"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad

 

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad

Series of blogs about Dutch people working and living abroad. Managing language schools in Bocas del Toro, organizing slum tours in Manila, running a tours & excursions agency in Beijing or maintaining a community based eco lodge on the northern edge of Usumbara Mountain

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #1: Ingrid Lommers - Spanish at Locations

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #1: Ingrid Lommers - Spanish at Locations

spanish by the sea

Who?

  • Ingrid (Ins) Lommers

Where?

  • Panama and Costa Rica

Which initiative?

  • Spanish at Locations

What?

  • Spanish Language courses, accommodation, travel & outdoor activities, volunteering

Something special?

  • Spanish courses at 5 locations: Enroll in spanish courses AND have the freedom to travel around. Five seamless schools allow you to choose your own adventure without losing academic continuity. Stay put in one place, pick your own path, or join the Travelling Spanish Classroom on a 4 week guided trip to experience true adventure-education.
  • Camping at “Gekui Pacuare River Camp”, Turrialba: 2, 3 or 4 day rafting trip on the Pacuare. It can also be part of a hiking trip. Once at the campsite, you will sleep on elevated platforms that will put you in direct contact with the sights and sounds of the tropical rain forest. Extra possibility: candlelight family style dinners!
  • Virtual Spanish Courses: Jumpstart or retain what you learned: length, location and topic of classes can be customized.

Read more

And last but not least...a little insight in 'Why'

(by: Ingrid Lommers)

After deciding I had to be a business person, make money, buy and do everything I desired, I subsequently finished business school and took a job. I was only 20 years old and one day I looked out of the windows of the fancy office of the importer/exporter company of sports shoes where I was working at the time.  I stared at a pond with ducks floating and playing around and I was actually a bit of jealous of them. I thought “is this all, is this where I am going to be the rest of my life between 8 and 5 from Monday till Friday?”. So I decided to continue studying to prepare to do something other than selling shoes. I enrolled at the University of Amsterdam to study economical development with a specialization on Latin America. As a part of writing my thesis, I went for 10 months to Surinam and learned about development issues in third world countries.  Looking back, I think, that is when I developed my “fever for the tropics“.

In 1993, I got the opportunity to go to Costa Rica, to work on a project in development aid at the National University of Costa Rica. While my work gave me good experience in development, I lost my motivation to stay in that field. I found that I would be more satisfied to work on my own projects and be able to do something to create sustainable progress. As a result, I began to invest my time in various jobs in tourism, including becoming a raft and tour guide. The culture, language, nature and people of Costa Rica touched me deeply and I decided to stay longer.

While I worked as a raft and tour guide I met Fernando, native of Turrialba, Costa Rica and we started to work and live together. When our first daughter was born in 1997, I  began to study Spanish and work at different language schools in Costa Rica. In 1998 I had the opportunity to go to Bocas del Toro – Panama to set up a school for a company established in Costa Rica. In the beginning Bocas was not known by international tourists, but little by little, the school began to grow.

I had learned some limited Spanish while being a student in Salamanca in Spain,  where I developed a love for the language. Several years later I enrolled in a Spanish school in San Jose but at that time could not afford to continue my studies. As a result, I learned Spanish the hard way, while working at my various jobs. This experience is what gave birth to the dream of Spanish at Locations, making learning Spanish affordable.

Four years later, the birth of a school in Turrialba in Costa Rica fulfilled our dream to combine Spanish classes with river adventures on the Pacuare River. Fernando had been operating a river camp there for many years. His hobby, breeding horses, turned out to be useful when we started to organize our own horse ride trips in the surroundings of Turrialba. Three years later, we opened a third branch, this time in the highland town of Boquete, Panama. This school is also called “Spanish by the River” as the town of Boquete is located near Panama´s best white water. Six years later we started two additional schools, one in Panama City and the other in Puerto Viejo – Costa Rica. The creative skills and abilities of Fernando are on display at our campuses. Coincidentally, the ages of our three daughters match the ages of our first three schools. Our three daughters and our son have been our motivation to continually work hard, improve and enjoy the schools!

