I went into the program not knowing what to expect and I came out with experiences that will shape my life forever. In this program I was pushed to view my American sexual education in a different light when comparing it to the education in the Netherlands. From an exhibit about sex in the Amsterdam Children's Museum to the sexual education that begins in kindergarten, I fell in love with the open attitudes people have about sex. We had amazing speakers in the classroom who were all so knowledgable in their field. But really the best part of the trip for me was the people I went with. The group leaders were so good about making sure we safe and having fun. And the other students were some of the most open minded and inclusive people you could ever meet. By the end of the three weeks I felt like I had created a family with them. I will never forget the late night talks with my roommates about everything from gay hookup culture to police brutality. Before lessons in the morning those early to the office would have coffee together and talk about activism and queer* culture and sexual education. That is the kind of environment that this program fosters. This program was full of learning both inside and outside of the classroom. The ability to really get close to the other participants in the hostels was probably my favorite part. Although we didn't get much sleep, I learned so much about other people's perspectives on the word. Because everyone had such diverse backgrounds, we we all able to come at topics with a different perspective. My favorite memory was the last hostel stay where we all stayed up just talking about life, death, body image, activism, queer* culture, kink, sex, private schools, institutional racism, and so much more. The people that want to be having these conversations are the ones that go on this trip. Be prepared to share your perspective and have it pushed by others.
The title of this trip was LGBTQ+ Rights & Dutch Culture, but I would say it leans much more heavily on LGBTQ+ rights and human rights. We spent very little time on Dutch culture (not including our own explorations of the city which were amazing but more of a self learning) and had only one lesson in Dutch. However, I do not think that this negatively impacted my trip an any way. We learned about the African Diaspora though music, and got to visit an interactive museum about the challenges and hardships of immigration, and have a tour of everything queer* at the zoo (fun fact pretty much every animal has gay sex). And those experiences I would not trade for a lesson in Dutch that I wouldn't be able to remember after a few weeks.