Log in

  American Club Brussels
An International club with an American heart

ACB News Archive

All our News & Updates in one place.

ACB NEWS Archive

  • 25 Mar 2022 2:22 PM | Contact ACB (Administrator)

    By John Metselaar, ACB Vice President Corporate Partners

    We are thrilled to announce yet another new Corporate Partner, Batmaid.  Let’s take some time here in our March Newsletter to introduce the company to you.  And you may well pay attention!   When I did my onboarding call with Ruben Scheldeman, Batmaid’s Country Launcher for Belgium, and he introduced the company to me I heard myself exclaiming “darn (or a similar word), I should have known about you 8 years ago before my two sons started to live on their own at university (and each changed rooms twice), and mom (and dad) did most of the clean up each time)! 

    Welcome to the American Club of Brussels, Ruben - pleasure to have you join us!   Who is Batmaid?  

    Batmaid is a cleaning company already active in 15 major cities all over Europe, and now also available in Brussels. We offer 5-star quality home cleaning and end-of-tenancy cleanings, easy bookable in just a few clicks via their online platform or mobile app.

    No hassle with calling, mailing or waiting, a home cleaner can be welcomed at your doorstep as soon as 48 hours after you finalized your reservation. 

    House-warming party planned? In-laws want to pay you a visit? Too busy at work? With the possibility to book just once or on a regular basis, Batmaid makes your home shine again!

    Describe Batmaid to me in three words, Ruben. 

    Ah, that’s an easy one. Three key words: 

    Flexible: The no long-term obligations and free cancellation policy, the possibility to book just once (or regularly) and the English speaking customer support makes Batmaid's value. 

    Digital: With our online platform and dedicated mobile app, Batmaid wants to get rid of the burden to get your place clean. Make your booking, change it, give instructions to your home cleaner, all within reach. You can buy anything online, so why not a cleaning?  

    Respect: For too long, home cleaners have lacked recognition for their hard work and have suffered from the precarious working conditions of undeclared workers.

    Our commitment is, therefore, an essential pillar of this industry and one we wish to highlight. At Batmaid, the cleaning agents are employed to fight against precarity and offer them safe working conditions through permanent contracts, a fair salary and the possibility to combine both work and private life. Since our inception, Batmaid have helped more than 5,500 professionals in the home cleaning sector exit the black market by offering them declared and insured job opportunities. 

    What’s in the – very nice and catchy - name, Ruben? 

    Aha, interesting story…  The word "Batmaid" is a way for us to evoke the heroes of the shadows, who do a fantastic job every day in difficult conditions and take care of our homes. Their passion for their work and commitment is something we want to highlight and celebrate!  By choosing Batmaid, you're bringing more justice to the home cleaning industry.

    Last question, Ruben.  While we’re making our way to your website to book, give us just a little piece of advice on how to handle tough cleaning challenges in the home….

    Well, alright, a small but practical one, then.  If you are a fan of ecological cleaning, you must have white vinegar in your cupboards. It is extremely effective in fighting limescale. But did you know that white vinegar is also a great stain remover? Indeed, if your carpet is dirty, white vinegar will be your ally to fight against any encrusted spots. It is equally effective in controlling ants, getting rid of bad smells in your microwave oven, to clean your silverware and for many other things! You can follow us on our social media pages for a bunch of other great cleaning tips & tricks!

    What pleasure to have you as Corporate Partner, Ruben.  And of course you have a special offer for our members as “welcome” gift.  Try out Batmaid with a 20 euro discount on your first cleaning service at – courtesy of The American Club of Brussels.  Life will never be the same again! 

  • 11 Feb 2022 2:42 PM | Contact ACB (Administrator)

    Interview American Groceries Belgium

    By Brooke Peterson, ACB Community Manager

    This February we checked back in with ACB Sponsor American Groceries Belgium to see how things have changed since their business launch in the Fall of 2020.

    I am finding it hard to concentrate right now, because I keep thinking about the Pop Tarts in my kitchen. I have just returned from my interview with ACB Partner American Groceries Belgium (AGB) owner Kristen Crosson - and have brought back some wonderful goodies. We asked Kristen for an update on how things are going for her business, and what is next.

    AGB launched its business in October 2020, and you became an ACB partner shortly after. We spoke with you in November 2020 when things were just getting started for you, so what has happened since your launch?

