Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chica-GO 'Building Bridges'

Today Belgian touroperator Connections launched the amazing Chicago Building Bridges promotion.
For just €699 per person you have your flights from and to Brussels + three nights at the Chicago Freehand Hostel + an exclusive Leentje's Chica-Go guided walking tour. You can book until September 15th, travel is from December 15th until March 31st (except during Christmas break). 

So, what exactly are you waiting for ... ? 

See you soon, in the Windy City! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

In this month's Gazette van Detroit ... Hugo Du Bois

In this month's Gazette van Detroit my interview with Mr Hugo Du Bois, the man behind the Belgians in America Facebook group, is published. Enjoy the read and if you are a Belgian living in the USA, join the group (if you aren't one of the 900 members yet that is)

Since the scan of the pdf is not entirely readable, please find the entire text below: 

Houston, we have a … Belgian!*
Hugo Du Bois about his American Life

If you are an active Facebook user, you probably know Hugo, since he started the Belgians in America group. We had the opportunity to steal half an hour of this busy man’s time to chat about his Texan life.

Leentje De Leeuw
Photos: courtesy of Hugo Du Bois

Hugo Du Bois (47) from Strombeek-Bever in Flemish Brabant, is married to Houston native Cami. They are the proud parents of two children:  daughter Trinity (9) and son Anderson (7). The family also houses five rescue pets.  Hugo: “Our dog Bella was shot in the shoulder and we nursed her back to health but unfortunately even the vet couldn’t save one of her front legs. Despite only having three legs, she is the fastest dog we have. Even though our other dog’s name is ‘Bolt’, he cant keep up with Bella. We also have three cats: Pasmans (named after the character in Flikken), Kitty (named by my daughter since this is her cat) and Lilly (names by my son since this is his cat).

About living in the USA

“I moved to the USA on January 3rd, 1997, to be with and marry my then girlfriend Cami. We have been married for almost 19 years. What I like or dislike most about the US? Well, the best and worst things about this country are actually one and the same, and that is chauvinism. Chauvinism as a good thing is pride and preservation of things that make up the country and culture. A great example of this would be the Texas Barbecue. I had never had it so my wife's family went out of their way to cook up a smorgasbord of different meats and side dishes so I could taste it all. And man: it was good!
Chauvinism as a bad thing: If I were to complain that there is no mayonnaise with the fries and go on about how it is always part of fries in Belgium, I would get the response that if it is that much better in Belgium, I should just go back. Neither of these two examples is actually really bad, as chauvinism is generally just pride. And pride is good…”

About Belgium
“My favorite thing about Belgium is the extensive choice of several foods that are the best in Belgium. Like chocolate and beer. Belgians take pride in their meals, much more consistently than they do in the USA in my opinion. While it is impossible to drink a bad Belgian beer, you will find some beers in the USA that should be illegal - and I mean that as a joke….”
On the contrary, the thing I do not like about Belgium is the non-existence of customer service. The customer is a nuisance in Belgium, and there are almost no exceptions to this ‘rule’. And then there are the strikes. Highways are being blocked with tractors, airports are locked down, tires are burnt on public roads, etc … All these things hinder the common man and not the bosses that caused the strikes to begin with. Unions in Belgium need to grow up and quit acting like children!”

About Belgians in America – on Facebook

“The Facebook group started to give Belgians in America an avenue to voice their complaints and concerns in an uncensored way, without being afraid of being kicked by the administration. Anything can be discussed in my group. The only "rule" so to speak - and no I don't have an extensive acceptable use policy, as a matter of fact I have none - is that there has to be mutual respect. Personal attacks or insults are not tolerated. That has worked great for the past two years and only two people got kicked for violation of this rule. The group has forgiven them and we are in the progress of letting one of them back in, the other person has moved out of the USA. The requirement to join is that you have to be a Belgian native and live in the USA.”
“Also, in the Belgians in America group you don't have to stick to Belgian topics. Any topic that interests you as a member is accepted, although advertising is limited to Tuesdays, a day that is now called Advertuesday. After there had been a little too much fighting, arguing and complaining, we also have tested a Friday called "no fuss Friday" which cooled the users’ jets and was quite an interesting experience.”
“After I started the group, I spent a lot of time on the group. But now the group has more than 860 members (update on Aug 19th, 2015 there are 911 members, LDL), so it's as lively as ever. I pitch in once in a while and post or comment occasionally. No need for me to be on the podium so to speak. This is the members' group more so than my group.”

Belgian get-together…?
When we exceed 1000 members, we will have a get-together in Houston, Texas. The group's choice meal was Barbecue since I believe, and so do many others, that Texas can teach this country (if not the world) about barbecue. Maybe the Gazette would like to be part of this?  That would be great!  My wife gave me a drone for Fathers' Day, so expect some areal footage of the TX BBQ 1000 member celebration!”

Would you ever consider moving back to Belgium/Europe?
“No. I made the conscious decision to move here and get married. We now have two kids and my life is pretty much rooted in the USA now. Kids need consistence and normalcy and that's what they will get. No country hopping. We visit every so many years and plan to show the kids a little more of Europe the next time we go over there …”

*There are actually about 200-300 Belgians living in the greater Houston area.