American Club Brussels
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ACB News Archive

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ACB NEWS Archive

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  • 10 Nov 2021 10:32 AM | Contact ACB (Administrator)

    Insurance can be confusing at the best of times, but when you are in a new country with a different language (or 3 languages..) getting the right insurance can feel like a daunting task. 

    This month we sat down with ACB Partner A & V Consult to learn more about how they are helping expats in Belgium navigate the complex world of insurance. 

    We asked Chief Executive Tom De Mesmaeker how they help the English speaking community here in Belgium and beyond. “The company serves as a third party between banks and individuals, offering advice on insurance from car, fire, and travel insurance”. De Mesmaeker  explained “The wrong time to discover you are not covered is after there is a problem, but insurance works differently in Belgium and it is important to understand the differences. We are able to support our clients by working with them in English and going through the fine print on translated policies.” 

    As one of the only Belgian insurance brokers authorized & recognized by Brocom to help out international, mobile expats with their medical costs & group insurances - A&V Consult is uniquely situated to help the English speaking community.

    And what did we learn from speaking with De Mesmaeker? 
    Did you know you should have insurance for your dog in case they bite someone in a park? We didn’t either. 
    Did you know all the questions you need to be able to answer for car insurance? Here is a hint, there are 20! 
    Do you know what healthcare insurance you need to be covered for when traveling to Belgium as well as visiting back in the US? That is an important one to look into before booking that flight. 

    To answer some of these questions we will hold a webinar with A & V Consult on the 18 January 2022 at 6.30pm. Make it your New Year’s resolution to check your coverage next year, and start with this informative free session offered by A&V Consult and the ACB.

    Register here: Intro Webinar on Insurance in Belgium 

  • 25 Oct 2021 2:25 PM | Contact ACB (Administrator)

    We feature and say “Au Revoir” and “Arrivederci, a Presto” to our ACB Board Member, Gordon B. “Skip” Davis, Jr., who is retiring to Vicenza, Italy, halfway between Venice and Verona, after a long career in the U.S. Military and most recently at NATO.

    June 2018 – Skip’s military retirement ceremony in Vicenza, before joining NATO.  Here with his family and with Ambassador Phil Reeker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe / Eurasia; Skip with his wife Rita in Sicily in August 2019. 

    Skip, we are speaking with you in Vicenza, Italy, halfway between Venice and Verona – because you just retired from NATO here in Belgium in September.  After a lifetime of global assignments, including a 37-year career in the U.S. Military (retired as Major General) this must seem like a re-birth - to now be living full-time in Italy?

    Yes, it does!!!  My wife, Rita, is Italian.  We built our home here in 2007 and have a home in Sicily, so it’s all very familiar.  We are now close to our daughter in Wiesbaden, Germany, where she is a Captain in the U.S. Army. Our other daughter is based in Washington DC.   She performs with a contemporary dance company and is a linguist-interpreter for the U.S. government - so we have a foot in both countries.  Growing up in Fort Meyers, Fla., near the Everglades inspired my love of water, seafood and sun.

         
    Your NATO and U.S. Military career gave you a “birds-eye view” of the world – with assignments in Europe (Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Bosnia, Africa (Mozambique, Rwanda, Zaire - before it became DROC, Liberia, Congo) the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan) – what are your thoughts as you look back at how your career evolved?

    I feel blessed to have joined a profession that develops leaders of character who serve others, that continuously challenges its members to achieve their full potential (mentally, physically, spiritually), that remains among the most respected professions in America, and that provides incredible opportunities for Soldiers and their families to travel and experience other cultures.  The Military requires an acceptance of risk and incredible sacrifice and commitment from its members and their families, and doesn’t remunerate its members significantly in monetary terms.  But it does provide education, experience, fulfillment, fellowship and satisfaction that few other careers can match.  During my 37 years in the military, I served 26 years abroad, spent 15 years away from family, was deployed five+ years in combat, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and was given the opportunity to study full-time in the pursuit of three different graduate degrees – so there is a lot to be grateful for.  


    Talking of NATO, President Biden’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Belgium is a South Florida real estate developer, Michael Adler, who praises NATO.  His nominee for U.S. Ambassador to NATO is Julie Smith, senior advisor to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.  This would seem an ideal time to introduce members to the new Ambassadors at our ACB
     100th Anniversary Gala in January 2022? 

