

  • Friday July 15th

    On this day the group gathered at Brussels airport. Almost everyone was there an hour in advance, so we were able to check-in well in time. The flight was exciting for most of the Bridgebuilders, as they hadn't flown before, especially as far as the USA. We hung out in Heathrow airport for a little bit then headed for the gate. There we found out that the flight was delayed because the compass in the aircraft scheduled for the flight was broken. Another plane had to be prepared and that took a little time. We got to Boston Logan airport with a delay of about an hour. Because we were one of the first ones off the plane, we got through immigration quickly and we hooked up with our host families on the other side of customs.

    The group split up into Raynham, Brockton and Scituate where we are to spend two days with the families.

  • Saturday July 16th

    The first day of being with the host families.

    The Raynham gang (Renate, Cecilia, Johanne and Madelon) got some picnic lunch together and travelled to Plimoth Plantation at Plymouth, land of the Pilgrims.

    The Scituate gang (Vivien, Johan, Sander and Yvette) had an experience field dressing a lobster that was caught by host Tom Hall earlier that day, then visited Lawson Tower and sailed the Atlantic with two-time Pulitzer prize winner Bill Ketter, and had a BBQ party with about 20 family friends.

    The Brockton gang (Diane and Remco) checked out the neighborhood including the golf course, took a dip in the swimming pool, had fun playing around with the home cinema system, and in the evening they had a grilled dinner.


  • Day 3: Sunday July 17th

    In the morning everyone went with their host families to their respective Churches. In the afternoon:

    The Scituate gang moved to Brockton this day, and traveled there by way of Plymouth and checked out Plymouth Rock and the May Flower II. Raynham did the same thing, while the Brockton gang checked out the city of Boston.


  • Day 4: Monday July 18th
    On a smouldering hot day the group got together early in the morning, traveling to Boston city. We visited North Church, did the SkyWalk on Prudential Tower, had pizza lunch at Benevento's , saw Paul Revere's house, and spend a few moments in Faneuil Hall.


  • Tuesday July 19th
    Beach day!
    Today we travelled with the group to the beach at Duxbury ( where we spent most of the day getting a sun tan. Most of the group got burnt instead though. Especially on those places that the sun-tan lotion couldn't reach.

    Once the sand flies got too much to handle, and after having gotten a nice ice cream, we left for home.

    duxbury2 brockton duxbury

    In the evening we went to a minor league baseball game (the Brockton Rox) where we occupied our own skybox, had a real stadium dinner and had an encounter the with Brockton Rox mascotte!

  • Wednesday July 20th

    We left for the train station early in the morning and headed for Boston South Station. There we got on a Bolt Bus that took us straight into New York City! The bus to take us to Philadelphia wouldn't come for 5 hours, so we stored our luggage for a few hours and went exploring. First we hit Times Square and then we went up the Empire State Building.
    The Empire State Building is known for its long waiting hours, but because this day happened to be the HOTTEST day ever in NYC, the line was very short.
    After getting dinner, we headed for the bus to go to Philadelphia.

    In hot and very humid Philly, Brian from the "" picked us up in actual yellow schoolbus to take us to Phoenixville where we threw ourselves in the pool.

    After he dropped them off to catch the bus to New York, Boston host coordinator Ralph Paine sent an email to the Atlantic Bridge office: 'this group was spectacular - it was a pleasure to provide them with what I hope was a memorable experience''. Way to go Bridgebuilders! If Ralph says you a great team, you really are!

    newyork2 empire1

  • Day 7: Thursday July 21st


    Today we met Michael Flott who works at the Phoenixville YMCA and spent a whole day exploring the magnificent facility! (but mostly the pool though as it was still smokin' hot outside). In the evening most of us watched a movie at our host family's, the Hytha's house!