Although in recent years the relationship between Fernando and me has changed, we continue to be business partners and to share a common vision regarding Spanish at Locations. New people have joined us that don’t share our history but they are realizing their own dreams within this company. Without them it would definitely not be the same! Because of them, I was able to not only finish my Master Degree in Spanish as a foreign Language, but also to enjoy what I really like to do, teach Spanish. I am fortunate to be active in the beautiful surroundings of our schools and dedicate time to other important things in my life.

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #7: Tessa de Goede de Ordoñez - Tess Unlimited

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #7: Tessa de Goede de Ordoñez - Tess Unlimited

Image

Who?

  • Tessa de Goede de Ordoñez

Where?

  • Guatemala

Which Initiative?

  • Tess Unlimited

What?

  • Surgery of babies and children with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate, in close partnership with local hospitals, health posts and midwives throughout Guatemala
  • Other projects throughout Guatemala where Tess' team and local+international volunteers work hands-on: milk project, orthodontic care, psychological guidance, speech therapy

Something special?

  • Parents who have a child with a cleft lip or an clet palate have to try to overcome fear and their shame. Group therapy sessions, between parents of different children, also help them become more stable with their situation. Tess Unlimited provides psychological guidance for both parents and children, through experienced Guatemalan and international volunteers 
  • Campamento Sonrisas is a 10-day summer camp (yearly in November) organized especially for young adults born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. During this week they have different trips and activities to create an environment where they can share experiences, make friendships, develop social skills and have some fun. Each year Tessa and her team are looking for specialized volunteers like psychologists, speech pathologists, drama teachers (workshops) and creative volunteers

And last but not least...a little insight in 'Why'

In 2008, Tessa first discovered the beauty of South America. Not only because of its spectacular nature, but also because of the work she was doing as a volunteer. Tess began by caring for handicapped children in Peru and ended up as an English teacher in Ecuador. Eventually, she lost her heart to Guatemala. Tess perfected her Spanish and started working in a local public school and in the hospital with babies born with cleft lip and palate. This paved the way for other projects and ideas and led to the foundation of Tess Unlimited. Tessa has lived in Guatemala ever since, and she is fortunate to be able to work with a fantastic local/international team, supported by the Tess foundation based in The Netherlands.

Read more

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #8: Frans Betgem - Green Trails

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #8: Frans Betgem - Green Trails

Image

Who?

  • Frans Betgem

Where?

  • Thailand

Which Initiative?

  • Green Trails

What?

  • Green Trails: 1-2-3-+4 day(s) trekking tours, trails and exploration tours with an emphasis on and respect for local culture
  • Chiang Mai a la Carte: "umbrella" website about Chiang Mai with a focus on festivals, traditions, architecture, culture and meaningful encounters
  • Tong Bai Elephant Tour: elephant friendly day tour about the issue of the involvement of captive elephants in tourism
  • Chiang Mai on Three Wheels: Chiang Mai tours by samlor (bicycle taxi)

Something special?

  • Chiang Mai on Three Wheels, a social tourism enterprise, aims to preserve the samlor, a Chiang Mai heritage, as a means of transportation in the future. With these samlor tours they try to improve the livelihood of the taxi drivers by offering them jobs and (extra) education. In the old days, before the age of the automobile, there were hundreds of samlors in Chiang Mai. Nowadays there are less than 70.
  • Family Tours: these tours include trekking but also interactive and educational elements, with several trekking itineraries in the Chiang Dao area. This area is very suitable for family tours; there are lots of villages and lots of children.

And last but not least...a little insight in 'Why'

Frans Betgem is a Dutch national who has been living in Chiang Mai for more than 20 years. Frans' travels brought him to Southeast Asia in 1987. In 1990 he started working for Baobab Travel as a tourleader in Thailand. Frans worked for this company in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Australia from 1990 until 1998. In 2012 he started his own business in Chiang Mai, Tiger Trail, nowadays re-branded as Green Trails. Green Trails commit to offer the best and most innovative cultural, outdoor and trekking tours in North Thailand. Green Trails believes in sustainable and responsible travel and always tries to create meaningful experiences, both for visitors and for the host communities. 