    Yes, that is something to look forward to.  Given the history of ACB’s founding in the aftermath of World War I, and America’s role in the recovery and reconstruction of Belgium, I think both Ambassadors would present an inspiring perspective. We have a lot to celebrate and commemorate.  We hope to be there!

    What should we remember about NATO in a few words…

    •        The U.S. is NATO’s largest Ally in terms of population, defense capabilities and defense spending, and is critical for European defense and security.  
    •      For the U.S., being part of NATO ensures not only stability in Europe, which is critical for our trade and prosperity, but also links the U.S. with 29 other democracies who share common values and priorities of defense, responsiveness against common threats from state actors and terrorist groups, to challenges from cyber attacks, hybrid activities, disinformation campaigns, illicit trafficking, unanticipated strategic shocks like pandemics, and climate change.  
    •      Finally, being part of NATO provides the U.S. a great return on our investment in terms of troops and capabilities in Europe to other parts of the world where Allies support our policies, operations, and access, thus multiplying or amplifying our reach and impact.  

    You are an eternal optimist and a strategic planner.  What are your main coping skills relating to Covid? Also, Italy introduced just this week a “No Green Health Pass, No Paycheck” rule for all Public and Private Sectors?

    Vaccinations are free and easy to access here in Italy and 80% of the population over age 12 is vaccinated.  In terms of coping skills, I follow the advice and example of the stoics - focus on what one can control (attitude, actions, reactions, priorities), accept what one cannot control - and being as creative as possible to keep life as low stress and interesting for myself and my family.

    What are three things that you love and will miss about Brussels and Belgium?

    We loved and will miss the wide variety of great restaurants, the arts and cultural events, antique shops and markets.  And we loved and will miss the cosmopolitan character of Brussels. 

    We wish Skip well in his retirement and thank him for his dedication as an ACB Board Member these past 3 years. 

    To help you write your story, contact us at admin@americanclubbrussels.org

  • 12 Sep 2021 11:51 AM | Anonymous

    We welcome our new ACB members - recent arrivals from the U.S. - Chris and Natalie Loschiavo, who, with their two children, survived the unexpected flash floods that seriously damaged their home in the village of Hotton in Wallonia this past July. As new arrivals on a two-year assignment, they will forever remember the enormous kindness of strangers, when the floods took over. This is their inspiring story.


    Chris, this photo shows your family in sunnier times in Hawaii in 2019. We are now speaking on August 1, 2021. How did you get here?

    I am an American Army Engineer Officer, in the military since 2005. I arrived in Belgium on a two-year assignment in April 2021 to serve as the U.S. Army’s Exchange Officer in the Belgian Army’s Motorized Brigade at Marche-en-Famenne, in Wallonia. Natalie and the children arrived two months later in June from our previous duty station in Monterey, California.

    While settling into our new life, the last thing on our minds was the thought of a flood in July - but we count our blessings. Being part of the larger military family, we receive amazing support that meets our needs. We are still temporarily in a hotel room, waiting for the reconstruction of the house we are renting. Our landlady has been like a mother to us. She and total strangers, without hesitation, waded into 3.5 feet of water, helping with rescue work for up to ten hours a day. We are forever grateful.

    My previous overseas assignments include Afghanistan (3 tours) South Korea (1 year) and Germany (18 months.) In Afghanistan, I saw much hardship, but I was also on the receiving end of real generosity and kindness that comes naturally to the Afghan people – much like the generosity and kindness shown to us by so many Belgians.

    Both your careers certainly prepared you to deal with a crisis like this - to jump into emergency mode?

    Yes, we met in the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) seventeen years ago – and went on to marry in 2009. Our careers - mine in the military, and Natalie’s as a Registered Nurse in Neo-Natal Intensive Care – involve unexpected experiences that truly test one’s resilience. Natalie is mid-way to completing her doctorate degree in nursing, with a concentration in Psychiatric Mental Health, focusing on long-term effects of trauma.

    How have your two children risen to the occasion?

    Gehrig (9) and Giada (6, born in Germany) are very alert and wide-eyed at this new situation. We raise them to be brave, resilient and responsible. They are both handling the upheaval exceptionally well and are eager to begin school in our local area in September.

