‘Last year we rescued celebrity Lil’ Kleine from an elevator.’

Amsterdam has had a professional fire service since 1874, making it the oldest in the Netherlands. Of course, a lot has changed since then. For example, look at the Zuidas…

Amsterdam has had a professional fire service since 1874, making it the oldest in the Netherlands. Of course, a lot has changed since then. For example, look at the Zuidas area with its high rises. How can the fire service adapt to these new buildings? And what is a day like for these firefighters? We talked to 48 year old Peter Westerbeek, a supervisor at fire station Dirk.

Station Dirk is located in Amsterdam South, on the corner of Houthorststraat and Hobbemakade. It is the oldest operational fire station in Europe. Amsterdam-Amstelland’s fire service is responsible for the (fire) safety of the nearly one million people. Every day, at least 90 firefighters are on duty here, ready to serve the people of Amsterdam. In combination with the six voluntary stations, the total number of firefighters is 160.

Peter Westerbeek’s crew consists of eight people. He calls this his second family. “Together with my colleagues, we work 24-hour shifts, which means that we start at 8am and say goodbye at 8am the next day. We do this two days a week, so we have 48 hours of sleeping, eating and living together. You could say that Station Dirk is my second home.”

Productivity

You are mistaken if you think firefighters sit around and wait till they get called out. “We work around the clock. After the morning briefing, we perform vehicle and equipment checks. That’s our daily routine. Maybe the previous crew was called out, and a crowbar or something was left behind.”

“After we complete the check-ups, and the station is clean, it is time for our daily exercise. We take a run through the Vondelpark, for example. We take the truck and all our gear and go running together for at least an hour and a half. Each of us is super fit. We have to be because we are regularly submitted to the beady eyes of a strict doctor. If you fail their tests, they follow you up until you succeed and pass the tests.”

House calls and exercises

“Members of the crew take turns to cook and prepare lunches. We spend afternoons doing house calls and exercises. During these house calls, the firemen and women visit people and explain safety measures and distribute smoke detectors.

“Some people are surprised when they open their doors. Some don’t believe that we are real firefighters,” Peter says, smiling. “But we can always point out our fire engine. And if that doesn’t help, we can always identify ourselves.”

The crew visits commercial and public properties as well. In the area around Station Dirk there are several iconic buildings, such as the Rijksmuseum, the concert hall and the Van Gogh museum.

“For each of those buildings, we have a specific plan of action in case of an emergency. We need to know where the emergency exits and the fire hydrants are. We check the plans regularly, and we are shown around the sites by the in-house emergency officers. The Rijksmuseum, home to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, is, of course, a unique building. Our priority is saving humans and animals, obviously, but for a beautiful place with such precious pieces of art, we go one step further to save valuable contents. Luckily for The Night Watch, it has a special construction so that in the unfortunate case of a fire we can hopefully save it.”

EMA, Courthouse and nhow

Peter’s team recently had an orientation around Zuidas. “We paid a visit to EMA, the European Medical Agency. Now we know exactly where we can find the escape routes and how to connect to the water supply.”

“Everything worked out perfectly. During a calamity, our briefcases are ready with handsets and floor plans, so we know where to find the technical equipment. We have done the same thing at Amsterdam Rai Hotel. This building might look complicated from the outside, but the inside has one central point, so the guests know how to escape.”

Some of the buildings in the Zuidas are up to 70 metres high. No ladder reaches to the top.

“Our tallest ladder has a height of 24 metres. That is sufficient for the centre of Amsterdam but not for the Zuidas. At best it will take you to the sixth floor. It means that we would have to perform all rescues from the inside of the sixth floor. We’ve had a recent experience of this situation in the new Courthouse. An employee got trapped on the seventh floor, under a wooden construction, but our ladder only reached the third floor because of the height of the building’s levels. Orientation visits are essential to get this sort of knowledge beforehand.”

Firefighters deal with a lot more than just fires, they manage resuscitations as well. “That happens at least two or three times a week. We had one recently at ABN AMRO’s main office. Resuscitation is part of our job, but it does have an enormous impact. We have to talk to and support each other in order to carry on.”

Naturally, it is not all disasters for Station Dirk. There are also minor cases. Some can be laughed about, and there is, of course, false alarms.

“Most offices at Zuidas have their restaurants on the upper floors, the best location to have Thursday afternoon drinks. It often happens that an employee sets off the fire alarm on the fourteenth floor. The emergency room immediately gets a call, and they notify the reception in the building, and they have to go up and check. The receptionist has to climb the stairs, all fourteen flights of them, because during a fire alarm the elevators are shut down automatically. This receptionist has to report back within two minutes. If not, the nearest station is alarmed, in which case we are called out for what we presume to be a priority stage 1 alarm.”