    The biggest change is that we have expanded in so many ways. We started out with just click and collect offering our items at different pick-up locations around Brussels. Starting in the middle of a pandemic meant that people really wanted to have everything delivered, so we quickly started delivery options in Belgium. We have now expanded our delivery to eight additional countries in Europe including France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Portugal and Spain. In addition to expanding our geographical reach, we have tripled our selection of items - which we hope offers something for everyone.

    How do you decide what items to add? How do you know what Americans are missing and craving while abroad?

    We actually decide completely through customer requests, and sometimes we are surprised by what people want . With a big network of wholesalers we are usually able to find what people are looking for, so it is really helpful that we have customers that let us know what they would like us to carry. We also can see what is popular with our customers and make sure to have plenty on hand. Items such as mac & cheese, Goldfish, peanut butter, canned pumpkin, and pickles tend to be our best sellers.

    What are the most surprising and weirdest things that customers have asked you for?

    One thing that surprised us was that originally we were geared more to children with things such as kids’ cereals, but we quickly got a lot of requests for “adult” cereals like plain Cheerios, Grape Nuts and oatmeal. We realized that it is the adults living abroad that miss their favorite things just as much as the kids, if not more.

    In terms of odd things people have requested, we were surprised by the number of people asking for spray cheese, or the fake cheese that comes in a can. In a country with arguably some of the best cheese in the world, why did people want cheese in a spray can? Even stranger is that these requests came mostly from non-Americans.

    I understand you offer in-store shopping. Looking around your store right now, it is really fun to see all of these American food favorites on the shelves. Tell us more about that. 

    Sometimes it is just more fun to shop in person, so we do offer shop by appointment on Saturdays along with our click and collect. This allows people to come into the store in a safe way, following all COVID safety guidelines. We often have people come with their children, which is really cute. I love listening to adults explaining what these American foods are to their kids and how they grew up loving these foods. It is a little trip down memory lane for them and me. We also have a lounge with sofa, TV, and vintage Fisher Price toys for the kids to entertain themselves while their parents shop.

    We have also done some great events at the Wavre location, such as a Halloween craft event this past year. The kids get to have fun making crafts while the adults get to shop in person and socialize with other parents. It was a really fun event and we are planning to do another one for Easter.

    So where to next? What are your plans moving forward? 

    We will continue to add to our selection and countries that we can deliver to. In addition, we are hoping to create more specialized packages that can be ordered as gifts, such as for holidays or birthday parties. It can be frustrating when well meaning grandparents send over treats and then you are stuck with a tax to pay in order to get the package. A great alternative is to have relatives order through AGB - and the gift pack is usually delivered the next business day in Belgium and without the surprise taxes attached.

    We would like to thank American Groceries Belgium for their ongoing support of the club, and of course for the pickles, Goldfish and Pop Tarts.

    Brooke Peterson is the ACB Community Manager

    To help you write your story, contact us at

  • 21 Jan 2022 11:07 AM | Contact ACB (Administrator)

    It’s time to think of New Year Resolutions and our list includes Saving the Planet.   Here we talk with ACB member, Daniel Monteleone, about his arrival in Brussels from the USA and how he is working on environmental matters throughout Europe. 

    Daniel with his wife Carlotta Isabella; How the ELO is Saving the Planet

    Daniel, growing up in Santa Clarita, California, just north of Los Angeles in the 1980’s, did you ever imagine that you would move to Belgium in 2018 to live and work here -and now travel throughout Europe to help Save the Planet?  How did all that come about?

    Well, it’s been more satisfying than I could ever have imagined - to now be working with the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) in Brussels these past few years, travelling throughout Europe.   I have travelled in Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland.  In each country, the ELO works with stakeholders in agriculture, the environment and rural activities to help promote and maintain a sustainable, prosperous European countryside.  My take-away from my travels is that there are good people everywhere and, for me, Google Translate helps to communicate and to really connect!

    How did you actually end up in Brussels? 

    This journey began when, as a student at California State University Northridge, I was studying the politics of Latin America, the Middle East and Public Administration, and I attended a Model United Nations conference in New York in 2006 -there I met Carlotta, who is now my wife, who works in the EU.   Before moving to Brussels full-time, I experienced her family’s warm welcome in Rome several times, and the unbelievably delicious food in Italy.

    Coincidentally, my great-grandparents left Italy before WWI to travel to the U.S. through Ellis Island.  They slowly made their way across-country to live in the San Fernando Valley, CA.  I thus have American- Italian dual citizenship, which made my integration into Europe smoother than I could have imagined.

    You had previously worked as an Agricultural Statistician at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Des Moines, Iowa   (2013-2018.) Now, here in this part of the world, how are you and the ELO helping farmers to play their part in Saving the Planet?   

