Monday, March 29, 2010

The Hague

Day 2 ~

Our second day in Holland began bright and early. At 9A.M. we took a tour bus into The Hague. Upon our arrival we walked over to City Hall meeting up with Martijn Kuiper. He greeted us and welcomed us into his presentation for the "Welcome to the Hague Program." After his speech and question / answer section, we viewed a movie clip and followed with a walking tour around City Hall. We were able to go on top of the roof of the City Hall taking panoramic views of the Hague. He pointed out the Department of Justice, the Peace Palace, the ministry and the official logo for the Hague.

We walked through the streets avoiding the treacherous bike paths to the Queen's Working Palace. The palace elegantly sits behind iron gates with a flag flying high. We learned that the flag symbolizes that the Queen is present at the palace. Although the Queen is technically out of politics but she still has a strong opinion regarding current matters.

We toured a very historic and wealthy section of the Hague well known during the Golden Age. There still stands a house known as Step Gables. It is 400 years old and in the original shape from the 17th century. We learned about what changed the way Dutch architecture grew. A new style based on French and Dutch influence flourished increasing this area's wealth.

Later in the afternoon we boarded the bus and traveled to the U.S. Embassy. After going through security we were greeted by Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin. We all exchanged brief introductions and we were invited to attend her meeting with Maria Andrews. Marie Andrews role is Commercial Counselor in the Ambassador's Office. Following that meeting we proceeded to the conference room for a briefing with John Kim. Originally from California, Mr Kim is the Counselor for Legal Affairs in the Hague. We learned about his role and some of the trials he has seen since he relocated to the Netherlands.

After that we enjoyed a presentation by American astronaut Steven Smith. He joined the NASA team 20 years ago working with Human Space Flight alongside the European Space Agency (ESA). Recently they have finished the International Space Station (ISS) infrastructure and explained how dangerous flying shuttles into space can be. He communicated his presentation to all audiences including the children present. He finished up repeating that NASA's main goal and purpose is the (1) take care of our 'island,' our world and (2) world peace.

We completed the day with the quick trip through The Hague and will continue into the night logging the video we shot.

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