|USA Day in Voorburg, The Netherlands|
E-mails sent to friends, visions of my sunny Americanized Saturday dancing through my head, I decided to further research the USA Day on-line. I soon discovered that Voorburg was celebrating a 20-year sister-city celebration with
“Temecula!!” I say outloud to myself.
(Or to the dog - the kids are having naptime). I practically hyperventilated under the
cloudy pillow that was incessantly smothering my excitement. My dog, Temecula,
looks at me quizzically. Temecula is
home to Ponte Winery. It’s a beautiful
place (which I’ve visited before) but more than that - Ponte Winery is where my
brother is getting married in just a few months!
(when you’re living half-way across the world) is like. . . referencing your family’s
backyard or something. . . What the. . . how. . . what??? I can’t wait to see what this USA Day has to
offer. I start finalizing details such
as attire and train schedules. Temecula, California
|Dutch girls attempting to spin cotton candy|
We stroll down the road eyeing the vendors popping popcorn and attempting to spin cotton candy onto a stick (and later laugh at discarded fluffy cloud sticking to and out of a sidewalk trash bin. . . I guess the Dutch, for all their love of candy, are not fans of the disintegrating pink sugary mess . . . ) The town baker sells doughnuts and apple pies. We clap along with the marching band, and then, to my utter excitement – a colorguard team, languidly waving their flags, lead the band through the streets (Look, Baby Girl! Mama used to do that in high school and at Baylor!) The marching band is followed by a parade of antique American cars including a Cadillac Sedan de Ville 1956.
A small stage is set-up in front of the church and Voorburg government buildings. We listen attentively to speeches from representatives of Temecula as well as the Ambassador of the
located in The Hague. We snap photos of V and Baby Girl along side
the antique army jeep (driven by a nice young Dutch man wearing a U.S.A.
|U.S. Ambassador & Voorburg Mayor|
The sun is reaching a quite-warm stage of the day. My entire family is starting to sweat and I relish the unfamiliar beads of moisture appearing on my arms as if they were photographs of my childhood. To further my quest of a synchronized, long nap time (we’ve got to prepare for the BBQ!) I spot an array of small American children’s games nestled inside a hedged courtyard. Plastic horseshoes fly through the air while bean bags are hurled toward small plastic cans set up on t.v. tray. With this blog post in mind, I put on an imaginary reporter’s hat and start to chat to a couple of the teenagers entertaining the children. I quickly discover that a large part of the sister-city relationship is a student exchange between Temecula and Voorburg every two years. 50 students from Voorburg (and surrounding areas) submitted a motivation letter and were interviewed. The beaming girls I was speaking to were two of the 24 students who were selected for the program, which meant they would be visiting Temecula in June 2014. She excitedly continued to explain that 24 students from Temecula would be visiting and staying in their homes during next March. (My first thought – oh my goodness, those poor
California kids are
going to freeze. But second thought – well, their adrenaline
and excitement of a once-in-a-lifetime-trip might keep
|Classic Car Parade at USA Day|
I find an approachable red-headed woman smiling and standing off to the side as the Ambassador and Voorburg Mayor chat to each other. I feel a bit like a goofball, but I also know what it’s like to stand in a sea of Dutch-speaking people. I introduce myself and like I thought she might, she lit up with happiness atmeeting another American in a foreign country. She told me that she wasn’t with the government stuff, but rather, she was in charge of the exchange program. We swapped a few stories and she invited me to call her next time I was in Temecula, which I thought was really sweet. My kids’ (and husband’s) energy levels fading, I wished her good-luck with thanks for the conversation and my family departed
Once settled back at home, between putting the kids to nap time, prepping the mojitos, and starting the grill, I quickly researched Voorburg day in Temecula:
26, 2013 (the weekend before my brother’s wedding). We will probably just miss the festivities,
but I hope that there’s at least one Dutch person who has been to Voorburg
wandering amongst the crowd.
|Baby Girl, V, and Little Man in Voorburg|
Although the fireworks didn’t blast, the entire day was one of the most memorable Independence Day celebrations I’ve experienced. I’ve put the American flags away until next year, but I am happy to report that the sun is still shining.
For more information about the Voorburg-Temecula Sister city associations and how to support education and cultural awareness – please see the following: