Friday, April 9, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 Amsterdam Fieldtrip


Wednesday, April 7, 2010. Sandra. While Dieter did a site visit at ACTA (Amsterdam Dental School) to see the latest in dental teaching technologies,... Karannina, Alexander, and myself had a downtown Amsterdam adventure. We walked across the 'dam square' without swearing :) Bicycles are everywhere! I am thankful that we have changed our plans for using the bicycles in Zwolle, instead of Amsterdam, since it is rather dangerous to bicycle here. Practically everyone is on a bike: women in high heels and smoking, people talking on their cell phones (handies), parents carrying children either behind or in front of the bicycle in numerous styles of carriers, men in tuxedos and bowties, business men in suites with briefcases, people carrying puppies and dogs, carrying groceries or tools, etc. No helmets and the bicycles are all 'geeky' - sitting upright with handles up and out and usually only one speed. There are more bicycles than people in this city and country. What a practical mode of transportation. Did you know that most people have a 'sunday' bicycle and a work bicycle? Interestingly, we saw numerous 'coffee shops', which we were informed, sell more than coffee - the drug scene is more lax here, as indicated in the marguana seeds and plants on display in shops. Beautifully crafted canals of water and bridges are seen everywhere and are more numerous than in Venice. After wandering around, we did the more academic aspect of the day. We informed ourselves of the lengthy history of Amsterdam in their museum, then met Dieter and went through the Anne Frank house and ended the day with the Red Light District. (Our meals consisted of bread, cheese, juice, a delicous falafal kabob and fruit.) I will explain some of the highlights of these sites. The Amsterdam History museum highlights: the long process of controlling water and claiming land, the economic boom from the grain and fabric trade with the East and West India Company (VOC), learning how a church bell is made and tuned, famous Dutch painters such as Rembrandt and more recently Van Gogh, how the Dutch developed a social support network for the poor, orphaned, sick and old people, the interesting Relix Meritus building which celebrated many disciplines including music, physics, philosophy, and painting, how new ideas, including different morals/values have been encouraged and celebrated, and how the bicycle became the mode of transportation in the late 1800s. The Reformation of course had a tremendous impact and this was reflected in the architecture of the new churches. This information triggered an amazing discussion about the architecture of our home church - questions about the round shape of the sanctuary, a mobile pulpit, chairs and not benches, no large cross with a statue of a dying Jesus on it, no gold or other fancy ornamental decorations - imagine travelling across the ocean and learning about the architecture of our own church. Karannina and Alexander will look at the structure of our church differently when we return. The Anne Frank house had a simple, poignant message: make the best of every situation and treat everyone with respect. Karannina and Alexander have different books depicting Anne Frank's life. Walking through the Red Light District provided enough exposure to make the discussions interesting for the one and one half hour drive back to Zwolle - mostly questions of 'why' and 'yuck'. This day contained enough learning material to make up for a number of fieldtrips. It would be better to stretch out so many events over more days, but time and money talk, and so we have a few days that are packed.

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