Why Tulsa

“Why Tulsa?” The gym teacher at our daughter’s new school gives us a strange look and questions our sanity for exchanging the beautiful Netherlands for Tulsa, Oklahoma. The look of astonishment seems to question our decision, but for us, the reason is clear. A few days ago, we said goodbye to classmates, colleagues, friends, and family and closed the door of our house in Lelystad behind us.

For the next few years, we’ll be in America. In Tulsa, to be specific. As a ‘founder family,’ we are chasing opportunities. My husband, Sjoerd, is not only passionate about giving but also eagerly seizes various opportunities. And I said yes, not only 16 years ago but also now, and together with our two children, we embark on this new adventure.

As 'founder family' we are chasing opportunities

It’s a step into the unknown, I admit. Entering the unfamiliar corridors of the new school building it smelled strange, and every fiber in me doubted if this was the right step. Would I drop off my barely English-speaking daughter at this door tomorrow? Would she thrive here? A public school in Tulsa; the city that many Americans look down upon because of its complex history, but now pulling out all the stops to rise above its history and be known for its inclusivity and generosity. 

And that’s precisely why we moved here. Generosity; the theme that has been central to our family every day for the past eight years, ever since Sjoerd wondered in church why he couldn’t participate in the collection without cash and thus the idea of Givt was born. He gathered people around him, and they went all out so that we could continue to give in this changing society. To the church, to charity, and to the neighbor’s giving campaign.

Until the next problem arose; as giving becomes increasingly digital, it also becomes less visible. And how do we teach our children, who mainly learn by seeing and imitating, to give? How do we make giving tangible again, now that we support our favorite charities with a recurring donation and the children are often at children’s service when we participate in the church collection? How do we teach children the habit of generosity? 

This question is also highly relevant in the United States. It’s noticeable that children seem to play a more prominent role here than in the Netherlands. Every day seems to revolve around various activities for the child. I suspect this is because a stable future is not as guaranteed, and parents want to seize every opportunity to prepare their child as thoroughly as possible (preferably with an advantage) for society. In a society so reliant on the generosity of others, these parents grapple with the question, “How can I raise my child to become a generous adult?”

We believe that Tulsa is the perfect place to answer this question. With churches abound and a community proud of its efforts for others, we think we belong in this city.

‘Why Tulsa?’ the gym teacher asked. “Because giving unites Tulsa.”

How do you teach your children the habit of generosity?