Read more

Emigreren en vertrekken naar het buitenland - WorldSupporter Theme
Crossroad: region
"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #5: Roos Tieges & Ingrid van der Straaten - TCDF Thailand

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #5: Roos Tieges & Ingrid van der Straaten - TCDF Thailand

Image

Who?

  • Roos Tieges
  • Ingrid van der Straaten

Where?

  • Thailand

Which Initiative?

  • TCDF, Thai Child Development Foundation
  • Eco-Logic, the 'Resort for Charity'

What?

  • The Thai Child Development Foundation (TCDF) supports local children in their development by making sure that customized medical care and education is also available to underprivileged children and children with disabilities or learning disorders.
  • Local Thai team members provide social support programs (medical care, education) together with daily life caregivers to underpriviledged children in their own village/community
  • Other projects where TCDF team and local+international volunteers work hands-on: emergenct funds, physiotherapy, nutrition programs, scholarships, occupational training center and perma culture farm, community learning center

Something special?

  • At TCDF they believe that the social outreach work can only be done well by working with local people who can develop a long-term bond of trust with the children and their caregivers through constant communication.
  • TCDF take care of children in their own community, without taking them out of their homes and never longer than needed
  • International and Thai volunteers open up the worlds of the children and the members of the forest community by sharing their (often unique!) skills and knowledge within the community learning center, yoga center and/ or on the organic farm.
  • TCDF try to limit damage to the environment. They are strict in handling garbage, reusing garbage, and recycling.
  • Eco-Logic, Resort for Charity with tourist accommodation, workshops, and tour packages, is on the same property of the Foundation. This sister company of TCDF is a Thai for profit company and is TCDF's main sponsor.

And last but not least...a little insight in 'Why'

TCDF is founded by a charitable Thai/Dutch family and has supported children in need on a direct and day to day base in Thailand since 2004. Ingrid van der Straaten has been TCDF’s full time volunteer and ambassador since the very beginning when she, and Rosalie decided to make a difference and dedicate their lives to this initiative! The other TCDF's directing founder, Rosalie Tieges, lives with her Thai family within walking distance of the Foundation; other Dutch board members live in Holland.The TCDF Community is a global network of people that believe in acting local and contributing to make a difference. The Thai board members are all people from the village including the village headman and active parents of children in the social programs.

Read more

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #4: Miriam Levie - TEFL in Spain & Italy

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #4: Miriam Levie - TEFL in Spain & Italy

Image

Who?

  • Miriam Levie

Where?

  • Málaga, Spain

Which initiative?

  • TEFL-in-Spain, TEFL-in-Italy

What?

  • TEFL courses on location and online TEFL courses, Teacher Development & Spanish or Italian courses

Something special?

  • Trinity College London Certificate courses: The Trinity College London Certificate TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is the highest TEFL qualification (same as the CELTA), validated by Trinity College London and recognised by the British Council and employers worldwide.
  • Teacher development courses: specialist course modules to improve your teaching skills and to be able to teach to various target groups
  • Career services: There is a big demand for English teachers in Spain and Italy. Compared to other European countries, the level of English is quite low, so Spanish and Italian people need to improve their English in order to find a good job in Italy or abroad.

Read more

And last but not least...a little insight in 'Why'

Miriam, nowadays Director and Course Tutor, gained her first experience in teaching English as a foreign language when she came to Spain in January 2005 to study Spanish. Spanish people have a generally low level of foreign language skills and Miriam found out there was a big demand for English teachers. First, she started giving one-on-one classes and later Miriam was offered a job at a language school, followed by a position as an in-company English teacher. She enjoyed it so much that she realised teaching foreign languages was her true vocation. Miriam understands what students are going through, because she knows exactly what it is like to learn another language. After several years of teaching Miriam wanted to further develop her skills related to the theory and practice in the area of teaching English and decided to study again. She received a Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics at the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid. In this programme she specialised in Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Training and decided to set up a high quality TEFL school with other experienced teacher trainers.

