To the children and to the people who care for these children, to the creators and the promotors and the silent fans who haven’t found their moment yet to actively contribute. Welcome, we’re happy you are here! We want to get to know you: who you are and where you have been, your strengths and ambitions, your hopes and dreams, the things that scare you and what you need help with. Like-hearted people always find a way to join forces. We believe that the better we know you, the better our ecosystem and all the people in it can be there for you. Connect with us if you want to join!
My best childhood memory was outside. My grandfather used to have a farm which the family could use for holidays. It was old but beautiful-surrounded by trees, grasslands, and a few barns. I was always imagining the greatest adventures when I was out there. Just by myself. The place had a magical effect on me, and I could always be myself there without any boundaries.
Sometimes you climb the wrong mountain in life. You become good at the wrong thing. It happened to me as well. But looking back I now understand that this mistake was my teacher. I faced it and used it to become stronger. It helped me to get where I am today. Climbing the right mountain.
This is a difficult one. But I would go for Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia. I love how his company is on a mission to save the world. But he also opened up one of the first on-site child-care programs for Patagonia employees. He understands why a business should care about families. I would love to go inside his mind and use his influence to convince other companies to do a much better job in looking after ‘their’ children as well. I recently read an interview in which he said something about their child-care program that really struck me and I quote, “I think that the kids who come out of here are Patagonia’s best products.” I rest my case.
I remember switching schools when I was in 6th grade. On my first day, my new teacher came up to me. Because it was a bit noisy in the classroom, she came quite close and asked me a question. For some reason I instantly kissed her on the cheek. In front of the entire class!! It turned out that she was only asking for my name... I’m ok now ;)
Listen to your own voice. It’s who you are and what sets you apart. Your voice is your most powerful tool. The young me would be very excited with what I’m doing today, but would definitely not have been ok with some of the work I’ve done in the past.
I would invest all the money in children. We are all born wildly creative, and children are still free. But as we get older most of us fall into the ‘adult' route trap. I believe children can invent a great future for humankind in balance with the natural world around us. At the same time, it will help them to figure out who they are and become the next generation of guardians of the planet we all live on.
As a child, my parents once had to force me to buy something for myself from my pocket money. I bought a Barbie Boutique, which currently spends it second life in the attic of our house where my daughters enjoy it very much. As an adult, I buy Lego Kits for myself every now and then, but I still find it much easier to buy gifts for other people than to splurge on myself.
The first half of my life, I lived in the same house. The second half of my life, I moved seven times, including once to a different continent. When living in China I realized that “the Netherlands” didn’t necessarily feel home to me, as I felt very much at ease in an international community. We made a conscious decision to move home when I was pregnant with Lize, our youngest, as we felt it was important for our girls to have a home country. We moved twice since, and now live in a house that is said to resemble Villa Villekulla (Pippi Longstocking’s house). This house has been around for almost a century, and very much feels like home. It’s character simply demands creativity and fun: we spent most of Christmas playing hide-and-seek with our children.
I was a bossy kid, with a strong opinion. Looking back, I’ve spent quite a bit of my childhood and adolescence trying to “fit in,” not wanting to step on other’s toes. While I still feel terrible about the idea of hurting another person, I realize having a strong opinion and following the beat of my own drum brings me to places where I really thrive.
Ever since having children messed up my hormones, I can’t hold back my tears when reading stories or watching videos of people acting genuinely selflessly. It’s something that touches me to my core and gives me goosebumps. I tend to find my moments privately when needing a fix to remind me of all the good in the world, but when something happens right in front of me my family will double-check to see if I’m alright.
Haha, when we moved to this wonderful house we had to haul an extra truck load to move all my books. I love reading fiction, but lately it’s been loads of non-fiction. Reading Rutger Bregman’s “Human kind” really hit home for me: explaining that the perspective you take on things heavily influences your conclusions. If you want to see the good in people, there’s loads of evidence to back you up. Another book I love is “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, for me it was the first time I felt wholeheartedly connected to the movement towards sustainable living on our planet.
We still have the original blueprints of our house, which was completed in 1939. A few months after moving we found out that a little annex to one of the rooms was originally designed as a bunker. I’ve had a rough time explaining the “logic” to war to a seven-year old. While I believe in the butterfly-effect, I don’t think it’s as easy as changing one thing to stop a chain-reaction of events. Instead, I’d want for society and its keepers to truly learn from mistakes that happened in the past, from the terrible things done by people who were led to believe they were on the “good” side. Most of the times “being right” is completely besides the point, and we should be focusing on getting everybody to their happy place.
At the moment, Expat Valley does not have vacancies in the traditional sense (as in: we don’t have money to pay someone to work with us a fixed number of hours per week). We do however welcome like-hearted people to join our ecosystem at any time. People who share hopes and dreams always find a way to join their forces. Connect with us if you want to meet!