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Reader Story: A Visitor from the Netherlands

Written by The Reader, 19th May 2017

Last month we had the pleasure of welcoming a young visitor from the Netherlands to our Liverpool HQ for a stint of work experience. This is Annika's story:

My name is Annika van Duijvenboden. I am seventeen years old and I come from Katwijk, a village in the Midwest of the Netherlands. I am writing this while waiting at Manchester Airport for the plane which is going to fly me back to Amsterdam. You might be wondering why a seventeen year old girl traveled all the way to the United Kingdom all on her own. I can tell you I have got good reasons for that - I was doing a work experience at The Reader in Liverpool for a week.

When I was asked to write something for the website I first thought of writing about everything I did this week and what I thought of it. However, I changed my mind about that because as I am a reader myself I know that readers want to see is real emotions. So I am going to tell you about something that really touched me this week.

During the week I joined a Shared Reading group. Everyone in the group was very involved and had a lot to say and had many experiences and memories to share except for an old lady. She sat there, listened, closed her eyes sometimes. At the end she told us that she had lost her sight. She lost the visual part of her world. Now the only thing that is left is her sense of hearing. Every week she could go to a Shared Reading group and listen to the stories and poems and hear what everyone had to say about it. Her words were so beautiful. She really showed me the effect The Reader has on people. It is not very big. It does not cost a lot of money. Still it is very effective in many ways.

When the lady told me this I had to think of my own grandfather. He used to visit my grandmother every day when she could not live at home anymore. After she passed away last year she left a big gap in his life. Suddenly he had nobody he could visit and talk to anymore. His children and grandchildren are busy and many of his own siblings very old or dead. We, as a family, want to help him. However, it is difficult to help someone who does not want and is not able to do a lot of things anymore. So when I saw what the Shared Reading groups did to people I wish we would have something like it in the Netherlands.

Fortunately there are people working on it in the Netherlands. I think it might be too late for my grandfather. Nevertheless, hopefully I will be able to enjoy a Shared Reading group once again and with me many others all around the world. I can tell you now, it works!

Once again I want to thank The Reader for everything you have done for me. I really enjoyed my time at here. I noticed I really learned from it and changed a bit.

Best wishes, Annika

It was a pleasure having Annika visit us for the week and wonderful to hear her experiences of Shared Reading. It was lovely having Annika around HQ here in Calderstones and her kindness will be warmly remembered by all of us here - not least for the delicious coffee sweets she treated us all to! We hope Annika will be able to join a Shared Reading group in the Netherlands very soon!


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