July 12, 2024

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135,000 Belgian immigrants moved to the United States.  They say ‘pearls of opportunity’ in a hopeless political party

135,000 Belgian immigrants moved to the United States. They say ‘pearls of opportunity’ in a hopeless political party

Mark van Ranst is a virologist at KU Leuven. His columns appear twice a week, alternating with Else van Doesburg.

Mark Van Ranst

At the end of 1988 I opened the long-awaited letter. Good news: I received a grant from the Belgian American Education Foundation to study in the US. I vividly remember holding that letter in my hand and putting on a picture of Frank Sinatra and singing out loud ‘New York, New York’. “I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps”, the next four years I woke up and went to sleep in New York. I worked at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and had an apartment on the twenty-fourth floor. If the weather is fair, you can see the skyscrapers the middle See Manhattan. New York leaves no one indifferent. Either you hate the Big Apple with a passion, or you become Foot over head Love this city. I lost my heart to New York in record time.

In the laboratory I often worked late into the night. The Burns security night guards who patrolled the college campus soon became my friends. The same people also worked security at Yankee Stadium. After a while I settled on a cheaper one Bleacher seat $10 a ticket to the temple of baseball, and the security guards let me sit in the empty (and unaffordable) seats in the front row behind the New York Yankees dugout.

In the afternoon you can eat healthy, kosher and cheap food in the student cafeteria: matzo ball soup, cabbage rolls in tomato sauce, gefilte fish and my favorite: chicken nuggets in pineapple sauce. At a table outside the dining room sat another favorite: a lady with stacks of tickets. For just a few dollars, a student ticket can get you into Luciano Pavarotti at Carnegie Hall. The Nutcracker New York City Ballet Company, and the Martha Graham Dance Company or the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater for modern dance performances.

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And there were cheap tickets to Broadway shows. My first musical Anything goes With wonderful lyrics and infectious music by Cole Porter. I was instantly hooked and every week I went to a different concert. Or to the same tune: Frank Losers Guys and Dolls I have seen it five times. When I returned to Belgium four years later, I was so homesick that I secretly went to London on weekends to fix musical instruments in West End theatres. It all wears off after a while, and thirty years later, I’m already pretty successful at staying home on the weekends.

Except this weekend: I’m going Red star lineCatch a concert at the Studio 100 pop-up theater in Burse. I saw a strong cast including Jelle Cleymans, Femke Verschueren, Charlotte Verduyn, a very solid Peter Van den Begin, Peter Thyssen and Zwarte Piet Frans van der Aa. The story is about people searching for happiness in their roaring twenties and finding love across the ocean. More than 135,000 Belgian, mostly Flemish immigrants went to the United States and Canada. They were economic migrants who wanted to escape the hopeless situation in their home country. ‘Pearls of opportunity’ are called ‘pearls of opportunity’ in a hopeless political party today. Few words I hate are ‘chance’.

in the scene Red star line Almost 100 people are going around. There are over 40 employees behind the scenes. The biggest stars of the show in Bursa are the eight moving stands with 200 spectators each and the 38 meter long and 7 meter high Red Star Line ferry. Interesting is an understatement. The whole thing is tech tourism on an international scale. If this gigantic pop-up theater were built in London’s Docklands or Brooklyn’s Skyline Drive in New York, it would draw packed houses for decades and win an Olivier or Tony Award for Best Musical. On top of that.

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You’ve got to hand it to Studio 100: they’ll do it anyway. For the best music ever 40-45 750,000 people came to watch. to Red star line With more than 250,000 tickets already sold, the show will run until at least January 7, 2024. Everyone go and check it out, you definitely won’t regret it!

Then visit the Red Star Line Museum in Montevideostraat on the Ilandje in Antwerp. The museum is housed in the building where people began their life’s transatlantic journey a hundred years ago. The museum celebrates its tenth anniversary next week. Celebrate with us!