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Hollandy by Sarah Aarssen

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Hollandy

By: Sarah Aarssen

“It’s not all Holland, it’s not all Illinois, it’s just a little Holland-y”

I’ve shared with you how the Dutch language sounds (remember, the phlegmier the better), but how do you get around before you’re fluent? Well, you just speak English of course! Did you roll your eyes there? I hope so. It is true that in Amsterdam (not necessarily the entire country) you can pretty much go anywhere and not even have to ask “do you speak English” before going into your question. It’s an extremely international city and English is the common language.

Dutchies are exceedingly proud of their ability to speak many languages. I have learned not to roll my eyes when the kind Dutchman sheepishly starts the conversation with “oh my English isn’t that good” and then continues to carry on a 20 minute perfectly fluent dialogue with me. Even now, seven years into living here, when I speak Dutch in the city, they hear my accent and will automatically switch into English “for me”. I say “for me” because in reality it hasn’t helped my Dutch skills at all. Stubborn as I am (I’m an Edwards/Kelly mix, what can I say), I continue my side of the conversation in Dutch and they do likewise… in English. It ends up being a bizarre and sometimes uncomfortable mish-mash of Dunglish between the two parties.

The kids though, this is where it gets difficult and amazing. I wasn’t in the country more than half a year before I ran into my first multi-lingual child in the park. He gleefully skipped up to me and asked ______ with the innocent face of an angel. I have no idea, he could have been asking me to tie his shoe, to help him find his Mom, or to zip up my fly. Beats me. I apologetically said “I don’t speak Dutch” and without missing a beat the cherub repeated the phrase in another, this time, non-Dutch language. When I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders, face getting hot with embarrassment, he stopped for just a split-second before desperately trying “parlez-vous francais?” Alright show off, I get it, you’re five years old and speak at least three languages.. And I’m sure when his Mummy found her perfect little cupid, stuffed in the garbage can, he was fluently telling her in his 80 languages what the mean, angry, non-Dutch speaking American woman did.

Okay, so I didn’t really stuff the kid in the trash but that doesn’t mean it didn’t cross my mind. Man, did that kid ever make me feel dumb! But, here’s where it gets good. Now I have my own little multi-language-speaking show-off, ah, I mean child and it’s actually kind of cool! Yes, my just-turned-three-year-old, Sadie, has learned to easily slip from English to Dutch without batting one of her long lovely lashes.

I’ve always been consistent in speaking English with her. For one, I need her to be able to communicate with my family back home, but most importantly, if she learned to speak Dutch from me, she’s be teased out of school on her first day! I will have to admit though, the three weeks we recently spent in the US is what really made the biggest difference in her language skills. Before we boarded the plane, she would speak a mix of the languages to me. When she did choose Dutch to ask me a question, I would answer her by repeating what she wanted in English, and then answering it in English. So “mag ik een ijsje” from her was met with “you want some ice cream?”, head nod, “sure, we’ll have some”. It was the only way I could make sure she really knew what I was saying.

I was nervous for her when we landed in Illinois. How would she cope? Would she be able to communicate? Would she get frustrated? Would Marco and I be able to leave her with my non-Dutch speaking family in order to have some time alone together? What is alone time? Oh wait, that’s a whole other topic.

The answers to all of my fears became apparent within the first two days in corn country. She blew me away with the ease of her English. It only took a couple “you have to ask him like you ask Mommy” reminders before she was able to communicate with absolutely everybody. It was a super proud moment for me. She could ask for a drink of milk. She could question Uncle Jimmy as to the whereabouts of the cat. She could do it! I beamed as she told her cousin Olivia “no Olivia, that’s Sadie’s Elmo” while ripping Elmo from Olivia’s grips.

Hey, she may be multi-lingual, but she’s still a kid!

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Now that we’re back in Holland, she doesn’t ask me things in Dutch anymore. There is no more Pete and Repeatin at our house. It’s Dutch, English, Dutch, English, Dutch, English, just like a little light switch and best of all, I have no desire to stuff her in any garbage can!

 

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Domestic violence is prevalent in Macoupin County

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Dear Editor,

Domestic Violence within Macoupin County is prevalent. It is destructive and can be both physical and psychological. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. It may include behaviors meant to scare, physically harm, or control a partner. While every relationship is different – domestic violence generally involves an unequal power dynamic in which one partner tries to assert control over the other in a variety of ways. The following statistics are all according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

We can see domestic violence inside the home: through the use and control of household pets. In one study, 85% of survivors who experienced co-occurring animal abuse reported that the behavior of their pets had changed. An even higher percentage of survivors who reported partners had harmed or killed their pet, have also reported their partner for domestic violence. We can also see an increase usage of firearms within the intimate partner violence home. A survey of contacts by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found (of those with access to firearms):  

  • 10% said their abusers had fired a gun during an argument.  
  • 67% believed their abusers were capable of killing them. 

