Monday, January 11, 2010

Holland is Calling...Literally

I was busy shaping young minds this morning (at Jadee Talbot's second grade class), when my cell phone rang. I didn't answer it, but the caller left a voicemail.

"Hello, this message is for Andre Smith. This is Mr. Steenblik at the Netherlands Consulate."

I was excited that the Netherlands Consulate was calling me, but sad that I wasn't Andre Smith. I called back to let them know that they'd left the message on the wrong phone number. A secretary answered.

"Hi, I just received a call from Somebody Steenblik, but I think he had the wrong number."

"Oh, do you know which Steenblik called you? Everyone here is named Steenblik."

Apparently, "Steenblik" (which translates to either Stone Look or Stone Can. I choose Stone Can) is the "Smith" of the Lowlands.

"Um, I'm not sure. I guess I could listen to the message again and call you back."

"That would be great."

I listened again.

"Hi, I listened to message. It was Mr. Steenblik."


And that's when I should have said, "I'm looking for a job or internship in The Netherlands where I can live there for the summer with my family but have plenty of time to do sightseeing all around Europe."

But I didn't.

"Well, tell Mr. Steenblik I said 'Hi.'"


Recess was over. Back to shaping young minds.


Ron Steenblik said...

Wasn't I who called, but I can assure you that "Steenblik" is not the "Smith" of the Lowlands. It is actually pretty rare, and all of us with this family name can trace our ancestry to one Dirk Steenblik from the late 17th or 18th century (I forget which). There was one big family who converted to Mormonism and emigrated to Utah (since which they have been fruitful and multiplied) and my grandfather, who emigrated to Boston, via Cuba.

Growing up, I was told that "Steenblik" meant "view of a stone". Then I went to the Netherlands on a Rotary Foundation Scholarship, learned Dutch, and learned that "steen" can also refer to artificial stones (like bricks and ceramic material) and that "blik" also means "tin", and by extension "can". Putting that together, I thought for awhile it might mean "crock" (can made of stone), as in a crock of ... .

But a Flemish man then suggested that it meant a "stony gaze". Given that most family names relate to something about the original name-sake, that one sounds to me the most plausible.

su-tang 3000 said...

Best. Comment. Ever. Thank you, Ron, for the etymology lesson.

Having spent a few years in Holland, I actually never encountered any Steenbliks, but I've certainly heard a lot about them in Utah. (My in-laws are from Rose Park, apparently there's quite a pocket there.)

I'm assuming you work at the Consulate. Can you offer me any help in getting a job in the Netherlands?

Ron Steenblik said...

"I assume you work in the Consulate."

Nope, far from it: in Paris, France, where I've been for more than 20 years. I'm from the "Boston" line of Steenbliks, and have only visited Utah once (30 years ago!).

Can't give you very much advice on getting a job in the Netherlands. There are U.S. companies based there, of course, and it is always possible to get a job in the 'States for one of those companies, and then get transfered. Equally, there are some big multinational Dutch companies with offices in the 'States: Philips, Royal Dutch Shell, various banks (Amro, Rabobank, ING). Same deal: get a job at the U.S. affiliate, and then ask for a temporary assignment to the Netherlands.

Or you can try landing a job with an inter-governmental organization, like UNICEF, or the International Court of Justice, or with an international NGO, like Greenpeace.

Otherwise, unless you have specialized knowledge (like in restoring Dutch Masters paintings), landing a paying job might be hard. Of course, you could also try getting a "stage" -- i.e., an unpaid internship -- and then hope they ask to take you on as a paid employee.