Sometimes, Peter gets to tell exciting stories when he returns home from duty. “Last year we rescued celebrity Lil’ Kleine from an elevator at Zuidas. He was stuck inside it with his girlfriend and baby. To make matters worse, it was the hottest day of the year! But before I got back into our truck, I realized I wanted to capture the moment because my children are big fans. As I had forgotten my mobile, Lil’ Kleine took a shot with his phone of the two of us together. Imagine! My kids, 10 and 13, went crazy.”

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Compliance as a passion

Tom van de Laar was born in Noort-Brabant, studied in Maastricht and started his career at Zuidas law firm CMS. The young lawyer loved sinking his teeth into difficult cases….

Tom van de Laar was born in Noort-Brabant, studied in Maastricht and started his career at Zuidas law firm CMS. The young lawyer loved sinking his teeth into difficult cases. Still, he decided to make a radical career change; he completed a master’s degree in Compliance & Integrity Management at VU Amsterdam and discovered where his passion lies.

 

When looking at Tom van de Laar’s impressive CV, you’d be inclined to think he is a middle-aged man with many decades of work experience. On the contrary: Tom is only 38 and the proud father of a one-year old girl. He and his partner live in Amsterdam – the most beautiful city on the planet, according to Tom.

“I grew up in the southern town of Helmond and studied law in Maastricht”, he says. “After graduating, CMS Netherlands offered me a job in criminal law. At the time, their office was in a building near the Amstel River so I moved to Amsterdam and found a small apartment on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, just around the corner from Dam Square. And to be honest, from day one I took Amsterdam to my heart.”

Challenging cases

Tom stayed at CMS Netherlands for more than seven years and divided his time between their offices in Utrecht and Amsterdam. “I had a great time at CMS and loved sinking my teeth into difficult cases. Initially, in order to gain experience, I mainly worked on civil offence cases. Later on I specialized in financial and economic criminal law, focusing on occupational accidents, money laundering, investment fraud, environmental criminal law, and health & safety incidents. These were generally big, complex and challenging cases, exactly what I wanted.”

“I’ll give you an example of a case: let’s say an accident happened in a chemical plant. If it is a serious accident, it must be reported to the authorities and it will be investigated as a criminal case. You can offer the client legal advice but you could also try to convince the CEO, CFO and CRO to change the company’s policy and improve its safety standards in order to make it compliant. So compliance is all about processes and behaviour aimed at reducing risks. A kind of safety belt, as it were.”

Increasing demands

Although Tom loved working on criminal cases, he realized his heart lies with compliance. He wanted to find out how organizations could achieve their core objectives in a responsible manner. “They are facing ever-increasing demands. Moreover, organizations themselves are implementing internal integrity standards in order to minimize risks. This means there is a need for compliance officers.”

“That’s why I decided to enrol for the executive master’s programme in Compliance & Integrity Management at VU Amsterdam. To me, the VU was a logical choice: this is the only university where compliance is taught in all its broad aspects and this programme is highly regarded. For two years, I was attending lectures every other Monday from 15:00 to 21:00 hours.”

Ethics

“The programme enables you to study compliance in a broad context as it involves much more than just regulation. You also need to look at internal standards, risk management, behaviour, and how to deploy technology in order to comply with the rules and meet expectations from society. Compliance issues are not only about legal matters; ethics and risk assessment play an important role as well.”

Upon completing the two-year master’s programme Tom was granted the title of Certified Executive Compliance & Integrity Manager (ECIM). “I was the only lawyer in my class. Well, the switch I made wasn’t exactly an obvious one. Halfway through my studies I left CMS and made my professional start in the field of compliance at the Japanese Mizuho Bank. Then after another two years I moved to Deloitte, working at their Zuidas headquarters. Sometimes you just have to grab an opportunity when you see one.”

Back to the VU

The alumnus was asked to return to the VU as a lecturer. “That was a no-brainer for me. I was a student here and now I have the privilege to teach a subject I’m passionate about: compliance. Every other Monday I’m teaching and sharing my practical experience with my students. You’ll understand that this was another opportunity I simply couldn’t let go.”

Fast forward a few years and he is now working for Rabobank, where everything has come together in his current role as Global AML & Sanction Officer. “I’m responsible for the bank’s policy on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, and on avoiding sanctions violations. It’s the most interesting job of my life!”

