Catching the World Cup

The "orange street" phenomenon.

I was born in England, but lived in Germany until I was almost two years old. Then, after six years in the Netherlands and a stint in the Czech Republic, my family moved to the United Arab Emirates. Despite the many countries I’ve called home, my World Cup allegiance lies with the Dutch.

This summer, I was lucky to catch part of the World Cup in Tanzania, Zanzibar, during my internship with the Centre for International Heritage Activities. While I don't feel patriotic toward my Dutch heritage most of the time, that all changes when it comes to the World Cup. The sons from my host family had proclaimed their support for Spain during the Netherlands vs. Spain match. Naturally, I mentioned my disappointment that they were not supporting my homeland and, to my surprise, midway through the match when things were looking grim for the Spanish team, six-year-old Luqman changed his mind. "Knee-zer-lands!" he started cheering. He had made the right decision — by the fourth Dutch goal, the others had gone to bed.

As an outsider, the World Cup was helpful in that it provided many opportunities for me to converse with the Zanzibaris. I would often ask who people were supporting — and when the response was "the Netherlands," an instant friendship was made.

Now I'm in the Netherlands, experiencing the World Cup here for the first time. And I have never seen so much orange! Orange hats, orange t-shirts, orange boas, orange sunglasses, orange ponchos, orange flags, orange wigs, orange everything! There is even an "orange street" phenomenon taking place with residents stringing rows upon rows of orange flags across their houses and placing fake lions in their gardens.

Besides the excitement of being able to watch the final few matches with my family, I am curious to experience the Dutch spirit and compare it to the enthusiasm of the Dutch supporters who gathered together in unity in Zanzibar. My grandfather has assured me that the passion of the Dutch certainly outweighs that of the Zanzibaris, adding, "This is nothing. This is just the start." I cannot wait to see how it all unfolds.