Farewell to Leiden

I just saw the group through the check-in process here at Schipol Airport.  Will and Ann left earlier this morning (he on his way to our Japan study abroad program and she on her way to meet up with her daughter in Ireland).  Folks over there State-side can expect the group to arrive in Boston on Swissair flight LX52 from Zurich at 7:55PM.  I will be on a later flight today to Italy as I head off on my own post-program adventures.

Here are some final pictures of the group – the last two taken on our good-bye dinner/canal ride last night.  Bitter-sweet time as we wrap up a great experience here in The Netherlands.  As we say in Dutch…Tot Ziens!
group at the library.JPG

final canal ride 1.JPG final canal ride 2


Bikes and Beaches

Here’s to our intrepid Netherlands students —

  • Simone, Will and Christina who pedaled from Leiden to the North Sea town of Katwijk
  • Will, Simone, Caitlin and Cassandra who actually swam in the North Sea!
  • And Samantha who did a fantastic job of managing Dutch public transportation “home” by herself.

bike at Central Station biking

beach love


Final week

We’ve been a little remiss in updating the blog…in part because we’ve been so busy.  Students have all completed their “career interviews” – a project where they get to choose a Dutch person who works in a profession that they are interested in, interview them about the educational path they took to get to that profession, and then compare it with the typical path that someone in the U.S. might take to a similar professional goal.  The students interviewed a veterinarian based out of Friesland, an international educator, a cheese monger, an international security expert, an artist, a minister/social worker, and an early childhood educator.  We eagerly await the presentation of their findings on Friday.

Per usual, we have mixed exploration and adventure in with the classroom sessions (which are an exploration and adventure in their own right).  Saturday took us to Amsterdam and visits to the Rijks Museum (the national museum of art), the NEMO (a children’s museum with a particularly interesting sex ed exhibit called “Teen Facts”), and the Anne Frank Huis.

rijks NEMO Ann Frank Huis

We explored a LOT of the city by foot, including the Dam Square and the new city library, where we enjoyed the café on top with a spectacular view and a visit to IHLIA (the International Homosexual and Lesbian Information-center and Archives).

Lucas IHLIA  Will and Lucas at Dam Square

With darkness not falling until after 10:00PM here in the Netherland at this time of year, some of us stayed in the city late in order to enjoy the nighttime beautydinner evening in A'dam

We were all pretty weary when we finally caught the train to return to our sweet village of Leiden.

A'dam Centraal


A trip to Den Haag (The Hague)

Because so many of the cities are so close together here in The Netherlands, we only had to take a short (15 minute) train ride to get to The Hague.  The majority of the group visited the Escher Museum, housed in what used to be the winter palace of the royal family, and the Binnenof, the seat of the Dutch government.

Den Haag 1 Den Haag   Binnenhof 2

A few of our adventurous eaters tried the traditional Dutch practice of eating raw herring with onions (while trying to dodge the seagulls that are extremely interested in this Dutch “delicacy”).

Herring 2 Herring 1

And we wrapped our day up with a visit to Madurodam, a popular tourist site that puts everything in perspective (sort of). It was fun to see the small versions of many sites that we’ve already seen in this small country.

madurodam  Madurodam 3

Madurodam 2  Madurodam 1

School visits #2 & #3: Visser ‘t Hooft & Joppensz

We have now completed our school visits.  Yesterday’s trip to Visser ‘t Hooft high school provided students with a glimpse into the “tracking” that takes place at this point in the Dutch educational system and they were able to compare notes with other students in small groups.


Today we spent the morning at a Christian (Protestant) elementary school.  Unlike in the United States, religious schools are common and funded as part of the public education system.  Students broke into pairs and spent time in classrooms ranging from our equivalent of kindergarten to 6th grade.  (Fun fact about the Dutch education system:  Unless they are “summer babies”, children start kindergarten on their actual birthdays.  Rather than having a whole group of new kindergarteners in September, the new students trickle in over the course of the academic year.)

IMG_0213[1] IMG_0217[1]

    (Note the green, noise-cancelling “headphones” that some of the students use.)


Translation: Learning is nice.

Museum Night – Leiden

All the students joined for a super fun Museum Nacht, where many of this city’s museums opened their doors to special, late night events – food, drinks, bands, performances of all sorts.  Canal boats rides with ragtime bands, disco dancing with the dinosaurs, chalk art at the university astrology center all added to festivities.





A typical Saturday (NOT)

We offered a range of optional activities to students on Saturday and, being the adventurous spirits that they are, there was lots of participation.  From the food truck festival at the historic PietersKerkPlein…to the Saturday outdoor market…to a relaxing visit to the LeidseHout park and tea house…students took the opportunity to enjoy the end of week one and soak in some much appreciated sunshine.
food truck fest

IMG_0178[1]  market




Thursday’s full day (and evening)

The group left Leiden early in the morning on a train north to the Zuiderzee Museum, a wonderful, living history museum in Enkhuizen in North Holland.  Our time there allowed a hands-on exploration and provided students with food for thought about how the history, culture and geography of The Netherlands might be shaping contemporary Dutch education.

It also allowed for some relaxation on the ferry, some silliness, and some enjoyment of a rain-free day.

We wrapped the day up by stopping in Amsterdam and enjoying our first taste of Dutch pancakes.

And some folks participated in an optional (and very informative) tour of Amsterdam’s red light district, sponsored by the P.I.C. (the Prostitute Information Center).   Many lessons were learned about the deeply rooter Dutch cultural value around “tolerance” — a value that extends far, far beyond prostitution.




School visit #1: Leo Kanner

Today we had our first school visit to Leo Kanner College (a high school designed for university-bound students on the spectrum).  After an introduction to some similarities and differences between Dutch and American educational “tracks”, we got a tour of the school and had a chance to compare cross-national notes with students.  Some of the Leo Kanner students were in the middle of their high-stakes, “end” exams – which will determine if they can move ahead to a research university.  Leo Kanner students have a near 100% success rate (compared with the national +/- 70% average).

leo kannerQuiet!! Examsautism in adultsIntro to Leo Kanner