Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dr. Nichols Blogs about Denmark and the Netherlands

Vol State President Dr. Nichols has been traveling in Europe to build partnerships for the International Education program. He has visited Ireland and Denmark and in this latest blog entry talks about his trip to Denmark and the Netherlands:


Began Thursday with an early morning meeting with Toger Kyvsgaard, International coordinator and staff manager for KTC, Kopenhagen Technical College. We visited two campuses, meeting faculty, staff, and students from programs which included web design, sign making, printing, media production, photography, film, theater, animation, graphic design, and TV production.

They are very interested in forming partnerships, beginning with faculty visits. We also had positive discussions regarding how our faculty could work together on shared student projects by way of Skype and other devices.

Later that evening, six members of the two campuses took us to dinner at Tivoli Gardens, the first amusement park in the world. This park was created in 1843 and is beautiful. We met at 6 p.m., walked around the gardens, and began our three course dinner around 7. Three hours later we finished dinner and walked around again to see the gardens at night. Since it was only around 10 p.m., it was still more daylight than night.

Since we had an early flight out the next morning, we called it an early night and finally got to bed around midnight. Up at 5:15 a.m., then off to the airport for our flight to Amsterdam.

Have the weekend off to look at the city, with all day and evening meetings beginning Monday.


Arrived in Amsterdam from Copenhagen on Friday. Took a taxi to the hotel, NH Amsterdam Central, and then explored the city. Since we have many hours of daylight in Amsterdam, it was no trouble to learn the rail and bus system. By purchasing a "city card" good for 48 hours, we could take any tram or bus for free. This city card also allowed us free entry into most of the museums in the city.

Chris and I also took a tour of the city by way of the canals. This canal tour was also included in the purchase of the city card. The canal tour lasted for 75 minutes and pointed out interesting parts of the city.

Later that evening, we just walked and walked trying to take in the sites. I was amazed at the number of people in the city, even past midnight. Thousands of people walking, riding bicycles, and taking the buses from one tourist part of the town to the next.

Saturday morning we went to a local eatery for pancakes. You could tell they were pancakes, because they were flat and round. After that, no resemblance in texture, ingredients, or taste.

After breakfast, we toured the Van Gogh museum. The museum also had a special showing of the work of Picasso. I kept wishing our art faculty and art students could have been with us on this tour.

We then walked to the house of Anne Frank which is now on the museum tour circuit. Two hours later, we left with a better understanding of the plight of the Jews in the Netherlands during the German occupation during World War II.

Later that afternoon we visited the house of Rembrandt. It is truly amazing to realize that you are in the house where great art was created.

After much more walking and sightseeing, we found a supermarket, purchased sandwiches, chips, and more Dr. Pepper and went back to the hotel and had our dinner.

I don't know how it happens, but as hard as I tried to go to bed early, it was after 1 a.m. before we finally went to bed.

Up early Sunday morning to check out of the hotel and meet Anita and Nicco Haaijer. Anita was one of the faculty who came to our college two years ago on an exchange visit. She and her husband invited us to spend Sunday and Monday night at their home so we could experience true Dutch cooking and see how they live.

Before we left for their house, they gave us a walking tour of sites in Amsterdam that most tourists never see. Interesting homes directly on the canal have been turned into museums, reflecting history from the 1600's.

On the way to their home, approximately 90 miles away, they took the scenic route which led us to the beach where we stopped and had hot chocolate and Dutch treats. Then off to see the famous windmills before finally reaching their home around 9 p.m. A very good vegetable soup, potatoes, and ice cream were served around 10. We then visited until turning in around 1:30 a.m.

Monday morning, up early to begin my visits with several colleges. Anita took me to the train station where I began a quick 35 minute ride to ROC Nijegen. Johan Neijenhuis, International Coordinator for Health Care, picked me up at the train station and gave me a tour of their campus. After this tour, back on the train to Hertogenbosh where I was picked up by Anita and Chris. Short drive to ROC Nijegen for another tour and discussion concerning faculty and student exchanges.

I should not fail to mention the success of the college brochures we created in both Danish and Dutch. While all educators in both countries told us it was not necessary, since most faculty and students read and speak English, they did remark on how impressed they were that we made the effort. They would then take the brochures and show them to others, commenting on how it was in their respective language. On numerous occasions, they commented that no other college had ever gone to this trouble before. I promise you it makes a very favorable impression.

A short drive later found us at a German concentration camp where they housed Jews, homosexuals, criminals and dissidents. The tour was deeply troubling considering how many people were executed. The tour included seeing a dissection table and gas ovens used for cremations.

We are now back at Anita and Nicco's home and preparing dinner. Tomorrow I am off by train to visit a college in Utrecht and then on to Zwolle.

Obviously they don't celebrate Memorial Day in Holland, but my heart and thoughts are still with our veterans and their families on this sacred day.

-Warren Nichols

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