You’re Welcome Mr. President

25 March 2014

Koning_en_Koningin_met_NSS_delegatiesPhoto credit: Wikipedia Commons

Being an American in the Netherlands leading up to and during the Nuclear Security Summit  (March 24-25) has filled me up with lots of irrational pride. For the past two days, the Hague has been the center of the universe as world leaders from 53 countries and 5 international organizations negotiate on reducing and securing nuclear supplies and keeping them out of terrorists’ hands. Who wouldn’t be proud that we’re one step closer for not blowing up our beautiful, irreplaceable planet earth?

Inspired by Buzzfeed’s article Welcome to the Netherlands Mr. President,  I’d also like to share some interesting tidbits of Dutch-American influences. We all know about the soft power America has on the rest of the world. Little does everyone else know about how influential the seemingly obscure tiny Northern European country of only 16,839,840 has on American culture (past, present and future).


The Dutch were the original New Yorkers

Image of Native Americans watching the arrival of the first Dutch colonists at the Hudson river.
Photo credit: Flickr Commons

Actually, the Native Americans should be the undisputed first inhabitants of New York state and the rest of the United States. But it was the Dutch who founded New Netherlands (now New York) in 1614, being among the first to steal barter the land from the Native Americans and create a flourishing, world city of New Amsterdam (New York City). Knowing their time was up in 1667, the Dutch exchanged Manhattan for Suriname. What the Dutch left behind is a city of love for liberty, entrepreneurial spirit, tolerance, an established banking system and a future concrete jungle where dreams are made of.



18793rPhoto credit: Flickr Commons

 The Dutch names Jan (“John”, pronounced as Yan) and Kees (“Cornelius”) were and continue to be common names for boys in the Netherlands.  Urban legend has it that the word “Yankee” is a combination of the two names originally referred to Dutch-Americans but is now the beloved baseball team of New York.


Many famous and influential people in America were Dutch or had Dutch ancestry.

theodore-rooseveltPresident Theodore Roosevelt Photo credit: Flickr Commons

Thomas Edison, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie van Halen, the Roosevelts (Theodore, Franklin and Eleanore), Walt Whitman all had Dutch ancestry. And let’s not forget that Carice van Houten who plays Melisandre on Games of Thrones is a beloved Dutch actress.

Many all-American nostalgic food is actually Dutch in Origin

the-pancake-bakery_pieter-aertsen                      The Pancake Bakery by Pieter Aertsen (1508-1575) Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Many of the current mainstays of the American diet were introduced to the New World by the Dutch such as pancakes (pannenkoeken), waffles (wafles), doughnuts (oliebollen), coleslaw (koolsla), pretzels and cookies (koekjes). While over time these Dutch treats became Americanized (bigger, sweeter, and fluffier), the culinary contributions of early Dutch settlers should not be forgotten.


The closest foreign analogue to Obamacare (Affordable Health Care Act) is the Dutch Health System
When the United States of America, thanks to the leadership of President Obama, decided to join the rest of the world and try to provide health insurance for all of its citizens, they looked towards the Netherlands as their example. The Dutch Health system and the Affordable Health Care act were both inspired by Stanford Health Economist Alain Enthoven’s theory of managed competition.


Wishful Thinking: That American Kids can be just as happy as Dutch Kids

dutchchildrenPhoto credit: Flickr Commons

I’m also hoping that Americans can also be influenced by the Dutch on how to raise the happiest kids in the world. Perhaps your (brief) time here Mr. President Obama may have inspired you to help pave the way for American kids. The future generations will thank-you.