Tom has been a Rabobank employee for two years now, commuting from Amsterdam to their headquarters in Utrecht. At the moment, next to his busy job and his position as a lecturer, Tom conducts PhD research into the integrity and leadership of organizations. He expects to obtain his doctorate, the highest possible academic degree, within four years.

Are you interested in a Compliance Management programme or another executive master’s programme offered by VU Amsterdam? Then come and visit our Open Evening on Thursday 19 November. Please register via our website: https://ee.sbe.vu.nl/nl

 

VU Amsterdam

School of Business and Economics

https://ee.sbe.vu.nl/nl

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Corum offers stable investments

Transparent, stable and no-nonsense, that is Corum in a nutshell, This French investment company, founded by Frédéric Puzin in 2011, offers various investment solutions in 16 countries. This geographical diversification…

Transparent, stable and no-nonsense, that is Corum in a nutshell, This French investment company, founded by Frédéric Puzin in 2011, offers various investment solutions in 16 countries. This geographical diversification guarantees a sound spreading of risk. “The risk spread contributes to a great extent to the stable return on investment of 6%, a target we’ve achieved during each of the past eight years,” says Edwin Lips, Head of Sales of Corum’s Dutch branch.

The Novotel at Schiphol Airport, FedEx European headquarters in Hoofddorp and two shopping malls in Zaandam and Delft – just a few examples of properties acquired by Corum in recent years. In total, Corum has invested over half a billion euros on the Dutch property market. Globally, their portfolio has a value of nearly four billion euros; currently, Corum focuses its investments mainly on the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Finland. However, there is serious interest from Canada and Australia, so Corum expects to realize further growth soon.

How would you characterize Corum?

An investment firm with experienced professionals and a large network. We are able to respond quickly to situations as we have all the necessary expertise in-house: fundraising, investment, and asset management. Due to our short lines of communication we are able to make decisions faster than our competitors. Our goal is to offer our clients the best possible return on their investment; if you look at our track record, I think it shows we have always kept our promise.

Why did Corum decide to enter the Dutch market?

There are not many property funds on the Dutch market that enable private investors to invest in various countries in such a diversified manner. There are three ways to buy real estate: directly by investing in a building or indirectly through a fund, which can be either listed or unlisted. These are usually funds that focus on one market and one type of real estate, so they do not offer much spread. Corum invests in 16 countries, in 6 different industries and in 4 different currencies, so the spreading of risk is guaranteed. And I still don’t see any other company doing this in the Netherlands. That is what makes us unique.

Could you give a few examples of Corum’s investments in the Netherlands?

Corum bought the Zuidpoort shopping mall in Delft for 40 million euros and we purchased the Hermitage shopping mall in Zaandam for 27 million euros. Both these investments build on a strong business case with a good location, stable occupiers, and the right retail mix as the main pillars. And the presence of recognized brands such as Dutch supermarket giants Albert Heijn and Jumbo means this is a nice, tangible property investment for Dutch investors. That is something we find important as well. 

What is your target audience? 

Due to our accessibility we’ve attracted new clients from a wide range of backgrounds. Everyone is welcome. We have clients who have just entered the labour market or could be labelled as young professionals, but also investors who are turning away from the stock market and owners of companies who want to retire in 15 years’ time and are trying to build up a solid pension. We regularly welcome new clients who sold part of their property portfolio in order to use the easy investment options our Corum Funds offer. This is actually happening more often. But regardless of the type of investor, more and more Dutch people see our funds as a good alternative for the traditional savings account.

What kind of investment funds does Corum offer? 

We have two different funds: Corum Origin and Corum XL. Origin is the fund it all began with eight years ago; this fund is aimed at creating a stable, long-standing return on investment within the Eurozone. Cash flow is an important factor here. In 2017, we introduced Corum XL; with this fund we focus on the increased value of property,  looking for investments worldwide (excluding France). At the moment, both these open-end funds are run by the same teams. Origin represents investments of more than 1.9 billion euros, and the investments in Corum XL are currently totalling more than 800 million euros. Investing in Origin starts at 1,090 euros and the share price for XL 189 is euros. 

What is the return on investment? 

For XL, our target is 5% and in 2019, for the third year in a row, we’ve achieved more than 6% – in fact, it was 6.26%. For Origin, we’ve realized an ROI of 6.25%. However, our goal is not to achieve the highest possible return in the shortest amount of time. We’ve agreed with our shareholders to create a stable revenue source and a solid return on investment – and that is exactly what that figure of 6% represents. And it feels excellent that for eight years in a row now we’ve been able to pay out that sum every tenth day of every month.

