Ancestors in The Netherlands

Did you know that Ancestors unKnown is an international program? It’s true! We’ve branched out to The Netherlands, where we’ve been providing schools with curriculum and giving guest lectures about family history research and other untold histories.

And one school is incorporating the complete Ancestors program into coursework for students in a gifted bilingual program. Rijswijks Lyceum introduced students to the Ancestors curriculum earlier this school year. Since then, they’ve been studying untold histories related to Indonesia, Suriname, South Africa, the U.S., and beyond. According to their teacher, Mr. Ruben Vlek, students are quite interested in learning about the histories of other parts of the world, especially as they relate to The Netherlands and Dutch colonialism. And they wouldn’t have access to these types of lessons in their traditional history books.

Image courtesy of Rijswijks Lyceum
Image courtesy of Rijswijks Lyceum

Going beyond the history lessons, Rijswijks Lyceum students have responded most enthusiastically to their own family history research projects. Beginning with questions about identity and definitions of family, and having recently conducted oral history interviews with family elders, they’ve been taking this opportunity to uncover some incredible stories about their families, their ancestors, and how they got to where they are today. The students’ histories are incredibly diverse, with ancestors coming from Turkey, Morocco, Suriname, India, and even one or two with roots in The Netherlands.

Could there be a better way to bring world history into a classroom?!

The next step for students at Rijswijks Lyceum will be digesting their oral history interviews, translating them into their family trees, and making a visit to the Dutch National Archives in The Netherlands. Stay tuned for updates.

Check out a sample of the curriculum that students in The Netherlands and the U.S. are using. And if you’re interested in bringing Ancestors unKnown to your school (no matter where you are), become a partner!

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