We can see domestic violence inside our schools: as partner violence is not exclusive to the home. There are many instances of violence between dating partners that begin in high school. Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year. Within those relationships, 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.  

We can see domestic violence inside our community: Macoupin County provides a specific set of needs for those victims and survivors of domestic violence. There are several complex concerns within a violent relationship that come to light once action has been taken. Safe Families sees a few main re-occurring concerns within the county:  

  • Survivors have fewer financial resources, making them more financially dependent on an abusive partner.  
  • The lack of rental units or other affordable housing options makes it more difficult for survivors to leave spouses or co-habiting abusers.  

The Macoupin County Safe Families program provides support for residents as they journey the emotional endeavors to leave behind domestic violence. As a contributor to that experience, we will be hosting a Domestic Violence Awareness Walk on October 7th on the Carlinville Square. An event shirt will be included with a ticket sale. The online tickets will close 09/29 at 5pm. Tickets will be sold at 9am day-of event at the Safe Families booth. More information about the Awareness Walk can be found on our website at mcphd@mcphd.net. We urge Macoupin County residents to join us and rally against domestic violence together.  

Juliet Wooldridge and Lilly Booth

Domestic Violence Advocate Coordinators
Community Health Worker
Macoupin County Safe Families

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: National Health Center Week is week of August 6

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Dear Editor,

Community Health Centers are the backbone of our nation’s primary health care system. We design innovative, integrated primary care based on what services communities need most — ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for over 30 million people. In addition to creating jobs and saving lives, collectively we save American taxpayers $24 billion a year in health care costs by preventing and managing chronic diseases.

Community Health Centers are not ordinary medical clinics; we are also problem-solvers who reach beyond the exam room to care for the whole person by providing access to necessities like food, transportation, and housing. Community Health Centers care for everyone, regardless of insurance status. Nationwide during hurricanes, floods, and fires, and locally during the pandemic, Community Health Centers are first on the scene and are vital to keeping America healthy.

The 2023 theme of National Health Center Week is ‘The Roadmap to a Stronger America.’ Community Health Centers serve as the beacon of strength, service, and care in their communities. In moments of pain and loss, we offer support and love. In moments of triumph, we offer hope and a vision for the future. This year’s National Health Center Week theme takes us on a virtual road trip across America, highlighting the achievements and amazing work being done at Community Health Centers in every state and territory. Celebrate the uniqueness of our community and get to know others as we journey across the U.S. together!

Each day of National Health Center Week is dedicated to a particular focus area. We will be working with community partners to recognize and celebrate each of the following focus groups in our community.

As part of National Health Center Week 2023, we invite you to support Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc. to celebrate our mission and accomplishments.

Christy Blank
CEO/Public Health Administrator
Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc.
Macoupin County Public Health Department

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Drobney family thanks the community

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To the great people of Macoupin County.

Although several months have past, the family of Bridget Drobney would like to extend their deepest gratitude for the overwhelming love and support that we received during the recent attempt to secure the release of one of Bridget’s rapist/murderers. We are truly grateful for the numerous letters that were written and sent to the Governor of our state, the Illinois Prison Review Board, and the personal outreach to our family; all of which demonstrated your unwavering love and support. Your efforts were instrumental in persuading the Governor and members of the Prison Review Board to deny clemency for Bridget’s murderer.

While it remains a possibility for the individuals involved in Bridget’s kidnapping, rape and murder to annually petition for clemency, The Drobney family takes solace in knowing that the exceptional people of Macoupin County will steadfastly oppose any such requests and stand ready to fight should the matter of clemency arise again. We are particularly grateful to retired Macoupin County State’s Attorney, Vincent Moreth, as well as the current members of the Macoupin County State’s Attorney’s Office, under the leadership of State Attorney, Jordan Garrison. Their unwavering dedication and support was evident as they traveled to Chicago to represent Bridget and the Drobney family during the clemency hearing.

Once again, we express our sincerest appreciation for your profound support and unwavering commitment to justice. Your solidarity has been a source of strength for us during these difficult years. We will keep you in our prayers and will be forever grateful to the people of Macoupin County.

Sincerely,
The Drobney Family

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