Categorie: Lifestyle

‘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.

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“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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‘Aesthetics and sustainability can go hand in hand’

Visitors entering Circl are likely to come across Marijn Muller or a piece of sustainable furniture from his company, Cartoni Design. Circular is keyword to what Marijn does and stands…

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Marijn grew up in The Hague and was soon known cross Marijn Muller or a piece of sustainable furniture from his company, Cartoni Design. Circular is keyword to what Marijn does and stands for.as ‘that boy with the dog and the colourful clothes’. And that hasn’t changed in all these years. “I guess I just have my very own style: I like to wear pink shirts and pink jumpers made of lambswool. For more official occasions I always take a tweed jacket with me. It makes me feel comfortable.”

“Recently, I talked to a high-school friend and she said that I haven’t changed one bit. I’m still wearing my Ray Ban Wayfarer, the classic Blues Brothers sunglasses.”

Marijn also uses his outfit as a statement to show that he is closer to the creative industry than the other companies at Zuidas. “With Cartoni Design we show that aesthetics and sustainability can go hand in hand. Only four years ago, people were wondering if this was actually possible and now everyone is doing it. A company that is not looking at sustainability, is doomed and will soon be out of business.”

Marijn gives ABN Amro advice on interior design, that’s why he holds office in Circl – ABN Amro’s circular pavilion – and exhibits durable and innovative solutions here. “The whole world visits this place: designers, architects, large companies like DSM. I connect them, give presentations, organize exhibitions. There is a lot of knowledge sharing and that’s a good thing because no-one has yet found the perfect way to create a real circular society.”

 

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‘We lift it safely or we do not lift at all’

28 The largest Dutch courthouse, the New Amsterdam Courthouse, is undergoing a complete renovation. It is a project being headed up by Heijmans, a leader in the construction industry. Amer Mahmutovic…

28

The largest Dutch courthouse, the New Amsterdam Courthouse, is undergoing a complete renovation. It is a project being headed up by Heijmans, a leader in the construction industry. Amer Mahmutovic is a crane operator, and one of the many people working on the site.

This interview took some preparation as we needed to go high up. I met him at ground level, wearing who wears the expected combination of work shoes, hi-vis jacket and hardhat. From this staggering height. Firstly, we went up three levels on a ladder, and then a further three levels via an elevator. Once sixty five metres above ground, we were in a cabin, from where Amer is key to the realization of the renovated courthouse.

Before we set foot in the tiny space, we changed our shoes for slippers. Once inside, the hand-held vacuum cleaner, baby wipes and bottles of surface and window cleanser reveal his love of a tidy workspace.

Enormous crane

Up until last year, Amer was a driving instructor. Nowadays he is operating the enormous crane we find ourselves near the top of.

“I was fed up with giving driving lessons; youngsters have changed so much. So, I re-trained to become a crane operator,” he says. “I had to get used to life in the construction industry. And in my case, this is quite a lonely life, being up here. I was always used to always having a student sitting next to me. But, this isolation is for the best, because for this job you need to be fully concentrated at all times.” 

Amer has been working as a crane operator for eight months.  His first job was contributing to the building of the nhow Amsterdam Rai Hotel (the one with the three triangles). He is currently watching the New Amsterdam Courthouse grow beneath him at a great speed from a dizzying height.

“Whether I am lifting a beam, a wire construction, a block of concrete or braided concrete, it all adds something to the Courthouse. Sometimes it is a serious piece of craftsmanship if I might say, with real military precision. But at the end of the day, that gives me my satisfaction. On the other hand, it is a hazardous job. Everything here is about safety.

Carefull

When working with this kind of machinery, you have to be careful, we lift it safely or we do not lift at all! Do you see those other two cranes over there? My colleagues and I are in touch constantly via radio. However, on the rare occasion our booms are too close, they are brought to a halt automatically, just like the automatic distance device in the latest cars.” 

Amer’s crane weighs 32 tons. When dual wired, the boom (the long, moving arm) can hoist up to eight tons, and, when four wired, at least sixteen tons, which is comparable to the weight of ten cars.
As well as taking into account the weight, there are also weather factors to consider, like wind.

“Everything here is checked, checked again, and then triple checked. From the moment I start to lift, it is all about millimetres. With the utmost accuracy, I hand the boys down there their goods. They advise me via their radios. Another two metres, one more, fifty centimetres, thirty, ten, etc. Though I am physically secluded, we have to work together as a team in order to avoid accidents.”

 

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