Rowinda Appelman

Advisor @ Youth Atlantic Treaty AssociationNetherlands
Rowinda Appelman
Rowinda Appelman

Advisor, Youth Atlantic Treaty Association/Member, NATO Emerging Leaders Working Group/President, Dutch Atlantic Youth Association

Rowinda specializes in youth engagement and international security. With the support of Meridian Social Innovation Fellowship, she created ABN: Actief Beter Nederlands, a coordinated effort to organize the growing immigrant community in Amsterdam to provide language training and networking. Rowinda has been named to the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. Listen to Rowinda talk about her future goals here.

Project Summary

ABN: Actief Beter Nederlands (formerly Language4Language) will establish social, cultural, and community service programs for expats in Amsterdam, organizing an existing network of over 5,000 potential participants. By expanding the audience and scope of the Amsterdam Language Café program, a monthly event that brings together the city’s international community, ABN will provide language trainings, workshops, and networking opportunities to an estimated 300 expats per month. Additional weekly activities will allow an even wider network to connect to the varied languages and cultures of the community while building valuable skills. The foundation’s charitable arm will funnel funds raised through ABN's cultural activities to youth projects in Nieuw West, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Amsterdam. This pairing of cultural activities and greater humanitarian goals has already attracted the attention of councils and youth organizations around the city.


My goal in life is to help shape the next generation to become inclusive world citizens. I want to help connect people and set up projects which will sustain themselves beyond my time.


Both ABN and ALC are thriving. ABN's pilot launched in July with 15 students and currently provides 18 migrant youth 2 hours of Dutch language training free each week, has mobilized 5 new volunteer teachers, and introduced Yoga as a complement to the language classes. ALC currently brings together 250 people for monthly language and cultural nights. Participants enter the event with nametags which state what languages they speak and which ones they want to learn. In November, they invited 12 Syrian refugees to participate and contribute. In 2016, they will look for three local partners to make it sustainable and explore expansion to neighboring and similarly diverse cities such as The Hague.