Open-end funds are a deliberate choice? 

Absolutely. This way Corum Origin and Corum XL will keep on growing with the investments made by private investors. With their share prices (€ 189 and € 1,090, respectively) we’ve opened a market that previously was only accessible to institutional investors.

Corum invests in offices, shops, hotels, healthcare and logistics, but not in housing. Why?

Corum has chosen to keep all the aspects of property investment in-house and our strategy is to maintain a streamlined asset management. Rental housing requires a lot of management and this simply does not fit in with our formula. We try to minimize overhead costs in order to achieve the best results for our shareholders.

In which other countries do you operate? 

We’ve invested more than 150 million euros in Poland, one of the fastest growing EU member states and a country that offers good opportunities. Apart from Western Europe we are interested in the Baltic and Nordic countries. For example, Norway – where we started investing earlier this year – is a stable, mature economy. And we’ve also got our eyes on Canada and Australia. 

Asset management company BlackRock made sustainability an integral part of its investment strategy. To what extent are sustainable investments important to Corum?

Corum’s properties in the Netherlands are at least A-label office buildings, and all our buildings have a Breeam or Leed certificate. Corum is very much committed to sustainability and we really value the use of green energy and solar panels. And sustainability is also important in our sport sponsoring: we do not sponsor Formula 1, but focus entirely on international sailing races. Since 2018, we are the sponsor of one of the best-known skippers, so his beautiful mono-hull IMOCA 60 sailing boat carries the Corum name and company colours. 

Picture: Edwin Lips, Head of Sales Corum Netherlands

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Schmidt Optiek focuses on the health of your eyes

  Schmidt Optiek, the longest-running optician’s in the country, is the crown jewel among Amsterdam’s eyewear shops. Their store on Rokin opened its doors in 1868 and they’re rightly proud…

 

Schmidt Optiek, the longest-running optician’s in the country, is the crown jewel among Amsterdam’s eyewear shops. Their store on Rokin opened its doors in 1868 and they’re rightly proud of their status of purveyor to the royal household. Their second branch, located on Gelderlandplein, is frequented by Zuidas business professionals and local residents alike. The health of your eyes is in very experienced and capable hands at Schmidt Optiek and they offer a wide range of frames, with the spectacular customized glasses by Cartier or Dita – diamonds optional– topping off their collection.

Schmidt Optiek focuses first and foremost on your vision, but their varied range of frames guarantees you’ll look the part as well. Did you know that former Dutch Queen Juliana and her husband, Prince Bernhard, had their own drawer in the mahogany-clad Rokin store? And their branch on Gelderlandplein houses an even wider range of frames.

There is a dazzling display of correction glasses, reading glasses and sunglasses by brands ranging from Lindberg to Chanel. As fashion designer Coco Chanel famously put it: “The best things in life are free. The second best things are expensive”. This fits in with Schmidt Optiek’s vision: they focus on the health of your eyes and the medical aspect of your glasses, selling high-end fashionable frames comes second.

A nostalgic wink

The sleek interior of Schmidt Optiek in the Gelderlandplein shopping mall may be in stark contrast to their Rokin store, but the compartments in dark brown are a reference – a nostalgic wink – to the hundreds of mahogany drawers in their historic shop downtown.

The Schmidt Optiek branch on A.J. Ernstraat was established in 1968 and has much more floor space than their 150-year old store on Rokin. Edwin van Dijk is the eighth generation of store owners. His son, head of management Tijmen van Dijk, and marketing manager Jim de Vos tell us more about the company.

Measuring with a ruler

Jim: “I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say we have some of the country’s finest optometrists working for us. They measure your eyes and gather all sorts of information including the position of your pupil, the moisture balance and vision correction. They even use special tiny rulers! The whole procedure takes about an hour; after all, the health and condition of your eyes are very important. And if necessary, they’ll refer you to an ophthalmologist. To be honest, other eyewear stores don’t have sufficient knowledge as the only training their employees have had is a 3-month in-house crash-course. Here at Schmidt, however, we consider optometry a serious profession.”

“It takes years of studying optometry in order to be able to assess what pair of glasses will provide the right correction for someone’s eyes. And that’s absolutely crucial! To give an example: my mother’s eyesight deteriorated significantly as she was given the wrong prescription glasses after a measurement that hardly took 15 minutes – this was long ago, but unfortunately it is still more common than you’d think. We don’t want that to happen to our customers.”