    We meet face-to-face with farming communities and stakeholders in each EU country. Farming is very hi-tech now and the ELO has created eNatura2000, an online teaching-tool to connect European land owners and farmers with Land Managers to help cultivate better land management practices.  ELO’s online training modules also assist farmers with the EU Farm to Fork strategy and the European Green Deal, which aim to reduce some of the negative impacts of food production on the environment.   

    One of my favorite projects is Water2Return (W2R) which removes the unfortunate side-effects of slaughterhouse waste and turns it into clean water, clean energy and bio-fertilizer.  As long as we eat farm animals (cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, etc.) there is waste, but W2R turns negatives into positives. 

    Other ELO projects help young farmers to enter agriculture as a profession, or help to protect pollinators like bees and butterflies.

    Why did Flanders Pig Farmers drive their tractors en masse through Brussels in December to highlight their plight?  What reforms are they hoping for?

    As with many sectors, agriculture was heavily hit by COVID-19.  The farmers, to my knowledge, were seeking to bring attention to the situation they face.  They hope for not only short-term increase in funding, but a long-term solution in a restructuring of the industry. 

    As ordinary citizens, are we, in Brussels, playing our part to Save-the-Planet?

    Well, at a local level, walking, biking, using public transportation and recycling helps.  Also, advocating for greener practices like reduced plastic, energy efficient homes and workplaces – all of these are within our control and can make a big difference.  

    How are you coping with how life has changed due to the Pandemic?

    Netflix helps, and having more family time helps; I am actively involved in Democrats Abroad Brussels. 

    What are three things that you love about Brussels?

    • 1.       We love the international feeling everywhere in Brussels – but not the weather! 
    • 2.       It’s near many great cities – and close to Rome and Paris.
    • 3.       It’s a perfect location to interact with EU institutions, to impact policymakers and stakeholders.

    To help you write your story, contact us at

  • 14 Dec 2021 10:18 AM | Contact ACB (Administrator)

    This month we speak with our newest member, Cindy Lecomte, about her sparkling profession as a gemologist, and what she loves about Belgium! 

    What are things that you love most about Belgium?
    I grew up in Belgium and am very much at home here.  As the family chef, I enjoy slow-cooking and finding quality ingredients in the many food markets in Brussels. I also enjoy a holistic lifestyle, as I do a ‘one-week detox’ once a month (the Martine Fallon program) which helps to keep me feeling vibrant and happy.  I love being surrounded by beautiful Belgian architecture and such varied creative arts.    

    When did you realize that the jewelry profession would be a lifelong passion for you?
    Growing up in Belgium, my family’s interest in jewelry inspired me to study goldsmithing in Antwerp and to specialize in diamonds and gemology – so I am a Gemologist by training (IGI Antwerp).  Antwerp is still today one of the largest diamond centers in the world (about 85% of the world’s rough diamonds pass through Antwerp). The most beautiful diamonds are cut here.  After graduation, I went on to work for prestigious Belgian jewelry houses, including Wolfers Jewelry, official supplier to the Belgian court.  Less than a year ago, after two decades in the jewelry business, I was motivated to start my own service, 
    Gatsby & Me.  I love working as a private jeweler now and creating custom pieces, from the most simple to the most complex.  We have an emotional attachment to our choice of jewelry - it fills our heart!  
    Your website shows beautiful, radiant colors and designs.  
    Yes, I love radiant color such as that of sapphires, spinels or spessartite garnets.  Sapphires are among the most widely used gemstones in a range of colors, especially blue.  The most beautiful sapphires often come from Asia (Kashmir in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar…) but gemstones are also supplied from Africa and South America.  New discoveries complete the well-known selection of precious stones (rubies, diamonds, sapphires and emeralds) and all are used today by the great jewelry houses. I also create learning events for companies and organizations – which is a popular way to learn more about gemstones. 
    What are your main coping skills during these Covid times?
    Covid has changed the way people dress, as times are somewhat more casual and restricted now.  I’m looking forward to a return of the “glitter and glamour” in life.  Meanwhile, I’m very aware of the good things in my life.  I’m grateful for my home life with my husband and our 10-year old daughter. We feel blessed to have quality family time together, and we take advantage of the beautiful Belgian outdoors as much as possible.   

    We enjoyed speaking with Cindy.  Interested in having your story featured?  Contact us at

  • 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

  • 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

    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. 

  • 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

    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

© 2023 - The American Club of Brussels - All Rights Reserved

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software