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Cruise Ship Analogy

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Note: This is a repost from its original publisher on this site: Cruise Ship Analogy

Welcome to Your Cruise Ship!

When we board a cruise ship, we know what to expect. Imagine getting into one of them and before you enter you were awed by the elegant look from the outside and were even astounded by the interior furnishings. When everyone has settled and are ready to enjoy the experience of being on one of these adventures, you asked the captain as to what the itinerary will be along with the plans in place for this journey. You were excited to hear what to expect as you started reviewing the brochure that was given to you when you registered and paid for this trip. You also brought out your mobile device and opened the company’s website to check the information about this option that you have chosen. Your mind briefly flashed back to the time you were searching for different options and looking at the exciting photos and videos along with the positive reviews on this particular cruise ship. Your imagination back then is now becoming a reality that you cannot hold back your enthusiasm.

Cruise Ship in the Education Industry

The emotions involved in the above scenario can also be the same when one is joining an educational institution whether as a student or a member of its staff. In this article we will use a K-12 institution located in one country in Asia as an example.

When this country started working on being considered as one of the commercial hubs of the world, her education sector had boomed also. She already had the basic education system where her national language was used as medium of teaching. But when international trade started to increase and the skills in the English language had become a necessity, her government started coming up with different programs for the state-managed schools. Along with this was the instruction for private schools to increase using the English Language in their courses and subjects which most of them had already started years earlier. These private schools and universities saw this business opportunity and came up with programs and systems of their own. Many of these are managed by foreigners who also hired foreign teachers as the English skills of locals are way below standard to teach English and other subjects in English. Some of the locals who own or manage private schools and universities were also educated in other countries and learned the skills of managing education institutions that prepare students into the global business trends.

Excited Parents and Students

Now let us take a closer look at the aforementioned K-12 private school. We will look at a scenario and momentary transfer our imagination from the cruise ship to that school. Your family is moving to this country because your company assigned you here. You started looking for a school to enroll your three kids with one starting in preschool, the other one will be moving up to grade 1, and the other starting in the middle school. You searched the Internet and compared the facilities that appear on the different schools’ websites and social network pages. You contacted each of them and requested for relevant information on enrollment as well as the costs. You also checked online if there were some reviews and other relevant information that may help in your decision-making. You whitelisted a few that you decided to visit. As you entered the first school in your list, you were impressed by what you saw. You immediately admired the stunning physical appearance along with its facilities. You spoke with the administrative and registration officers, and were given a tour around the school. You were even more impressed on what you were seeing that you considered this school be on the top of the list of your options.

Then you started to ask questions beyond the obvious. What about the school’s system, the curriculum, teachers, accreditation, affiliations as well as other relevant information about the actual learning inside the classroom? The officer gave you all the information you wanted to know and you were satisfied with the answers to your queries. However, you still did not forget that you had other schools in your list that you needed to visit as well. So you thanked them and left to see the other schools. At the end after considering the cost, the safety, convenience and other factors, you decided to go back to the first school you visited and you enrolled your three kids in that school. You were so excited and purchased other necessary items that your kids need, including uniforms, books, electronic devices required by the school along with other relevant materials and resources. You also paid the required fees and visited the school once again for a final orientation a few days before the start of the school year.

On the first day of school year you were excited to drop your kids at the school. The kids too were excited to wear their new uniforms and to be identified with the school. As all your doubts were cleared by the answers to your queries, you were all ready to start the year at, and with, their new school as you look forward to the exciting years ahead in your new home.

At the school you met new friends whose kids were also enrolled there, and you found out that some of them did not bother to search other schools because when they came here, they saw the stunning facilities along with the “sweet words” of the registration/admission officer who was really convincing which made them decide that it was no longer necessary to look elsewhere. This made you even become more optimistic and placed all your hope on this institution, thinking that you had made the right choice.