    What are some fond memories of growing up in the U.S.A.?

    Chris: I was born in Sacramento, California – but my family moved a lot. We lived in Memphis, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Chicago, and back to Memphis -all by the time I was 9. In Chicago, my father would take me to Wrigley Field to watch my beloved Chicago Cubs. Baseball and Wrigley Field are my “Field of Dreams.” But I call Memphis “home” (mom is there) and I love its heritage - the Blues, Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley, and American BBQ! In my early military career in North Carolina, we regularly jumped out of airplanes during our training for combat. That is also a time that I will never forget.

    Natalie: I grew up in Washington State – in a small town called Roy near Mount Rainier. Unlike Chris, I lived in the same house on ten acres of land from infancy until I left for college. During a very peaceful childhood, attending our local Science and Arts school, my parents included lots of sports, summer camp and church events in our free time. While Chris and I have decided we will retire in North Carolina, Washington State will always have a place in my heart.

    What big lessons did you learn from your Wallonia flood experience?

    Chris: We realized that a lot of “things” don’t matter – we got out unharmed, our children and our much-loved dog are safe. We experienced amazing kindness from new friends in Belgium. We retrieved some of what was important to us – much to the credit of our landlady, who stayed behind and led the way, carrying many of our things up to safety on the second floor.

    Natalie: One takeaway for me is that when I see people who need help in the future, rather than saying “let me know if I can help” I want to step in and just help. We had strangers walk into our home and garage and jump in to move and clean items, offer packing, cleaning supplies, bring food and water – unexpected, so meaningful and so much appreciated.

    What are three things that you like about Belgium?

    1. The beautiful blend of old-world architecture and modern design. Everywhere we turn, the view is more beautiful than the one we just saw.
    2. The kindness and accepting nature of Belgians.
    3. Of course, Belgium has the best beer and frites in the world!

    To help you write your story, contact us at admin@americanclubbrussels.org

    Photo: We spoke with Chris and Natalie Loschiavo on August 1, 2021

  • 12 Jul 2021 1:53 PM | Anonymous


    We are familiar with traditional headhunters who recruit on behalf of companies, and indeed many of us have found our perfect career match through them. But did you know that there is also a “headhunter for love” using the same headhunting techniques? This month we spoke with Berkeley International, ACB’s newest Corporate Partner, to find out more. 

    Tell us more about what your company does?

    We believe that finding true love is an essential key to a balanced and happy life. At Berkeley International, we help entrepreneurs, senior officials, artists and accomplished professionals aged between 25 and 75 in Belgium find their soulmates.

    How do you go about creating connections and potential matches?

    As the past year has shown us, now more than ever it is important to make personal connections. Berkeley International strives to make connections more authentic than ever through “Slow Dating”, or creating encounters while truly taking one’s time to discover the other person. We believe in less online time and more time in the meaningful conversations that happen offline.

    As a team of private matchmakers, we accompany our clients to their lifetime partner with professionalism, discretion, care and passion. Through our extensive international network in Belgium and around the world, Berkeley International is particularly well-placed to help our English-speaking and expat clients find their match. Whether new in Belgium or established for some time, our matchmakers assist in finding the missing love link and help you to make the most of your life in Belgium.

    “In an era where algorithms pervade all aspects of our lives, and contacts often are superficial, we are putting back a very human-centric approach to the core of dating. No computer system will ever understand these human complexities,”- Marjorie Libourel, Matchmaker and Head of the international community in the Brussels region.

    Do you have any advice for our readers?
    Although it is tempting to believe that algorithms or personality tests are the key to a perfect match, we have seen time and time again that it is through getting to know someone at a personal level that creates meaningful connections. With almost 10 years of service, we have grown to understand how to facilitate these connections in Belgium. The team takes the time to know its members personally, taking into account their life standards, level of education and commitment. Thanks to the quality of connections, around 80% of our members find their loved one within one year.

    How can people get in touch with you?
    Berkeley International is happy to get to know anyone who gets in touch, to listen, inform and discuss a collaboration.

    https://www.berkeley-international.be/en 

  • 12 Jul 2021 12:33 PM | Anonymous


    We are happy to welcome our newest member, Seung Kwon Han, who arrived with his family in Brussels as General Manager of KITA Brussels Center, the Korean International Trade Association on Avenue Louise.

