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Breathing in Amsterdam

May 10-11, 2003

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So I went with some hesitation to this mini-MBA program -- 3 weeks and who knows what's in store. Long time away, but Leah laughed at my reticence before I left: "Dude, you're going to be hanging out in Amsterdam with 27-year-olds! Go! Have a good time." So I did. And I did. And I'll risk a cliche by saying that the greatest pleasure was the quality of the people. Smart, never stuck-up, always game. Who moves gracefully anymore between telling dirty jokes and dancing salsa well? Where am I? When am I?

A colleague from Berlin claimed there's an American flag waving somewhere in the screen during the final moments of most every American film. That's not true, I said. Yes, it is, said Javiar, from Madrid! Watch and see. Days later, a large group watching True Lies on video in the early morning hours. Sasan, from Iran, notes: "Of course! The terrorists look Iranian!" I remind him: "That's how we say bad guy in America." And indeed, in the final moments we spot the flag in the background.

Where are the money-grubbers? Where are the capitalists? How am I with a group of 30 consultants who all turn out to be as liberal as a Sebastopol organic farmer? Strolling around Amsterdam one sunny afternoon, Sasan explains to me, "It's impossible! It's impossible not to be! If you have the privelege to be able to travel around the world, meeting people and working with them, then it's impossible not to be socially liberal. These people are now your friends. You want to help them. And you certainly don't want to drop bombs on them."