Excited New Teacher

On the other side, you were a teacher looking for a job. You found an advertisement that says only whitelisted applicants will be called for an interview. You applied for the position. The HR manager called you and instructed you to come for an interview. You were hired and were given an overview of the school’s system. As you were astounded by the physical appearance of the school and its facilities you were also excited when you were informed on details about the school’s system and resources the school has in place for an ideal education institution for both teachers and students. You were required to report to work two days before the students start their classes. Those days will be preparatory periods along with processing of your documents to have your employment legalized. That day came and as the new students were excited to start their classes in two days, you too were excited to start your first day at work. As new member of the staff, you had a lot of questions to ask. You were then directed to the school administrator for the needed briefing. You asked what all teachers ask from their administrators and supervisors as you excitedly wait to be given the needed proper guidance, a normal procedure in any organization. 

Get Your Oar and Row!

Back in the cruise ship, you heard someone starting to make announcement. So you focused your attention to him. He started with these words:

“Thank you for choosing our company and particularly this cruise ship. As you have seen, we have the most awesome design of our ship along with the furnishings that are beyond compare. This ship has been here for 15 years and as you can see on our website and brochure it is among the best of all the cruise ships on this part of the earth. Our package includes independent routes and exploration, and that you can decide on which way you want to go. We have small boats that are attached on the side and on other parts of this ship that you can use to explore the vicinity of the ship, although you cannot go far. With this you will enjoy your stay in our ship even more. As you have noticed in our brochure and advertisements, there are boats and other vessels that are floating alongside our ship. These are the ones that our clients can use to roam around the ship and enjoy the scenery while managing their own boats. We hope that you enjoy your stay.”

And that ends the introduction of the administrator representative. You were excited, but at the same time puzzled by the announcement. However, you focused on the exciting part of being on this cruise ship.

But a question lingered in your mind. How can this ship arrive at her destination if we just take one of the boats and just roam around it while others are doing the same? Even worse is that everyone goes in every direction and no one is guiding us except the assigned staff that helps in managing the boat that we take? You even noticed that the small boats have engines but the staff were the ones who are trying to maintain and make them work properly. Then you noticed that the whole ship does not seem to be working properly. You don’t hear the engine running while the ship floats aimlessly on the water. You started to ask fellow passengers as well as the staff and the situation was becoming clearer to you. Eventually you came close to another ship and found out that some of the passengers there were former client of your cruise ship. Your suspicion was confirmed when you were informed that your ship does not have an engine and a rudder.

Back in the ship, you again asked one of the administrators, who was incidentally with the captain, and your jaw dropped as you heard the confirmation on the absence of an engine and a defective rudder. Worse was that you were instructed to pick up one of the oars that you need to move this ship and steer it to the direction that you want. The captain further said, “You can do whatever you want and you can decide on which direction you can go. And as you are already here, you can now enjoy whatever is here. I would like to assure you that this ship, despite not having an engine and a defective rudder, does not sink.”

You tried to get in contact with the sales manager you spoke with at the start when you were about to book this trip. You were informed at the beginning that the manager will also be onboard and along with the captain will look after the ship’s passengers’ welfare. However, you could not get an appointment and were surprised that the seemingly all-present manager during your booking process is nowhere to be found although was also onboard. You were then directed to another man who works under the supervision of the captain and were told that he can answer all your questions. You approached the man and found out that he is not aware of your issues and questions and he could not even give you the basic information about the system of the cruise ship. You started to plan for an exit and get your money back but since the ship was already pushed and towed to the open waters you had no option than to stay until you dock on the next destination. You soon found out that the ones who were steering the ship with their oars were primarily the staff and most of the time the passengers also need to help. Some of the passengers were bullies but when incidents of bullying were reported to the captain, he scolds the complainers telling them that those were normal occurrences in that ship and anywhere else. When the staff saw the bullying and confirmed them to the captain, the captain tells them it is none of their business. Interestingly this ship continues to float and there are still people who are attracted to its advertisement. They only realize being in the wrong place when they are already on it that is too late to withdraw and the only option is to wait until they get to the next dockyard to get off and transfer to another ship. The money these unwary passengers pay is just enough for the wages of its crew and for the upkeep and maintenance of the ship. The captain and the manager seem to be comfortable with the present arrangement and no longer care or worried about the ship’s not having an engine and a rudder. The owners of the ship are not aware of this and when issues come to their attention, they confront the captain and the manager who always have ready excuses or someone to blame.