    When you were assigned to arrive in Brussels in February 2020 from Seoul - just weeks before lock-down - how did you react to this new adventure?

    I welcomed the idea of being in Brussels, the administrative capital of Europe, as it is a city with much networking potential. When I previously worked in government for two years - in the Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) - I travelled frequently to Geneva to attend World Trade Organization meetings. Now, I have the opportunity to integrate KITA Global Trade initiatives more securely in Europe – which is more important now than ever, in this current COVID-era.

    My wife, Soon Ho, was a trade reporter when we first met. She is pleased that our two boys, aged 12 and 8, will be multi-lingual – they are happily settled in the International School of Brussels, where playing soccer during break-time is a favorite pastime!

    You received your MBA from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. You remember fondly the nightly display of fireflies, providing a light show in your garden. Ann Arbor seemed like paradise then - is that how you still remember it?

    Yes, I had left behind the fast-paced, competitive, densely populated, highly efficient capital city of Seoul with its 10 million inhabitants - to experience the friendly college-town atmosphere of Ann Arbor, the many gardens and walking trails. It certainly seemed like paradise, with squirrels playing in my back yard. Part of my mind and heart remained in Ann Arbor for the next few years, after my return to Seoul.

    You had previously explored the EU continent during your time in Milan as an exchange student?

    Yes, our student dormitory at Milan’s Bocconi University had a big communal kitchen. I became known as a “Master Chef” there, introducing dried seaweed, miso soup and kimchi to my colleagues. Friends opened their homes to me, as we then travelled throughout Europe. The experience greatly broadened my cultural understanding.

    Getting serious now, as part of President Biden’s infrastructure-building, South Korean companies have committed to investing nearly $40 billion in innovative technologies in the U.S. – semiconductors, Artificial Intelligence, electric-vehicle batteries, 5G and 6G – that are considered vital for building U.S. infrastructure. Is KITA playing a role in this?

    Our KITA offices in Washington DC and New York are available to facilitate connections. According to the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association, 70% of the world’s semiconductor wafer factory capacity is now located in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The U.S. currently has 12% - down from 37% in 1990. President Biden is highlighting the need to ramp up chip manufacturing in the U.S.

    This month, July, is the ten-year anniversary of the EU-Republic of Korea Trade Agreement – the first trade agreement of its kind. What is there to celebrate?

    Both sides are celebrating that bilateral trade has doubled during these past 10 years - and that there are labour conventions in place which set standards to protect workers’ rights and – with trade growth - generate new employment opportunities for workers.

    What are three things that you like about Brussels?

    1. The beautiful Bois de la Cambre – we enjoy it as a family.
    2. The Korean Church of Brussels – members provide us with invaluable integration assistance.
    3. Playing golf – it is very affordable, accessible, and welcoming here in Brussels.

    To help you write your story, contact us at admin@americanclubbrussels.org

    Photo: The Han family joining the ACB Walking Tour of Brussels on June 26

  • 13 Jun 2021 10:00 PM | Anonymous

    The British School of Brussels - BSB

    BSB Principal, Melanie Warnes


    Congratulations, and welcome. The academic success of BSB this year has been phenomenal 

    • BSB is named the #1 of 89 schools in Belgium in the International Baccalaureate (IB) for the second year in a row;

    • BSB is also ranked the #2 school overall in Europe this year; 

    • BSB is ranked #1 in the Belgian Physics Olympiad for the second year in a row;

    This must be very encouraging for your many students, teachers and families?

    Yes, we are truly delighted with these academic results, especially as we do not select our students by academic ability. Our guiding principles are to provide students with the highest quality of teaching, learning and support that is second to none - to enable a healthy, vibrant, respectful, progressive culture where children and adults learn together: “Learning together, Inspiring success.”

    We celebrated 50 years in 2020 – and we consider ourselves custodians of our past as well as of our future.  

    BSB is also ranked as one of the most diverse schools in Europe?