Glasses as a piece of jewellery

Tijmen, a well-dressed young man, explains why glasses are so important for Zuidas professionals. “Eyewear is like jewellery to them; glasses are obviously more conspicuous than your shoes, watch or tie. And in our Gelderlandplein store that is a very important factor: the business customer is looking for a pair of glasses with a serious look, but what they really want is something that defines their identity and will make them stand out among all the other businessmen in their grey or navy corporate uniform.”

“The right pair of glasses enables business professionals to lend a subtle twist to their look: slightly different coloured arms, a unique positioning of the actual glass… Moreover, glasses are more than a fashion item: they can accentuate or mask certain facial features, so it is important to get the right type of advice on the aesthetic part as well. The more comfortable you feel wearing your glasses, the more confident you’ll appear.”

Futuristic innovations

Schmidt Optiek is a company of extremes as the difference between their stores on Rokin and Gelderlandplein shows. On the one hand there is the traditional craft and medical knowledge of the 150-year old company, on the other hand they’re offering the latest futuristic innovations in the world of opticians such as glasses with lightweight, fully flexible arms. Hundreds of labels, influencers on social media, rappers and models are keen to promote Schmidt’s eyewear.

Jim: “It is hard to imagine that not even that long ago glasses were regarded as ‘nerdy’, whereas these days eyewear represents something very stylish. And here at Schmidt Optiek we try to connect to that. It is exciting to bring a classic brand to the fore using modern marketing tools, with all the events and promotion activities that go with it.”

 

Schmidt Optiek

Arent Janszoon Ernststraat 569

T 020 644 2108

 

Rokin 72

T 020 623 1981

 

W www.schmidtoptiek.nl

 

Schmidt Optiek recently acquired Reyer Lafeber opticians in Utrecht. In this wonderful eyewear store, Schmidt Optiek will focus on extending its range of products and services. In a pleasant and luxurious ambiance, Schmidt offers a wide range of eyecare and sells beautiful frames and sunglasses, as well as special collections. Buying a new pair of glasses will be a very nice experience in this wonderful new eyewear store. 

 

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Saints & Stars is not an ordinary gym

Within my circle of friends, many prefer a weekly night club dance to a workout at the gym. But why not combine the two, especially considering the current moment. Saints…

Within my circle of friends, many prefer a weekly night club dance to a workout at the gym. But why not combine the two, especially considering the current moment. Saints & Stars is a gym that feels like a five-star night club and promises that you’ll burn up to 1000 cal. in an hour. You’ll leave feeling in top shape.

The name and the entrance of the gym, Saints & Stars, situated in a former church at the heart of Amsterdam Zuid, reminds me of a chic night club in Barcelona. While waiting for the English-speaking receptionist, we can hear the music loud and clear. Dimmed lights, light show on the ceiling, and the music’s low bass tones make you long to step onto the dance floor.

Wearing an appropriate outfit and holding our phones, we step inside. It’s after passing the circular lounge corner and seeing the fitness equipment that I realize where I am. It’s time for an intense workout.

Deluxe and sexy

Tom Moos is the creator of this ingenious gym concept. Eric Kuster was signed up to provide a ‘luxurious and sexy’ interior. Moos, coming from a fitness-loving family, opened his first gym on the Tweede Constantijn Huygensstraat in Oud West, only to refine his original concept at the Gerrit Van Der Veenstraat in Oud Zuid. The doors opened on the first of July 2020.

Moos shows me around the impressive church transformed into a three storey gym, which has a relaxing atmosphere, and of course, with the appropriate support, is meant to make you burn 1000 calories in just one hour. “The millennials visiting us have no time to waste”, explains Moos.

Experience centre

“Saints & Stars is not an ordinary gym, it is a five-star experience centre”, says Moos. We enter the Open Gym, where we find the latest app-operated fitness equipment. There are only a few Dutch fitness centres using this advanced system. First, you set your targets with a personal trainer, and then you start working out at your own pace.

In the app, you receive your customized training instructions. Your trainer keeps an eye on the intensity of your workout and verifies how many calories you burn. There is no mercy after a lousy night’s sleep. Moos smiles: “We even send an app notification or call you if we have not seen you for a while. Not to push, but to motivate. We want you to get the most out of your training and yourself.”

