American Club Brussels
An International club with an American heart


ACB News Archive

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ACB NEWS Archive

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  • 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!



  • 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 

  • 11 Apr 2021 11:41 AM | Anonymous


    How did you get here? 

    I am Belgian, born in Antwerp.  I joined the American Club Brussels (ACB) to speak English fluently, and I’m so glad I did!  The ACB welcomes all nationalities and we enjoy great get-togethers (when it is possible!)  

    My family moved to Brussels when I was 14 to open the renowned Brasserie Anspach, which seated 300 people right in the center of town.  It was a very dynamic time.  As the song says “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end.” 

    As a long-time ACB member, your “trip down memory lane” is likely to be one of the most creative we will hear.  What are the highlights that you remember? 

    When I first joined, I served on the Board for 4 years. In those days, without internet use, all member communication was by land mail.  I recently handed over to the Board 25 years of ACB Newsletters – an amazing repository of our ACB history and highlights. 

    I particularly remember one of our Fourth of July celebrations in the 1990’s in Bois de la Cambre.  It received so much advance publicity that more than 4,000 people attended over two days – all accompanied by an orchestra and square dancers!   Another great memory is of our ACB Ommegang dinner at the Grand Place each year.  Hopefully, we will look forward to it later this year, depending on how conditions are in the month of June.

    You were named Brussels Ambassador by Visit.Brussels in 2002.  What are some of the themed events that you then went on to organize and became known for?

    I organized Soirees Bruegel which showcased Belgian folklore, dance, gourmet foods and beers, and took us back to yesteryear.  Music evenings included classical, jazz or orchestral music.   Mediaeval weddings were arranged in castles and farmhouses. 

    One memorable event was the official opening of the new Rue de la Loi with Princess Astrid - I provided the folklore music, Jacques Brel repertoire and some young rap dancers.  

    The Caves de Cureghem in Anderlecht has been a spectacular setting for theme dinners. I often included a surprise - for one brewery celebration, I put a live bear at the entrance, which attendees really liked!  We had a special Falcon Bird demonstration for guests from the UAE.  Chinese and Japanese tourists were especially amazed at everything they saw.   Flemish is my mother-tongue - but I also speak French German, and Spanish, which is especially useful when foreign TV crews arrive to comment on tourist events in Brussels.

    Have your adult children inherited your creative talents?

    My son is professor of Dramatic Arts at the Royal Conservatoire in Brussels.  He is a well-known actor and Metteur-en-Scene (Mozart Assassine, Les Miserables de Victor Hugo etc.)  My daughter works in the law department at Cargill, the global American food company in Mechelen. They and my four grandchildren always inspire me. 

    What lessons have you learned from Covid?

    I now have time to organize my 30 years of business papers!  I had to cancel four events this past year, due to Covid.  I especially miss theatre performances in Brussels - but “hope springs eternal.” 

    What are three things that you love about Brussels?  

    1.    The Grand Place at Christmas - the big tree and the one million begonia flower carpet

    2.    Haute Couture on Avenue de la Toisson d’Or and the Boulevard de Waterloo area

    3.    Museum visits – more than 100 Museums in Brussels!  www.brussels.be/agenda

     

    The ACB thanks Sonia for joining with us in organizing so many memorable events! 

     

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


  • 16 Mar 2021 11:46 AM | Anonymous


    This month we caught up with Rosalie Zobel

    How did you come to live and work in Brussels?

    Well, it was 1988, and I was working in Tokyo for AT&T, when the phone rang in the middle of the night! It was a job offer to come and work in Brussels - in the Telecommunications and Technology Directorate General of the European Commission. When I retired 20 years later, I had climbed the ladder there to be the first female director responsible for breakthrough Research and Development in Information Technology components and systems. I now like to encourage young women to believe that they can enjoy a career in science, technology and engineering. There is nothing more exciting than creating the future.

    Your life began in the English countryside of Norfolk, but you then lived and worked in six countries, including the USA. How did all that travel evolve?

    My nomadic life began in Norfolk U.K. during WW2, where my father was a weather forecaster for the RAF raids on Germany. We moved often. I was excited when we were posted to the British colony of Aden, now Yemen, in 1957. I resisted returning to boarding school, so my father taught me what he knew. This led to my obtaining a degree in Physics at Nottingham University, where I was one of three girls in a class of one hundred - and then a PhD in Radiation Physics at London University. I always enjoyed being a trailblazer.

    You then combined family life with a career in software development?

    I discovered more opportunities in software system engineering than in physics, and soon itchy feet took me to the European Centre for Nuclear Research CERN in Geneva, where several Nobel Prize winners worked. We watched Moon Landings together in the cafeteria. My husband’s job also involved moving, so we moved to Munich, where I managed the main computer center of the Max Planck Institutes. Returning to Munich to meet friends and enjoy the wonderful beer gardens is something I will always look forward to.

    How did you then end up in America?

    My husband’s work took us (now with two children) to the USA. I worked at the AT&T headquarters in New Jersey in their nascent computer business for most of the 1980’s. The confidence and can-do entrepreneurial spirit in America inspired me. This led to my being transferred to AT&T Japan with the children – quite an adventure! We loved the food and the culture in Japan in particular.

    You are now a Belgian citizen, firmly planted in Brussels?