    Yes, currently we have 1,350 students representing 70 nationalities.  We are an inclusive, co-educational day school for students aged 1-18.  34% of our students are British; approximately 30% are American.   Our American students bring a real spirit of optimism and entrepreneurship to the school. More Belgian families are joining BSB now, as they see the advantages of a holistic, international education.

    How does BSB balance academic and enrichment activities?

    Exams may be a passport to world class universities and jobs, but our emphasis is on the development of the whole child – intellectually, linguistically, emotionally and socially - to be confident, caring, courageous, resilient people who engage ethically, purposefully and happily – and hope to make a  positive difference in this complex world.

    Our BSB campus is like a global village, located next to the tranquil woodlands of Tervuren.  We have a  state-of-the-art Design & Technology center, ten science labs, three libraries, four art studios, modern languages and humanities suites, food &nutrition kitchen classrooms, purpose-built theatre spaces, a music recording studio, a 25m swimming pool, dance studio, fitness suites, gymnasium and multi-purpose sports hall.  We include a wide range of sports, music, drama, travel and career guest speakers.   

    But, of course great facilities are only as good as the people in them and we have very dedicated teachers and Support Staff.  We recruit the best and invest in their development. 

    Most importantly, we are a family-friendly campus.  With an emphasis on community and pastoral care, we include classes for parents, who know that with our parent-run Families of BSB they are never alone.  

    It was your dream to expand your education career beyond the UK to mainland Europe.  How did you arrive in Belgium in 2016 to assume leadership as Principal of the BSB, and how was your prior experience so relevant to your current position?

    My most recent teaching position in the UK was as CEO of a group of seven schools, following my 20-year career as a school leader, and as an accredited UK National Leader of Education.  I was also a founding Trustee of an education charity called Achievement For All, which is now an acclaimed national education program for disadvantaged children.  This followed a nine-month secondment to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

    My husband and I were delighted when I applied for, and was offered, the position of Principal at the BSB.  The culture and ethos of the school truly inspires me. We have extended family in Bulgaria, Germany and in France, and three bi-lingual grandchildren, so we are happy to be now closer to family. 

    What are helpful coping skills during these Corona times?

    1. Being in nature – the Ardennes, and there is so much greenery in Brussels to uplift our spirits. 

    2.  Adolescents are social beings, getting ready to stretch their wings, seeking freedom – this has been a challenging time, but we build in significant outdoor time into their education, which helps to clear the mind.

    3. We are a humanistic community – it’s all about how we take care of each other.

    What are three things that you love about Belgium?

    1. The variety of culture, arts, music that is so accessible.  To get affordable front-row seats at the Opera - compared to London–now that’s a real treat!

    2. It is very liberating, a pleasure to live here.  There is openness to strangers, a generosity of spirit, a kindness, neighborliness, a sense of harmony even among disparate neighbors.  

    3. It is inspiring for my husband’s prolific writing.

    The ACB congratulates the BSB and welcomes The British School of Brussels as Corporate Members.

    NOTE:  To help you write your story, please email us at admin@americanclubbrussels.org
  • 13 Jun 2021 9:54 PM | Anonymous

    AMERICAN STUDENT SOCIETY IN BELGIUM - ASSB 

    The American Student Society in Belgium is dedicated to creating a network of connections for English speaking international students across Belgium, harvesting ever lasting relationships, and facilitating opportunities. The American Student Society in Belgium will look to contribute to the “student chapter” of the American Club of Brussels in that student members of The American Student Society in Belgium will be eligible to be a part of the American Club of Brussels, as ASSB will look to further develop and extend the student chapter of the American Club of Brussels via membership sharing. In addition, the American Student Society in Belgium will look to bring new initiatives, new ideas, and a student perspective to further contribute to events and the development of the American Club of Brussels. 

    Mission: Fostering Youth English Speaking Talent in Belgium, the American Student Society in Belgium is dedicated to creating a network of connections for english speaking international students across Belgium, harvesting ever lasting relationships, and facilitating opportunities. Oftentimes as English Speaking International students we find ourselves limited to opportunities and networking possibilities, thus we are here to build not only a stronger international community, but will be constructing the bridge between the english speaking student network here in Belgium and the professional community.