Focussed on relaxation

Moos’ goal is to get the gym members more confident with their looks and in a better shape when leaving the gym. At the check-in, you receive a bottle of water and a shower towel. Your workout towel is waiting for you in the gym. The elegant dressing rooms are all fitted with lockers, and in the lounge area there is plenty of room to get yourself back together. There are bottles of shower gel, shampoo and even perfume available in the showers. Everything at Saints & Stars is meant to help you relax after a powerful training session of Holy Booty, Holy Build, Holy Shred, Open Gym, or with your Personal Trainer. These are the five concepts provided by Saints & Stars.

“We move along with the trends, which is why we launched Holy Booty in Oud Zuid. Here you mainly train your buttocks”, says Moos. “The Holy workouts are supervised by our skilled Star trainers. From the moment you walk in, release and prepare yourself for a hard workout. The trainer, the music and the lights pull you through the intense training sessions. We offer the complete experience which makes you forget about time.”

Chandelier

On the first floor of the former church, sunlight enters through the stained glass windows. An impressive, modern version of a chandelier sparkles in the centre. The original organ is still present in the spacious Open Gym, where, when I visit, a small group of men and women are doing weight training.

Moos: “Monthly, every first Friday, we have a DJ performance to simulate a club feeling. Some people do not work out because they don’t enjoy doing so. Therefore, we turn our space into a party. During weekends, the music and light shows are more intense. That is part of the whole experience.”

Moos leads me to the most popular workout programme, which is in the basement: the Holy Shred. Larz, like some other trainers at Saints & Stars, used to work for Nike, adidas and Puma. Now at Saints & Stars, he is responsible for an hour of high-intensity training, making you feel used up, but – above all – fulfilled when leaving the gym. The light show seems to come from every corner. Lights are integrated into the ceiling, walls and floor. The music is loud. “This absorbs you during your workout, provides you with tunnel vision, completely wrapped up in yourself, not caring about others. That is the way to intensify your training and get the most out of it. And while doing so, you cross that line.” 

The total workout

Shredding stands for the total workout, burning your fat and sculpting your body to perfection. This is noticeable when the heavily perspiring bodies pass us at the end of the  workout. Is this an option for plus-size bodies? Moos: “It certainly is. First of all, you define your goals with your Personal Trainer; then you get a free try-out on all concepts to get an idea. On average, our members train 2.5 times a week. We take care of the total one-hour workout. I can guarantee that in only a short time there is a visible result.” 

Saints & Stars focuses on service and results, not on selling memberships. “We are a boutique gym, comparable to a boutique hotel, designed to target a specific group, not an all-inclusive production. You exercise with like-minded people; consequently, working out gets a social aspect, you are here with friends and make new friends. Moreover, it creates a sense of community, which is great to see.”

 

Are you ready to cross that line?

Explore our Next Level Gym now and experience a free trial class in one of our Holy Workouts or the Open Gym. Sign in at www.saints-stars.com/en/activate using the code: ZUIDAS

 

Saints & Stars

Gerrit van der Veenstraat 38

AMSTERDAM

T 020 85 45 770

E info@saints-stars.com

 

Tom Moos – CEO Saints & Starts, Amsterdam

 

 

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‘Amity is the most beautiful school you can give a child’

You are a Dutch citizen. You live and work in Amsterdam, and your children go to a Dutch school in your area. Sounds logical, but there are other options –…

You are a Dutch citizen. You live and work in Amsterdam, and your children go to a Dutch school in your area. Sounds logical, but there are other options – like sending your children to an international school like Amity International School Amsterdam.

Most parents wouldn’t even think of the idea. The Dutch education system is fine, isn’t it? And international schools are meant for international children, right? Not really, as the increasing number of Dutch students attending Amity International School shows.

Elspeth French, who is British but has been living in Amsterdam for 22 years now, decided to move her 11-year old daughter from a Dutch Montessori school and enrolled her at Amity.

Switch

“I’ve been working at Amity since August 2018, initially in the classroom and then in the admissions department. My own children were already settled in local Dutch schools and were doing well at their schools and were happy. I liked that they were being immersed in the Dutch language and culture. However, I chose to move my daughter last year to Amity.” 

Her daughter was introduced to other Dutch speaking students at Amity school, given support to further develop her command of English, both helped her feel at ease and settle in quickly.

Broader world view

But mastering English was not the only reason why Elspeth moved her daughter to an international school. “It is important that my daughter meets people from different cultures and nationalities from all over the world. I think that’s the best learning experience you could wish for your child. She won’t lose her Dutch identity, though, as Amity is located in Amstelveen and the school looks to celebrate and embrace the Dutch culture. The school offers Dutch classes as a mother tongue language alongside the classes helping students to learn Dutch as an additional language. The school celebrate Saint Nicholas and King’s Day and we play shuffleboard with the children. It doesn’t get more Dutch than that!”