    Yes, I choose to live in Brussels and am grateful to Belgium for accepting me as a citizen. I love the multicultural environment - people are kind, accepting, and non-judgmental. When travel is allowed (now on hold!), I spend time in London with my daughter and grandchildren. I also visit New York, where my son is a breast cancer surgeon in Elmhurst Hospital. Elmhurst is the hospital where news media described the “perpetual wail of ambulance sirens, and the many freezer trucks in the hospital car park holding an overflow of bodies.” My son did his turn in the ICU, when requested.

    You feel strongly about Brexit?

    After twenty years in the EC, I became a strong supporter of the European ideal. I was sad and speechless at the Brexit referendum result. Let’s hope the many trade and other Brexit issues get ironed out soon.

    What are three things that you love about Brussels?

    1. Art Nouveau, Art Deco art and architecture. I volunteer at the Horta Museum shop.
    2. My typical town house and garden, which I could not afford in London or New York.
    3. The high quality of Belgian cuisine. I can’t wait for restaurants to re-open.

    _______________________________________________________________

    NOTE: If you would like us to assist YOU in writing YOUR story - the process is easy and confidential. Please email us at admin@amiercanclubbrussels.org 


  • 16 Mar 2021 10:10 AM | Anonymous


    Mir Taxes states their mission is to ensure that all clients accomplish their financial goals of taxation while living abroad and remaining compliant to the United States. The objectives are to provide the professional services in completing tax preparation reporting requirements and ensuring compliance and, especially, peace of mind. We also strive to ensure our clients are aware of financial tools that will lead them to meeting their other future economic goals. Whether looking for answers or simply want more information, we believe that good communication is vital to provide excellent customer service. We publish a monthly newsletter highlighting popular tax issues or changes in the U.S. tax laws.

    During this busy tax season of 2021, be sure to reconcile your first two stimulus payments so that you can also receive the third payments being issued by the I.R.S. Contact us at info@mirtaxes.com to determine your eligibility. Find out how to receive your stimulus checks directly into a bank account to avoid depositing into a Belgian bank account and watch the check get eaten up by fees.

    Check out the website for current tax headlines, links to the newsletters and various other tax articles - and be sure to sign up for the newsletter.

    DID YOU KNOW?
    ACB members are eligible for a free initial consultation by contacting us 

  • 16 Feb 2021 10:25 AM | Anonymous

    Curious who helped us design the new ACB Brand? Look no further and learn about our ACB Partner, IDO Design & Animation by Dave Low, a Brussels enthusiast, who shares some sage advice you might need when starting up your brand design.


    When ACB was ready to give a fresh new look to our image, we went to Dave Low from IDO Design & Animation. It was a bit complicated too – how do you combine US & Belgium & Europe, along with community, warmth and a dynamic spirit? Well, we thought it was complicated – but when presented to Dave, he immediately had that glint in his eye, and LOW-and-behold, our creative, colorful, dynamic new brand of ACB was born.

    We asked Dave, how did you become a designer?

    After graduating in 1992, I have always worked in a creative environment - graphics studios, a company that designed toys and games for special needs kids, a technician and lecturer at an art college, designing front-end interfaces for a tech/media company.

    I started IDO Design & Animation following redundancy in 2007. At the time I was living in Ruislip on the outskirts of London and spent a lot of time commuting into the city to do agency design work. As time progressed I started to build a roster of my own clients, including the International School of Brussels about ten years ago. Since then, my work has included a lot of educational organisations as well as SMEs in Brussels and other parts of the world.

    I have developed a deep fondness for Brussels after countless visits, vacations and four brilliant months living in the city over the summer of 2017. COVID has made a lot of things impossible, but being able to hop on a train in St. Pancras and be at Gare du Midi in a coupe of hours to see friends and do work is one of the things I have missed most.


    And now, any advice that you wouldn’t mind sharing for those about to create or re-freshen their brand?

    A brand is more than just a logo. It’s all about the messages that your organisation sends out to your customers - be it expressly written or subliminal - and their response to them. There’s emotion involved - you want to come across in a particular way. Your company will have its own values - trustworthy, fun, dependable, disruptive, edgy, caring etc. There’s almost infinite combinations, and each organisation’s will be unique.

    A good designer will want to work with you to understand the message you want to send out and ensure that it is relevant, up-to-date and consistent across all mediums. Whether it is branded uniforms, a social media campaign, explainer video, a skilled designer will have the experience and knowledge of how to create collateral for you but also implement it.

    I would advise to steer clear of the likes of Wix logo maker and Fiverr. There are great designers out there who will work passionately to help you promote your organisation with a wealth of knowledge to be able to bring to bear on your brand aspirations.

    Working with a designer is like any other relationship. It has to be given time to flourish. Each party has to listen and learn to gain knowledge of the needs, expectations, skills and experience of the other. This in my experience is when the magic happens and you can have the “I’ve just had this crazy idea but…” conversations - which can lead to truly great work!

    In a crowded market it is extremely important to have a roster of happy and engaged clients who not only come back for repeat work but also would recommend you to a colleague or friend. And as with any business, the power of 'word of mouth' - as intangible as it is - should never be underestimated.

    _____

    Reach out. Have a chat on the phone or zoom - we don’t bite and we’d be delighted to see if there’s something we could do to help. Contact Dave Low here: www.davelow.co.uk, davelow@me.com.


  • 28 Jan 2021 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    Join us from 15:30 – 16:30 CET on Wednesday 17th February for an hour with the team at Dunhill Financial.


    They will introduce the American Club of Brussels and take you into all the tax matters surrounding American expats in Belgium.

    This free event is one not to be missed!

    Agenda will be announced closer towards the date.

    Register in advance for this meeting, and after registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

    REGISTER NOW 

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