Eelco Dykstra writes a monthly column called “A smile and a thought…” The columns put a playful spotlight on the interface between the Dutch and the International Community it hosts. Yes, his musings may appear at times to be mildly provocative at first sight but they are first and foremost playful – with a little irony thrown in here and there… You be the judge!
His columns are intended to give you ‘a smile and a thought’. A smile because perhaps you hadn’t quite looked at something that way and a thought because the column may leave you wondering…
“How ‘international’ is International Press Center Nieuwspoort in The Hague?”
This question has puzzled me for some time now and if it puzzles you as well, then we are not the only ones. Many people in fact have and still are wondering what this well-known place at Lange Poten 10 is actually doing to justify the ‘international’ in its official name.
One would expect a string of international events being organized in Nieuwspoort, if only because of the many and very diverse members within the diplomatic and international communities here in The Hague. After all, it is the city of international peace and justice, right?
Some years ago, as an active member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C., I used to stop by Nieuwspoort during my visits to the Netherlands and The Hague. Already then, I was struck by the unusual openness and friendliness of the many patrons. What I thought was also interesting was the laid-back manner in which they mingled, irrespective of whether they came from politics, government, the media or public affairs. Refreshing. I joined them as a member.
If you don’t know Nieuwspoort that well, it might be useful information that Nieuwspoort has a public component, i.e. different rooms where also outside parties can organize meetings, debates, presentations, workshops and press-conferences. Another part of Nieuwspoort is more private and consists of a restaurant and bar area where members can bring guests.
As special contributor to Diplomat Magazine, I recently kept an eye out for events that might be so international that they should be included as announcements in DM. Unfortunately, I didn’t see many until last week, when on June 19th there were two events that caught my eye. And yes, sure enough, they were running simultaneously.
The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis presented its forecast on how the Dutch would be able to handle the adverse effects of the current economic crisis. Under the title “Uncertain supply/Fragile demands p Roads to Recovery” they presented their findings in a book which was written in English. Yet the meeting itself and the discussions were conducted in Dutch.
At the same time, Edelman presented in another room their 2014 Trust Barometer which showed the largest ever gap between trust in business and government since they began this study in 2001.
Even though these are but a few examples, they show that Nieuwspoort could develop into an interesting place where national information could be given an international context (upload) and international news could be analyzed for its national impact (download).
As a member of Nieuwspoort, I’ve organized a number of International Pub (or Fun) Quizzes that were open to non-members and initiated the ‘International Coorenweyn Society/Foundation Counterpoint’ in an effort to add to the international flavor of Nieuwspoort.
And it worked. During the last few Pub Quizzes, conducted of course in English – or, to be more accurate, Irish English –, we had sellout crowds, a great time and – surprise, surprise – the winners turned out to be international teams from UNICTY, OPCW and the Poteen Stills.
So what’s next?
This summer, Nieuwspoort will be completely changed, renovated and upgraded.
Not only will I continue to keep my eye out for events at Nieuwspoort that are of interest to the international readership of Diplomat Magazine, but I propose that after the ‘new’ Nieuwspoort reopens after the summer, we will organize a major event for members of the Diplomatic Community there so you can take a look at the new-style Nieuwspoort.
In fact, why don’t we organize an international Pub Quiz with well-known quizmaster “(Question) Mark O’Loughlin” and bring teams from the different Embassies and international organizations together with the members of Nieuwspoort?
So, what’s next?
Should we organize international events at Nieuwspoort ourselves?
Should we organize a Fun/Pub Quiz solely on ‘international affairs’?
Do you have other ideas for an international event on a special topic or theme?
When we decide to organize an international quiz, should we have mixed teams of ‘internationals’ and ‘locals’?
You tell me.
It’s time we put some more ‘international’ in “International Press Centre Nieuwspoort!