Moreover, Elspeth is convinced that attending an international school gives her daughter a broader view. “Not only is she exposed to a more international curriculum but she is making friends with children from around the world. As they chat and learn side by side, she is starting to understand multiple perspectives on global events. I really feel this is helping her to develop an international perspective and empathy for others.”

Private school

Since Amity is a private school, the fees are higher than in the mainstream Dutch educational system. With a yearly school fee of ranging between 15,750 and 17,350 euros, Amity is in the ‘mid-price’ range. “Our parents have made an investment and commitment to their children’s education and we look to ensure that the children receive the very best education possible. It helps that our parents are very engaged and supportive of the school and we pride ourselves on working closely together” Elspeth explains.

The school employs fifty teachers, each with his or her own specialty and there is a dedicated team of professionals to support students with special educational needs. The class sizes are small, with a maximum of 20 students for Early Years and 24 students for Primary Years and Middle Years, so personal attention is guaranteed. The children work at their own individual level but they are encouraged to bring out the best of themselves. There is a good collaboration between parent, student and teacher, and parents are regularly informed about their child’s progress.

High Academic level

That is something another parent Teresa can confirm when she reflects on the experience her two young daughters have had at the school. “If I compare their academic level to children of friends attending other schools, I am very impressed with their progress but I also want more from a school than high grades. My little girls love going to school. Every day I ask them what they liked best and what they liked least. My youngest one said the other day: ‘Having to leave school and go home.’ That sums it all up for me…”

Teresa moved from Argentinian to the Netherlands for two years and she found it difficult to choose the right school. “We moved three times in three years’ time. This was going to be the fourth school for my eldest daughter. During our search we noticed that the schools invariably focused on us, the parents, but hardly paid any attention to our children. Our first experience at Amity was totally the opposite!”

Personal attention

She continues: “To me, it was very important that my eldest daughter would feel socially and emotionally supported, that she wouldn’t feel like just another number at school. Amity gave us that very warm feeling from the very first moment. It is a fairly small school and before long every teacher and student knew my children’s names. That was such a nice feeling!”

Now that her children have been at Amity for one year, Teresa stresses how impressed she is by their academic achievements. “Sometimes when I hear them talking among themselves, I’m really impressed by how involved they are with the subjects they discuss at school. They are learning without realizing they are learning. The subjects are presented in such a way that they want to know all about it. That is something I really value and appreciate.” 

Zuidas.magazine spoke to two parents who are very enthusiastic about Amity International School. “Other private schools have long waiting lists, but Amity still has room for more students in allyear groups” says Judith Meijer, the school’s communication officer. “Parents can enrol their children anytime during the school year; our teaching system is designed for that. Our doors are open for all children – including Dutch ones…” 

 

Amity International School Amsterdam

Amsterdamseweg 204

Amstelveen

W www.amityschool.nl

 

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‘The Zuidas needs green space and a sports club’

      After almost sixty years, Amsterdamsche Football Club – better known as AFC – has left their trusted old clubhouse and moved down the road into a state-of-the-art…

 

 

 

After almost sixty years, Amsterdamsche Football Club – better known as AFC – has left their trusted old clubhouse and moved down the road into a state-of-the-art new home, fitted with all mod cons, sustainable, and offering plenty of opportunity for the club to grow.

AFC, Amsterdam’s oldest and biggest football club, boasts a rich history. They played their first match in 1895, on a pitch between the ponds in the Vondelpark. In 1906, the club moved to the Watergraafsmeer, near the farmstead Goed Genoeg (‘Good Enough’), which later gave its name to the current AFC grounds. In 1920, AFC played their matches at a complex near the Zuidelijke Wandelweg. In 1962, the club moved to the Zuidas and has stayed here ever since.

Since that final move in 1962, Ad Westerhof has been part of the AFC family. First as a player, subsequently as a board member of the club for the past 21 years – the last six of those serving as chairman. During all these years, he has seen volunteers and coaches come and go, and seen shy little players grow into confident young men.

Zuidas

“When AFC came here, this area was not yet known as Zuidas,” Ad says. “Back then, the area between the Schinkel canal and the Amstel River was the business quarter of Amsterdam Zuid. From the 90s onwards the big law firms, banks, AkzoNobel and the WTC moved here. That’s when the name Zuidas was coined.”

