July 16, 2007
Cokato family hosts Lions Club youth from Holland
By Roz Kohls
Debbie and Dennis Hendrickson of Cokato are hosting Vivian DeKoning, 17, of Dordrecht, Holland as part of the Kingston Lions Youth Exchange Program.
Both of the Hendricksons are Lions members, as is DeKoning’s grandfather in Holland.
DeKoning arrived June 29, and will be in Cokato for five weeks. She already has visited the Little Falls area, and is enjoying the typical American family life in Cokato with the Hendricksons and their two children, Matthew, 11, and Lori, 14.
DeKoning graduated from high school June 14. In fall, she will attend college and major in economics. She hopes to someday get a job in marketing that will involve a lot of travel, she said.
DeKoning’s first impression of the United States was how big everything is, she said. Potato chips, for example, often come in super-sized bags, she pointed out.
Homes in Cokato are large and separate, on spacious yards. In Dordrecht, the homes are small and attached to each other, similar to townhouses in the US, DeKoning said.
Large farms also surround the Dassel Cokato area, she said.
DeKoning has noticed many Americans think the Dutch still wear wooden shoes and folk costumes, and live among tulips and windmills, she said.
Dordrecht, which is in western Holland, is a large, modern city. DeKoning’s father, Hans, works at an energy company. Her mother, Margreet, works part-time in an Ob-Gyn hospital.
DeKoning has two sisters, Melissa and Babette, and a pet rabbit, Pluk. Melissa also will soon be in a Lions youth exchange in Australia, she said.
School is different in Holland, she said. Foreign language study is required. In addition to English, DeKoning also speaks German and French.
After eight years of basic school, students enter a program that is similar to high school in the US. It is divided into three levels, four-year, five-year, and six-year. The level the student chooses determines what level of college they will attend. The more years of high school the students puts in, the more they will qualify for advanced college courses, DeKoning said.
During the summer, DeKoning worked in administration in a bank. Her free time, she said, is filled with shopping, going to movies, and being with her boyfriend, Piero, much the same activities as youths enjoy in the US.
There aren’t as many fast food restaurants in Holland, though, DeKoning said. Her favorite meal is white fish smothered in onions and bell peppers, and a serving of baked, sliced potatoes.
The Dutch eat seafood at least once a week. Stores that sell only fish are common in Dordrecht, DeKoning said.
Dennis Hendrickson, who works at Dura Supreme in Howard Lake, and his wife, Debbie, who works at the Veterans Administration medical center in Minneapolis, took DeKoning to the Pizza Factory in Cokato. She had dessert pizza for the first time, and it is now her favorite American food, she said.