Nether’ Wanna Leave

Welcome to your last edition of the Plus3 Summer 2023 Netherlands blogs. Just like that, our two weeks abroad have come and gone. Today’s adventures reflected those throughout much of our trip, consisting of a company visit, last minute shopping, and some delicious food of course. Our agenda today, however, had a 2pm start time which gave us the opportunity to fill the whole morning with any adventure of our choice. I elected to begin my day with a little extra sleep before boarding the trusty tram into the city center. Although it was a bit chilly this morning, I neglected to check the weather app prior to leaving and left jacketless. Nonetheless, the subtle, cool breeze kept me alert on my morning walk, allowing me to absorb all of the possible sights for my last day in Amsterdam. My swift, breeze-assisted walk eventually delivered me to Zero Zero, a sandwich shop Hailey recommended early on in the trip. Her suggestion certainly did not disappoint and I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwich and solitude at the restaurant’s outdoor patio table. There is just something about exploring on your own (in an informed and safe way, of course) in an unknown city. The independent adventure carries with it a feeling of freedom and excitement, like a toddler walking on their own for the first time. Post delicious sandwich, I leaned into this feeling of freedom a bit more and wandered around the city, collecting my final gifts here and there. Reluctantly, I brought my own little adventure to an end and headed back to the Generator to reconvene with the group and begin our official itinerary. 

As everyone returned from their own morning festivities, we were joined by an employee from Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch-based chocolate brand which focuses heavily on sustainable practices and ensuring equitable working conditions in the cacao industry. I have to say that the company visits ended on a high note, because this particular presentation was of great interest to me. I am not sure of the role that chemical engineers play in their company, if any, but I am certainly fond of the work they do and the emphasis they place on ensuring this work is executed ethically. Several times throughout the presentation it was asserted that, more or less, Tony’s is in the business of people first, with chocolate merely being a means to accomplish their sustainability objectives. 

Although this is undoubtedly good pathos marketing, it also seems to be reflected throughout their initiatives and actions, as opposed to solely a slogan they slap on chocolate wrappers. I can genuinely say I have never before encountered a private business built upon the foundation of prioritizing people over profits in such a substantial way. Their social work is admittedly at the sacrifice of financial gain compared to their competitors. This is a model most business people would immediately disregard, but as Frank and I discussed following the presentation, it is an environment over economic choice that is becoming increasingly necessary, and will soon not be an optional switch at all.

Following this exciting presentation, we made our way to the Tony’s Super Store to pick up some delicious chocolate to carry across the Atlantic tomorrow. Immediately after, we convened for the final supper, a delicious buffet-style Indonesian meal. We shared the usual laughs, but tonight they were felt with a little more depth at the realization that our time together is now measured in hours, rather than days. This trip was truly a life-changing experience, not in the cheesy way, but in the ‘I have gained a new perspective and am eager for all I still have to learn’ way. Having spent just two weeks in the Netherlands, I am returning with a better vision of the interconnectedness and challenges of sustainability, a broader understanding of Dutch culture, and a stronger bond with a whole new group of people, many of whom I would have never crossed paths with otherwise. 

Big shout out to the ‘rents for making this incredible trip a reality for me and for reading my silly lil blogs everyday. Love ya lots! Also, thank you to the Bursics and Sophia and Dasha for your time and all you managed to teach us along the way. I am sure I will be happy to be home once I finally arrive, but for now I Nether want to leave. Doei!

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