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #6: Frank Weijand - Merazonia

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #6: Frank Weijand - Merazonia

Image

Who?

  • Frank Weijand

Where?

  • Ecuador, Mera, Amazon rainforest

Which Initiative?

  • Merazonia

What?

  • Wildlife conservation organization
  • Merazonia combines passion for nature with a professional approach on animal care and release, along with rainforest conservation and wildlife monitoring.

Something special?

  • Merazonia was truly built by volunteers for volunteers (and animals of course). Volunteers help the local team in the day to day care of the wildlife.
  • Donations are vital for the animal care and release projects of Merazonia. For the wellbeing of the animals they do not receive tourists in the reserve, nor do they get any governmental funding.
  • The World Wildlife Fund has called the area from Baños to Mera, “A Gift to the Earth” because of its beauty and biological importance to the region. 

And last but not least...a little insight in 'Why'

All founding members of Merazonia have a background in volunteering and worked as volunteers at several wildlife centres throughout the continent, before joining forces. The first work started in the fall of 2004, with every partner investing his own money in the project. Frank and his team are proud to have built this centre with their own hands, along with the many volunteers that joined them. Volunteers joined from day one in the heavy physical labor, carrying massive amounts of rocks and sand, and dragging beams through the forest. The only help they had was from a loyal workhorse Monty. Little by little the centre started to take shape. Supporting Merazonia has direct effect: with the help of volunteers and donors they implement successful and groundbreaking rehabilitation programs.

Read more

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #2: Juliette Kwee - Smokey Tours

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #2: Juliette Kwee - Smokey Tours

Image

Who?

  • Juliette Kwee

Where?

  • The Philippines, Manila

Which initiative?

  • Smokey Tours

What?

  • Smokey Tours offers Slum Tours, Bicycle Tours, Market Tours & several other tours for visiting travelers & local Filipinos.

Something special?

  • Slum tour: slums are a whole other world. A world which at first glance seems so different to what the majority of the visitors are used to. We see people working hard peeling garlic, scavenging for recyclable goods and making food out of leftovers from garbage bins. Life is tough, it's dirty but it's not a depressing place. People are smiling and getting on with life. Visit one of Manila's poorest areas where people try to live and work and call home. Understand the issues that the residents face, and discover resilience in its truest form.
  • Cemetery tour: discover why some people choose to live inside a cemetery and learn about the beliefs and superstitions of Filipino's.
  • Education & skills development: Smokey Tours educates impoverished people to become professional tour leaders.Tour leaders of Smokey Tours improve their English, learn tour leading and leadership skills. 

Read more

And last but not least...a little insight in 'Why'

In January 2011, Juliette Kwee organized a photo tour for Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin de Porres. This ‘photo walk’ portrayed the way children live in the area of Tondo, specifically Smokey Mountain. 20 local photographers volunteered and donated their photographs. Juliette discovered the talents of the residents of Smokey Mountain: they tell stories about their neighbourhood with passion, pride and dignity.

The idea of a special tour was born. Juliette started recruiting and coaching potential tour leaders. To professionally develop the tours Juliette reached out to international likeminded organizations that were already offering slum tours in Brazil and India.

The Smokey Mountain tour became Smokey Tours’ signature tour (hence the name of the organization). Since the very beginning all the profit made with the Smokey Tours is donated to local NGO's. Smokey Tours now offers several different tours and keeps seeking improvement and growth opportunities.

Connecting Two Worlds (source Voluntourism.ph)

The Dutch psychologist Juliette Kwee, who has been living in the Philippines since 2008 and not new to volunteer activities, felt something stir within her during her first visit to Smokey Mountain, a poverty stricken area located in Tondo, Manila. Kwee could not help but notice the difference between Smokey Mountain and its neighboring area, Makati City. Kwee shares, “I went to Smokey Mountain and I was so touched by the community. But I also sometimes go to this posh park in Makati and I was shocked. It’s only half an hour from each other. I started thinking, ‘how can we connect this two worlds?’”

