Annebet van Mameren: “When internationals don’t know how long they will stay in the Netherlands, the choice of school becomes a more complex one. ”
New2nl helps families moving to the Netherlands navigate their way through the labyrinth of the education system, as they often have no idea where to start. Families first. “If your partner and children are not happy in the country you move to for work, it has a huge impact and can be the reason why families return to their country of origin.`
After completing her studies in Organisational Psychology and graduating in intercultural conflict management at the workplace, she moved to Italy where she studied Italian. “I even dreamt in Italian, but couldn’t understand my own dreams, thus I decided to learn the language.” During the course of her working life, intercultural differences have become very real to her, such as the concept of time, company hierarchy and food culture.
“As a 23-year old, I was used to expressing my own ideas and being independent, whereas many Italians my age still lived with their parents and hadn’t finished their studies yet.” Back in the Netherlands, she found work in the field of market intelligence at Canon and at an online research agency. She took a couple of Japanese language courses, and married an American expat. As the international atmosphere in the capital appealed to them, they decided to settle in Amsterdam.
In 2012, she took over the organisation of the 400-member Amsterdam Moms & Dads Meetup group “At that time I was looking for a school for my eldest son and found it quite complex, as under the old lottery system he could not get a place at the primary school of our choice. If I found this complex and had trouble with this, how would international parents who live here cope with this?” While the Meetup group was growing, she became more involved in helping Amsterdam’s international community create a home away from home, and she decided to make it official. Thus New2nl was born. “All my knowledge and experience plus what I like to do most, merge here.”
So far, New2nl has helped over 420 international families with all kinds of international backgrounds, often with more than one child in the Dutch education system, from pre-school to secondary school. Annebet starts often with Skype calls, but also helps with school visits and follows educational developments and debates. Corporate clients include Netflix, Stryker and Santa Fe Relocations and she works together with the municipalities of Amsterdam and Leiden. “Many international families don’t know how long they will stay in the Netherlands; that uncertainty makes their choice more complex. For families intending to move to another country after a few years, the choice is much easier,” she says.
Research study for Ministry
Annebet has recently collaborated in a researchproject on the accessibility of Dutch schools for international families, on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Education. “Many international parents choose a Dutch school instead of an international one”, she says: “Firstly, fewer companies pay for the education of the children of their employees. Only for the most senior management positions do they provide school allowances, and often only for a few years. Not many parents can pay the fees for private international schools themselves, as they often start at €16,000 per year per child. The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world to subsidise international education. These schools such as AICS in Amsterdam cost around € 5,000 per year. Often they have long waiting lists, which can be a dealbreaker for families who have to move at short notice.
Secondly, more and more international families moving to the Netherlands
, choose to stay here for a longer period and are keen on integrating into the local community. They deliberately choose education in Dutch, but usually prefer a school where they have more international families, and a more internationally-oriented approach.
New2nl also received international recognition, when their education consultant was nominated by Relocate Magazine in the category Excellence in Employee & Family Support. “Two years ago I was invited to the gala dinner at the Science Museum in London, alongside various global relocation agencies, big international schools, and corporate consultancies such as Deloitte and PwC. I felt very honoured. In April, I received the news that I had been nominated for the 2019 edition as well. So in mid-May I will be in London again!”
In addition to New2nl, Annebet set up the network Guide2nl. It is a partner network for international families and professionals in the Netherlands. “This network consists of small-medium businesses who all provide excellent services to internationals. I know all these business owners personally. Many of them are non-Dutch, and understand the needs and wishes of internationals very well. ” She has introduced some of them to the PCO network.
Annebet sees work and personal life as intertwined. “I have become friends with some of my clients. We celebrate Dutch traditions such as Sinterklaas with many international friends at our home. It also enriches my own life, and the lives of our children. ”