March 23, 2019

Wassenaar: VVD reaches out to the expat community

Caroline Klaver-Bouman, during her speech in Wassenaar.

By Guido Lanfranchi.

On Tuesday March 6th, VVD Wassenaar and Diplomat Magazine co-organized a forum for the expat community of Wassenaar. How would the municipality of their dreams look like?

Tuesday March 6th, Wassenaar. The environment around the beautiful Auberge De Kieviet was particularly lively. A number of people entered the hotel’s reception room. Some of them came from The Netherlands; many others, although residents in Wassenaar, came from all corners of the world.

Among them, several Ambassadors, diplomats, and expat workers residing in the pretty municipality neighboring The Hague.

H.E. Ms. Sahar Ghanem, Ambassador of Yemen.

H.E. Ms. Sahar Ghanem, Ambassador of Yemen,  H.E. Ms. VestineNahimana, Ambassador of Burundi, and the Charge d’affaires of Venezuela, Mr. Alvaro Sanchez Cordero attended the event, together with diplomats from the Embassies of the United States, Venezuela, and India. At the entrance, the guests were welcomed by VVD members Gerbrand Nijman and Caroline Klaver-Bouman, together with a special guest: a cardboard Mark Rutte!

In a crowded reception room, Mr. Nijman took the floor to kick-start the discussion, praising the collaboration between VVD and Diplomat Magazine in organizing the event. After a brief explanation of the expats’ right to vote, Mr. Nijman left the floor to Ms. Klaver-Bouman, VVD’s first candidate in Wassenaar.

H.E. Ms. Vestine Nahimana, Ambassador of Burundi.

As the leading candidate of the team, Ms. Klaver-Bouman briefly introduced the audience to VVD’s basic tenet, freedom of choice for the citizens, under the shelter of a light, effective state.

Moving on local issues, Ms. Klaver-Bouman outlined the three main points of VVD’s project for Wassenaar: this beautiful village’s political independence; the improvement of local municipal services; and a precise solution, “the N44 tunnel”, against the chief disturbing problem, traffic.

Guido Lanfranchi, Marisa Ansink and the Chargé d’affaires of Venezuela, Mr. Alvaro Sanchez Cordero.

Later on, Laurens van Doeveren, Ms. Klaver-Bouman’s “running mate” in VVD’s list, took the floor. His experiences in the Dutch Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he explained, drew him closer to the international community in The Netherlands, making him more aware of expats’ problems.

Mr. Gerbrand Nijman.

Finally, the Deputy Head of Mission of the British Embassy in The Hague, Mr. Nicholas Heath, engaged the audience, presenting himself as a “professional expat.” Having himself been an expat several times, he explained how feeling at home in a new place is a slow and gradual process, that starts as an obligation, but ends up being a joy. As a part of this process, he stressed the relevance of expats’ political engagement, encouraging all those present to participate in the local elections.

After this introduction, Mr. Nijman and Ms. Klaver-Bouman opened the floor for a lively, interactive discussion with the audience.

The participants took the floor, outlining the problems that expats might face upon their arrival in Wassenaar: they stressed especially issues related with language and cultural differences, with a specific focus on difficult situations for families with children. But the discussion was not focused on problems only.

H.E. Ms. Sahar Ghanem, Ambassador of Yemen, Mr. Edwin Klaver, H.E. Ms. VestineNahimana, Ambassador of Burundi and Caroline Klaver-Bouman.

The attendees and the organizers engaged in an effort to come up with new ideas, proposals, and solutions. Among them, the organization of more events for expats, the availability of communications in English, and the improvement of the expats’ welcome in Wassenaar.

On this last point, the suggestions were copious, ranging from the creation of a voluntary welcome committee, to the establishment of a contact point for expats in the town hall.

During the night, VVD and Dimplomat Magazine also seized the opportunity to launch their new initiative, the Expat and Diplomatic Advisory Council. This Council is a permanent body aimed at collecting expats’ issues, in order to address them in an effective way. As Mr. Nijman suggested in his concluding remarks, while many political actors talk about improving the situation of expats in Wassenaar, only few of them actually do something in this regard.

As demonstrated over the night, VVD Wassenaar wants to be among those acting, and acting for the better. On this final note, Mr. Nijman invited the participants to enjoy drinks and conversations in the Auberge De Kieviet’s reception room. The attendees gladly took up the suggestion, remaining at length to exchange more ideas and insights.

While the participants were gradually leaving the reception room, VVD members were already thinking about the expats’ suggestions, trying to devise new solutions to make Wassenaar the municipality of their dreams.


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