Kwee knew she has to use a tool that will appeal to Filipinos from all walks of life. She concluded: “What do Filipinos like? Filipinos like taking photos. We organized a photowalk and called some photographers to take photos of the children and to show the resiliency of the community.” The photos, which were put up in an exhibition, sent a powerful message that one could be happy without material things as long there is love, food, and the opportunity for education.

Kwee says that the special tour took shape when she worked with the Smokey Mountain residents and area officers. “I met some tanods at that time and I was amazed at how they could talk about where they’re from and what they’re doing with pride. “Why is there not a slum tour here?” she shares. Kwee sought the help of Chris Way, the co-founder of India-based Reality Tours & Travel, which won the Community Award at the World Travel and Tourism Council's (WTTC) 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards Ceremony in Madrid, Spain. “I want to train people who can take their own initiative. To be empowered and to take responsibility. People are smart enough to make their own decisions,” Kwee says.

Smokey Tours has expanded its list of activities. Aside from the slum tour, tourists can now explore Manila while cycling, go to cemeteries and other local spots, and experience Old Manila. As a testament to the organization’s excellence, “Smokey Tours” has been ranked number one on TripAdvisor.

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #3: Paulien & Karst - The Giggling Tree

"The Dutch" Working & Living Abroad #3: Paulien & Karst - The Giggling Tree

Image

Who?

  • Paulien Leisink & Karst Draaisma

Where?

  • China, Yangshuo

Which initiative?

  • The Giggling Tree

What?

  • Guesthouse accomodation close to Yangshuo (20 min bicyle ride)

Something special?

  • Cluster of authentic farmhouses: Paulien and Karst transformed a cluster of old authentic farmhouses, surrounding a courtyard, into a guesthouse in the Chinese countryside. The houses have been built with adoben which keep the rooms relatively cool in the hot summers.
  • Cookingschool: An Australian cookingexpert has set up a great cookingstudio. After a visit to the local market  you will cook 5 dishes by yourself with great instructions from the Chinese staff.
  • Local charity: The Giggling Tree and guests support Chinese people on a local scale: a local primary school, an elderly home, Chinese individuals

Read more

And last but not least...a little insight in 'Why'

Paulien and Karst travelled around the world for 2 years, working as volunteers in projects with orphans and handicapped children. They travelled from Eastern Europe to Afrika and Asia. China was the last big stop. From there they took the Trans Siberia Express, back to Holland. After 2 years, they wanted to travel again and started working as tourleaders, mostly in China.

Karst discovered a complex of old farmhouses while cycling around and saw the opportunity to start their own guesthouse, a longtime dream. It turned out that all the owners (27!!!) were willing to give the place out for rent. Negotiations could start. When all the owners were satisfied they pressed their thumb in red ink and the contract was signed.

The big metamorphosis could start: 80.000 rooftiles have been cleaned, removed, reput, walls have been broken down, rebuilt, rendered and painted, bathrooms were built, floors relayed, electricity has been put in and a watertank and a watersystem have been installed. These are just a few things that were necessary to turn this beautiful  authentic complex into a special guesthouse. Located on a splendid spot, about 5 km outside of Yangshuo in the middle of ricepaddies and Karstmountains.

Since 2012 they also opened a relaxgarden and since 2013 an outdoor swimmingpool is in use. In the Summer of 2013 Paulien and Karst made another dream come true by adopting their new son Raaf, from Ethiopia. Since September 2013 their oldest son Pelle is attending primary school in Guilin.

The Giggling Tree is managed by Dutch managers (other than Paulien and Karst) and their Chinese team. Periodically, new managers are welcomed at The Giggling Tree.

Wonen in het buitenland - WorldSupporter Theme
Comments, Compliments & Kudos

Add new contribution

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Search