  • Friday July 22nd

    The temperatures were rising steadily. We spend the morning at the air-conditioned visitor center at Valley Forge, we went to the super large and cool King of Prussia mall where we spent the rest of the day.
    valley2 valley1

  • Saturday July 23rd

    Our visit to Philadelphia was cut short because of the extreme humidity. But we spent about an hour in the morning talking to Jack Kennedy about the Duck Boat tragedy that happened to a Hungarian Bridgebuilder group only a year ago. We did visit the historic district and had lunch inside the amazing Reading Terminal market.
    The rest of the day was spent at the movie theater!

    philly2 penns philly1 movie

  • Sunday July 24th

    After church in the morning, we prepared for a pool party and barbeque with the local youth. We had a ton of fun hanging out together!

    phoenix4 phoenix2 phoenix3 phoenix1

  • Monday July 25th

    It was early rising as we prepared to travel to New Holland, PA where Prof. John Bechtold waited for us to take us to visit an Amish family. Sam Riehl answered every one of our questions about Amish life. We had lunch at Carol's and visited the Turkey Hill for a super exclusive tour of the ice cream factory. The temperatures were still high, but inside we huddled together in temperatures that dropped to minus 25 degrees celcius!
    In the evening we visited another Amish home, where Sally Esch prepared a proper Amish dinner. It was super delicious!

    As Monday is laundry day, the laundry hung out to dry everywhere. But it started to rain, and the Bridgebuilders rushed out to help get the laundry in! Awesome job, guys and girls!


  • Day 12: Tuesday July 26th

    First order of business today was visiting John Bechtold's workplace: Messiah college in Grantham, PA. The group went kayaking and then visited a HUGE Bass Pro store (outdoor/hunting) store. In the store, some of the Dutch even held a gun for the first time ever! Quite an experience!
    After this we rushed over to Hershey, PA for a quick tour of the Hershey World's Chocolate Tour! We had dinner in a diner and then did some shopping at the nearby Outlet Mall.

  • Wednesday July 27th

    After a spectacular breakfast at our hosts the Kreiders and a lazy morning, we headed out in the afternoon to Shamokin Dam/Sunbury to see the sights and sounds of that amazing region!


  • Thursday July 28th

    Our host families took wonderful care of us as we headed out to visit the Human Services department where we learned about the social services available to the locals. We were treated to a special tour of the Butter Krust Bakery, a bread factory. We spent some time in the Prayer House and heard about the cool things happening there. Next up was the Refuge, a youth hangout still under construction. After a little afternoon rest we gathered at the church where the band "" performed for us and we gave our first country presentation.

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  • Friday July 29th

    Our day off was spent at Knoebels Park near Shamokin Dam. An entertainment park with free admittance where you pay for rides separately.

    knoebles1 knoebles3 knoebles2

  • Saturday July 30th

    The longest travel day in the States. We headed for Wappingers Falls in New York state. Before we got there, we swung by the Holland American bakery of one of our drivers Sam Valkema. We ate some 'stroopwafels' and had a fun time!

    At Wappingers Falls we were treated to some Italian icecream before we headed off with our host families.


  • Day 17: Sunday Juy 31st

    Day with our host families and preparing for the Service Project in Poughkeepsie.

  • Days 18 – 21: Monday – Thursday August 1 – 4

    Service Project in Poughkeepsie

    Four and a half days of mayhem and fun working alongside about 90 American youth in a Service Project. There were three tracks the kids could sign up for: working with underprivileged kids, working with old people in retirement homes, and hammers & nails – a building project.

    We did another country presentation here and had a blast!


  • Friday August 5th

    After a visit to a Wallmart and lunch at a proper New York diner, we headed out again to New Providence, NJ.


  • Saturday August 6th

    New York City!!
    We headed out early to catch to train to arrive in New York City on a reasonable schedule. There was so much to do! We checked out Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Plaza and Central Park. In the evening we attended a Broadway musical produced by Dutch very own Joop van den Ende: Sister Act at the Broadway Theater on Broadway.

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  • Sunday August 7th

    New York City!! (continued).
    Early day again as we headed out on the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Heading back over Wall Street, via China Town to the Macy's department store (with the wooden escalators!) Some more souvenir shopping and it was time to head back to New Providence.

    newyork6 chinatown

  • Monday August 8th

    Heading home!! A lazy day spent packing up our things and getting ready to leave for home. It has been an exciting time, and we all had many more stories to tell!