    ASSB and ACB will collaborate on

     - Membership sharing between ASSB and ASSB 

     - Further development of the “Student Chapter” of ACB

     - Further development of ASSB and potential extension of partnerships 

     - Contribute to a stronger international community

     - Periodic professional speakers, trainings, and webinars for ASSB held by members of the ACB community  - Internship Opportunities 

     - Networking Possibilities and Professional Development

     - Fun events and gatherings / Volunteer Work

    And More!

    https://assb.club

    To contact them - click here



  • 10 May 2021 9:43 PM | Anonymous

    CHEZWaWa’s mission is to introduce Brussels to the freshest and highest-quality California-style Mexican food (“Cali-Mex”), including burritos, tacos, salads & much more. Their flavorful menu options are all about #HealthyDecadence and they strive to maintain a farm-to-counter concept at their two fast-casual restaurants using as much local & sustainable farm-produce as possible. In normal times they do Custom Catering & Delivery for both private and professional events, and also keep a “Pequeña Tienda” at their Châtelain restaurant which stocks those hard-to-find quality Mexican ingredients for creating some of your own #CaliMexMagic at home!

    Palmer Colamarino, founder of CHEZWaWa, told us about becoming an entrepreneur for the first time, in Belgium, at the age of 50.

    Before I became an entrepreneur, I did a lot of research, and I made myself a business plan. Those things are fundamental, but I quickly came to realize that nothing was as important as choosing something which you have a true passion for, and a real interest in.

    I worked in the hotel sector before this, in many roles both in corporate and operationally, although never directly running a restaurant. And back then, I thought I worked hard. My dad, who was also an entrepreneur, used to have a saying - "When you are an entrepreneur, you work 8 days a week, 26 hours a day, and 35 days a month". I'd heard him say that many times, but I never fully understood it until I became one myself. Then I understood that you need that passion and interest, to continually find the energy for what you do... otherwise you can burn out easily.

    Another important thing is that when you are an entrepreneur, you have to learn to use the skills that you have, and surround yourself with the other resources which you don't have. You can do those by spending time with other entrepreneurs and sharing your ideas with them, or by finding and even paying the people you need who can fill your knowledge gaps. There are some great free initiatives here in Brussels, such as 1819.Brussels and hub.brussels. It's all about knowing how to ask for the help that you need, finding your network of resources to guide you in the right direction especially when starting out.

    And when running a business, it's important to be able to stop and reflect - and choose to build on what works, and to drop the things which just aren't working anymore. This is sometimes very hard to do, and as someone coming from a business background, in some ways I thought I knew everything already.

    How do I feel now, after opening CHEZWaWa 5 years ago? Well, it's possible that I transitioned to becoming an entrepreneur too late - I was turning 50 when I started the restaurant, and it definitely takes a lot of energyThat said, timing is always a trade off, isn't it? If I had started earlier I wouldn't have had all the life experience I already had - I was able to take my skill set, my previous experiences, and my nest egg... and just go for it!

    --


  • 08 May 2021 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    ACB’s first question is always “How did you get here?”

    I am Belgian - I was born in Uccle, but we soon spent time in Yorkshire (UK) to be closer to my mother’s family, before returning to Belgium in the mid 1950’s.   After some time in boarding school and at ULB Brussels, I spent two years in Canada as a landed immigrant working as a “copy boy” on the night-shift at the Ottawa Citizen.  Playing field hockey for the Outaouais Hockey Club was my recreation -- it was all very adventurous and satisfying. 

    When I returned to Belgium, I was drafted to serve as a Tank Leader in the 1st Lancers Battalion based in Duren, Germany.  I then joined my mother’s publishing company, The Bulletin in Brussels in 1975. 


    Publishing became a family tradition.  How did that come about?

    My mother, Monique Ackroyd, was a visionary trailblazer In 1962, she launched Belgium’s first English-language magazine The Bulletin from the basement of our home in Uccle.  She wanted to give a voice to the 5,000 expats and to internationally-minded Belgians. Her vision grew - and now the expat community numbers some 200,000 people, as well as migrant workers who contribute so much to Belgian society. Who could have predicted in 1962 that Brussels would become the international center of Europe that it is today? 

    The Bulletin merged with Mediahuis in 2007 – and now it is digital.  I retired from direct operations in 2015.     


