Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Day in the Life of an Ambassador!!!

The main purpose behind traveling to Holland was to learn how to create a documentary. Day 5 of this learning experience began bright and early like all previous days. We boarded our bus to finally gain insight into the life of an ambassador. We started with an hour and 15 minute drive to the city of Hilversum. This city is home to the American company Nike. Upon our arrival we were greeted by Paul ten Hag, the public affairs officer. He assisted us in receiving guest passes for the day and then instructed us on the morning schedule. As per the request of Ambassador Hartog- Levin, Nike executives met with her to discuss its position as one of the top 'green' companies in the world. She later expressed to us her gratefulness for Nike and their role, as well as all their hard work. As her private meeting began, we were taken on a tour of Nike. We learned from Bill Bowerman about Nike's green campus and how it achieves this initiative, along with the many benefits Nike employees receive.

Our day continued at NOS, Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. NOS is is one of the broadcasters in the Dutch public broadcasting system. They have a statutory obligation to make news and programs - ranging from current affairs programs and children programs to economic and sports programs for the three Dutch public television channels and the Dutch public radio services. We learned that they have satellite offices in Brussels, Belgium and Washington D.C. We were briefed by foreign editor Rutger Mazel and walked through a few departments, viewing many people editing their stories, preparing and researching stories, and setting up for a live broadcast.

After enjoying our tour of the studio, we grabbed a very quick lunch and headed back to our hotel in Scheveningen to change for afternoon tea at the Ambassador's residence in our honor. Professional and sophisticated looking, we exited the hotel dressed in our best and headed to Hague. Tobias Asserlaan is the name of the U.S. Ambassador's residence in the Hague. Upon our arrival we were greeted by Andrew Wright the residence manager. We all were escorted to an exquisite dining room to set up our equipment before heading through the foyer to the living room where tea and delicious treats were being served. Ambassador Hartog-Levin warmly welcomed our group and introduced us to documentary filmmaker, Renee Sanders and Professor of Oral History Selma Leydesdorff. We also enjoyed the company of our new friends we met yesterday from Leiden University. This true learning experience can be described through many adjectives. We are truly honored and appreciative for being given this once in a lifetime opportunity.

During our exclusive interview with Ambassador Hartog-Levin, she described many aspects regarding her role. She gave us insight into her life, her reaction to the phone call when she had been selected to this position and what it was like presenting her credentials to Queen Beatrix. She also pointed out the gold inscription over the fireplace in her living room. The words were that from a letter written by John Adams to his wife. It stated:

"I Pray heaven to Bestow
The Best Blessings on
and on All that shall hereafter
inhabit may none but Honest
and Wise Men ever rule under This Roof."

This text first appeared in marble over the fireplace in the State Dining Room of the White House. To honor John Adams as the first Ambassador to the Netherlands, the same text was put over the fireplace at the Ambassador's Residence by Ambassador Philip Young. He was Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1957-1960.

We interviewed Mr. Daniel Levin, Ambassador Hartog-Levin's husband, Andrew Wright, and Wouter Pors, head chef at the residence. Being able to continue our education through "real world" experience can only be described through one word: *INCREDIBLE!*
As this busy day came to its conclusion, we all learned a great deal on ways to react to spur of the moment changes, buses being canceled, changing hats on the fly, building communication skills between our team.
Needless to say, the knowledge we have gained about documentary production has been incredible.

Tomorrow our adventure will continue with the Ambassador and her staff meetings.

Our thanks for all involved in making these past few days and the others to come possible.
Words cannot describe how truly grateful we are.
Stay tuned for our last day in the Hague and our final days in Holland.

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