“That was also the moment we had to start thinking about the future of our sports complex. Fortunately, AFC will be able to continue playing here at Zuidas. The pitches and the brand-new clubhouse are located in an area a bit further north. To the south, a new construction project for 1,500 houses is taking place. This way, AFC will be able to build a future and realize its ambitions as a club.”

New meeting place

The charming old clubhouse, full of history, will be taken down, but the famous old wooden plaque, reading ‘Het sieraad van een huis zijn de vrienden die er verkeren’ – ‘The beauty of a home are the friends that visit it’ – has been given a prominent place on one of the walls of the new facility. Well, from now on those friends will be able to meet at the dazzling new clubhouse designed by architect Paul de Ruiter.

“Our new clubhouse is fitted with all mod cons: solar panels, an integrated covered grandstand and more dressing rooms than we had before, all with their own showers. Our old home was full of charm, but it needed a lot of urgent maintenance work including things like safety glass.”

Artificial grass

Not only the old clubhouse will disappear, however: AFC’s famous grass pitches, seven in all, have been replaced by five pitches with artificial grass. “We opted for artificial grass as we want to give all of our 130 teams the chance to play football. An artificial pitch simply allows many more hours of use than a regular grass pitch. We started work on the main pitch and the clubhouse, and the entire complex was ready by the end of the summer.”   

AFC is home to 130 teams and that makes them the biggest amateur football club in the Netherlands. Last season, their first team was crowned champions of the Dutch Second Division. AFC is a club with status and held in high esteem for a good reason. 

Best amateur football club

“For the 7th year running, De Voetbaltrainer magazine voted AFC the best amateur football club out of all the 3,000 football clubs in the Netherlands. That makes us immensely proud but we’re not doing this to collect awards. We simply want to run our club to the best of our abilities and develop it further. The volunteers are very committed AFC members, full of energy and driven to succeed. AFC is a well-organized football club.”

With 70 football coaches and 300 volunteers, all screened and in possession of a certificate of good conduct (VOG), AFC is a big club. “Our waiting lists are very long, especially for young players.”

Dutch celebrities

If you are coming down here to watch a game of football on a Saturday or Sunday, you’ll probably see a lot of Dutch celebrities along the touchline. “A lot of well-known Dutch people are living in this area and they come here to support their children when they’re playing a match. No, I’m not going to tell you who they are. They have a right to privacy.”

The Zuidas area is the most expensive piece of land in the country, estimated at a value of around 1.5 billion euros. “It’s absolutely marvellous that the city of Amsterdam allows AFC to stay here. On the other hand, I think they are quite happy with us. After all, the Zuidas needs green space and a sports club. By the way, during the week our pitches are used by local schools.”

“We’ve concluded a lease agreement with the city council for the next 25 years, with an option for an additional 25 years. But if the land prices keep going up at the current rate, we will have to wait and see what happens. This area is changing fast and we know AFC might not be in this carefree position forever, but at the moment we’re simply looking forward to using our new clubhouse and our brand new pitches.”

 

Picture by Katja Mali

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Irine Gaasbeek: ‘Diverse teams are more creative’

Not getting the job because you are a woman? “Totally unacceptable,” says Irine Gaasbeek, Country Managing Director for Accenture Netherlands. “That would really be an injustice.” Her employees agree with…

Not getting the job because you are a woman? “Totally unacceptable,” says Irine Gaasbeek, Country Managing Director for Accenture Netherlands. “That would really be an injustice.” Her employees agree with her and won’t set up project teams that predominantly consist of men. “They know I won’t buy it if they say they can’t find capable women to include in their team. Just look further and you’ll find them.”

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Join the discussion about new green along De Boelelaan

Have you noticed them already, the human-sized question marks along the De Boelelaan Midden? They are there for a reason of course. The Zuidas department of the City of Amsterdam…

Have you noticed them already, the human-sized question marks along the De Boelelaan Midden? They are there for a reason of course. The Zuidas department of the City of Amsterdam has started preparations for the refurbishment of De Boelelaan Midden (located between Beethovenstraat and Parnassusweg).

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STOX Energy Socks move to Zuidas

As from the first of August, STOX Energy Socks have taken up residence at Zuidas. To be more precise, the new premises of the scale-up can be found next to the…

As from the first of August, STOX Energy Socks have taken up residence at Zuidas. To be more precise, the new premises of the scale-up can be found next to the Olympic Stadion. “Our Herengracht office was not big enough. This new location suits us perfectly,” says Wouter de Keizer, CEO at STOX.

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