Don’t live in a bubble, Amsterdam mayor tells international workers
Amsterdam’s international residents should not ‘live in a bubble’ but become part of the local community by, for example, learning Dutch and volunteering, mayor Femke Halsema told local broadcaster AT5 in an interview.
Halsema was being questioned about a recent Rabobank report which suggested many of the tens of thousands of Amsterdammers who move away from the capital every year are doing so because homes are too small, they don’t like the neighbourhood they live in and are unhappy about the way people interact with each other.
The city’s international residents are often blamed for ‘putting up rents’ or buying up property, displacing locals and for the dominance of the English language on the street in certain areas.
Halsema said she did not want to imply that the city’s international residents are unwelcome. However, she said, ‘if you come and live in this city for some time, put down roots. Take care to do things for your neighbourhood. Take part in our community. Don’t sit in your bubble. Become an Amsterdammer.’
In particular, well-to-do internationals could volunteer, make donations to the food bank or other local good causes to help people who are less fortunate, she said.
Asked about the prevalence of English on the street in some areas, Halsema quoted former right-wing populist Rita Verdonk who caused a storm in 2006 for saying that people should be forced to speak Dutch in public.
While that would be going too far, Halsema said, ‘at the same time it is only right and good to speak the language of your country and your city.’
Research published by the International Community Advisory Platform last year suggested that many of Amsterdam’s expats are already trying to learn Dutch and 72% consider having nice neighbours as the best way of feeling at home.
At the same time, two thirds of respondents said they had faced discrimination on the grounds of their origins at least once.
Many respondents also reported being treated differently and charged higher prices by service providers because they were foreign. ‘The ‘only Dutch’ housing adverts are a problem and rent prices are generally higher for expats,’ one Amsterdam resident commented at the time.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation