Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 3 - Peace, Students, and Leiden

Today was an awesome day!!! We started nice and early with a brief meeting with Ambassador Hartog- Levin at City Hall. She met with Williem Post and Astrid Bronswijk to discuss relationships between the U.S. and the Netherlands. Once their meeting finished we were able to sit with Williem Post and get his take on recent events. He was very insightful and knowledgeable about current and past relations and very open to discussing recent events.

After we finished speaking with Williem Post, we headed by bus to Leiden University. This is the oldest university in the Netherlands, as well as one of the oldest universities in Europe. Upon our arrival we were welcomed by Bas Broekhuizen and 14 Communication Masters students from Leiden who showed us around their university and city. (visit their Student Blog) We were taken to see the "Sweating Room." This famous room is where students wait to hear if they have passed their finals exams and are entitled to signing their autographs on the wall before graduating. Some famous signatures on the wall are that of Queen Beatrix, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill. After a quick lunch and walking tour we continued our day with an afternoon at the Peace Palace.

Welcome to the Peace Palace.

The Peace Palace in the Hague is home of international judicial institutions including the International Court of Justice or World Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the renowned Peace Palace Library, as well as Hague Academy of International Law.

This icon is one of the most photographed landmarks in the Hague and is the property of the Carnegie Foundation. The building's foundation marked a pivotal point at the end of the 19th Century. Andrew Carnegie donated $1.5 million of his own wealth to the construction and establishment of this palace. It opened in 1913 after six years of construction.

When you walk inside the high arched ceilings, magnificent stained glass windows and surrounding gardens giving off a classical manner. Due to its size and architectural quality, the Peace Palace is by Dutch standards a building of uncommon grandeur and that was precisely the intention. Its purpose was not just about housing a judicial organization; it was the embodiment of an idea. It fits perfectly with the dream of World Peace as cherished by the First Hague Conference and thoroughly explained in detail by Steven van Hoogstraten, general director of the Carnegie Foundation.

We received an exclusive invitation to sit inside one of the international court rooms where Mr. van Hoogstraten himself spoke to us about the history, the buildings significance, as well as current events. He even informed us that the United States is no longer an active member of the International Court of Justice. It was an awesome learning experience and an extreme honor to speak with him.

We topped off our afternoon with an arranged guided tour of the Peace Palace. During our tour we viewed numerous gifts donated by countries from around the world. There were marble floors, cast iron gates, statues, paintings and even a tiled floor consisting of 12 million pieces. We finished our tour in the lobby with the motto of the Peace Palace, "Sol Jvstitiae Illvstra Nos," Sun of Justice Enlightens Us.

As we experience history in the making, we can only say "What an honor!"
Our day was amazing - it was educational, fun and yes - even enlightening. Many of us have already grown to love this beautiful country. We can't wait to continue our journey creating this documentary, experiencing a day in the life of an American Ambassador.

No comments:

Post a Comment