    While heading a media company, you saw Brussels and the expat community grow and transform?  

    Yes, especially when NATO arrived in Belgium (1967) and when Britain joined the “Common Market” along with Denmark and Ireland (1973) - the international community and foreign investment grew significantly.  Now, some 150 nationalities live in Belgium, and it is estimated that the foreign-born population in the Brussels area spends in excess of five billion euro annually in the local economy.  I’m hoping, somehow, that the foreign-born population finds a way to have its voice heard --to more effectively impact local government policy on such matters as the environment, mobility, security, cleanliness and more. This would give the resident international community some democratic political representation, which it does not express at present.   


    Are you ready to run for local government office then?

    Certainly not. 


    ACB has partnered with you for 20 years on some exciting social initiatives? 

    Yes, among those events we organized jointly U.S. Election Nights which attracted several thousand people, including ministers, ambassadors and prominent business leaders. The ACB fosters understanding between local and international residents, and I’m glad to be a part of that.  Hopefully, we will again see such impactful get-togethers in the not too distant future. 


    You are creating our 100th Anniversary centenary video for the ACB at the end of 2021.  What will it feature and how can ACB members assist?

    It will be a short 30-minute video highlighting our Belgo-American friendship these past 100 years - the American Club Brussels was founded in 1921 in a building on the Grand Place.  We will reflect on significant historic events during those years, including highlights from various American-Belgian archives to show a shared history of goodwill, action and understanding that we can absolutely be proud of. 

    We also hope to all be together again in January 2022 in a spectacular setting, to celebrate this happy milestone.  ACB members could email admin@americanclubbrussels.org to offer suggestions. 


    Is your family currently involved in publishing?   

    I am married to Claire, and we have three boys (who like numbers so work in financial services) and we have three grand-children, who keep us happily on our toes. We enjoy sports, field hockey and running. 


    What are your main coping skills during these Corona times? 

    We are fortunate to have a house at the seaside and we try to go there as often as possible. Located in the middle of a nature-heaven, we enjoy walking, cycling and seeing the endless changes in the wind-swept skies of the North Sea.


    What are three things that you love about Brussels?

    We are big fans of the diversity of local architecture. Belgians are individualists at heart and no one will accept for his home to be similar to that of his neighbor. We enjoy the Marolles and the old market area - and of course we can’t live without the endless variety of restaurants.

     

    The ACB thanks John for joining with us in organizing memorable ACB events.

    NOTE:  To help you write your story, email us at admin@americanclubbrussels.org 

  • 13 Apr 2021 8:05 AM | Anonymous


    Terre Mieli Cieli — an Italian name pronounced TER-reh MYEL-ly, CHEL-ly— covers two business areas that are only loosely related: wine and public relations. What unifies them is storytelling.

    We asked Brandon Mitchener to tell about his #ACBPartner company.

    My wine tastings focus on grape varieties that aren’t very well known on the Belgian market and the winemakers who turn them into memorable wines. My next series of tastings will feature six excellent rosé wines from Belgium, Portugal and Greece. I also sell some wine on a small scale and plan to start a wine blog.

    My public relations activities mostly relate to helping other people better tell their stories, whether to journalists, the EU institutions or the public. I run the small Brussels office of an EU public relations and public affairs agency named Instinctif Partners. 

    My advice on wine is don’t buy labels, buy quality. Many people overpay for a good bottle of wine because it has a fancy label or a fancy name or because a wine store has put it on sale. You can find excellent and award-winning wines for 10-20 euros a bottle from Portugal, Greece and Germany, for example, while I find most French wine sold in Brussels over-rated and over-priced.

    The best way to tell what wine is worth the price is to drink it “blind”, i.e. covering the label(s) do you don’t know what you’re drinking until you’ve formed an opinion of it. In my wine tastings I often pit different wines against each other in blind competitions such as “France vs. the world”, “Battle of the Bubbles” (méthode traditionnelle wines from all over) and organic vs. non-organic (same country, same vintage, sometimes even the same producer).

    Even in the virtual tastings I’m doing now I always ask people their opinions on taste, quality, price before I tell them the details. These tastings invariably surprise people, many of whom become instant fans of wines they’d otherwise never have dared to try. 

    www.terremielicieli.com 

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