When I mention the color orange, most readers will think Tennessee football. But, for a small but ever growing, group of Blount and Knox residents, the color orange is the color of home. It is the color of the banner that is flown alongside the flag on a royal holiday, the name of our Royal family -- Van Oranje Nassau. And it was the color of my house, inside and out, during the final match of the World Cup soccer.
Not long ago I thought I was one of the few Dutch nationals living here in East Tennessee. I met one or two individuals before, but other than that those, there were none here, or so I thought.
Then the “name dropping” began. A trip to our local veterinarian brought me the name and phone number of a lady who, according to the vet, was from the Netherlands and missed home very much. A friend from church stated her Dutch in-laws were moving from Philadelphia to Maryville. A lady at a local deli talked with such an accent that I had to ask her if she was Dutch.
And so a ring of friendship began and has grown. We each met others and now meet with each other on a regular base. Even with some of our original group moving back to the Netherlands or other places in this world, our group keeps growing.
We have friends of all different ages. Not that I ask how old they are, but with Annelies having just had her first child, a beautiful baby girl and her first American in the family, she has to be one of the youngest. Some have followed a spouse here, some have married an U.S. citizen and some have immigrated here at sometime during their life. We have some who are older and are now retired and enjoying grandchildren, some who have survived World War II, and one who is a Holocaust survivor. Some speak Dutch fluently and some are re-learning. Our conversations go from all Dutch to a mix to all English. I am sure that any non-Dutch would have a difficult time keeping up, but we seem to manage.
On that faithful day in July, however, we all had one thing in common. We were all Dutch. Add in a World Cup final, and there was only one thing to do: Party with lots of orange, lots of food, fun and, of course, friends.
And even though we did not win (Note: We did end with a higher rank then rival Germany), we will fly our orange again.
In the meantime, we still gather as friends and are hopeful that our number will grow. If you or someone you know is Dutch and is interested in more information or coming to our “koffie uurtjes,” please pass along my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave information for me at Blount Today.
Publisher’s note: Jolanda Jansma is a freelance photographer for Blount Today, so many of you have seen her covering events around town. But on July 11, we dared not even mention any assignment possibilities to her, as her home country competed in their national sport when The Netherlands took on Spain for the World Cup. This is a column from Jolanda about her experiences connecting with other Dutch people in East Tennessee.