The former captain of the ship had everything in place including a good engine and a perfectly working rudder. But when he left, these were not maintained as the new appointed captain was not even qualified for the job at the very beginning. The manager too was not qualified but because he worked along the previous captain his deficiency was not obvious and was tempered and compensated by the captain’s efficiency. However, now that he works along with an inefficient captain, the deficiency has become more and more obvious.

Academic Deficiency

You could not believe your ears when you were told by the academic administrator that you are free to do what you think is the best for your class. You asked for the curriculum of the school so you could start building your syllabus and lesson plans but were told to speak with your immediate supervisor who will give you further guidance. You were given copies of the textbooks the students use in their lessons and were told to base your syllabus and lesson plans on those references, along with other resources you can find on the Internet. You were also shared online documents containing the incomplete syllabus and skeletal lesson plans of the former teacher that you were replacing.

You tried to get some feedback from other teachers so you have a rough idea on what to expect but failed to get enough information to give you an established foothold, leaving your mind floating as to where and how to start. Realising the situation, one of your colleagues left after a few days and landed on a more academically established school. You too realised being in the wrong place but decided to stay as there was no immediate alternative for you on that dire moment. You started wondering how this school survived for almost two decades of existence on such condition without significant growth.

“This Ship Does Not Sink”

The captain of the cruise ship said that it will not sink. Yes indeed, it survived 16 years floating aimlessly in the open sea with small boats attached to it that passengers can detach and enjoy their independence going around in the direction they wanted as long as they are within the vicinity of the ship. But where do the management get the money to maintain the ship and its facilities? The answer came when you noticed that as the boat docked on the next island, more people were coming in while others were leaving. You decided to stay and see what happens next. You also noticed that some passengers and staff had been there for sometime, even years, which gave you hope that staying maybe the best option for you at the moment.

You then realised that those new unwary passengers were the ones keeping the ship from sinking and that although recently the in-out passenger turnover had been unbalanced to the negative, it was enough to sustain the financial necessity for survival. It’s true that although the ship floats aimlessly in the open sea with an incompetent captain and manager without an engine and a rudder, the rest of the staff were competent enough in their respective assignments to steer it with their own oars – while waiting for the right time to move to another ship. Some decided to stay and enjoy the ride while it is still floating but were ready anytime things change and finally have to abandon ship.


A related scenario that adds details to this story can be found in the article, “The Two Sides of an Academic Institution”


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Note: This is a repost from its original publisher on this site: Cruise Ship Analogy

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The Two Sides of Academic Institutions

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Note: This is a repost from its original publisher on this site: The Two Sides

The Client

The parents and students looking for a school. For instance, a family with three kids. One starting in preschool, the other one will be moving up to grade 1, and the other starting with the middle school. They searched the Internet and compared the facilities that appear on the different schools’ websites and social network pages. They contacted each of them and requested for relevant information on enrollment as well as the costs. They also checked online if there were some reviews and other relevant information that may help in their decision-making. They whitelisted a few that they decided to visit. As they entered one of the schools in their list, they were impressed by what they saw. They immediately admired the stunning physical appearance along with its facilities. They met with the administrative and registration officers, and were given a tour around the school. They were even more impressed on what they were seeing and considered this school at the top of the list of their options.

Then they started to ask questions beyond the obvious. What about the school’s system, the curriculum, teachers, accreditation, affiliations as well as other relevant information on its academic credibility and the actual learning inside the classroom? The officer provided all the information they wanted to know that they were satisfied with the answer to their queries. However, they still did not forget that they had other schools in their list that they needed to visit as well. So they thanked the officers and left to see the other schools. At the end after considering the cost, the safety, convenience and other factors, they decided to go back to the first school they visited. They enrolled their three kids in that school.

They were so excited and purchased other necessary items that their kids needed, including uniforms, books, electronic devices required by the school along with other relevant materials and resources. They also paid the required fees and visited the school once again for a final orientation a few days before the start of the school year.

The School

A new family visited the school. After completing the necessary evaluation and weighing the different factors, they were finally excited to enroll three of their kids. As they were stunned with the facilities, they were also satisfied with the officers’ answers to their queries. They completed all necessary paper works and paid the deposit.

At the first day of school year, the parents were excited to drop their kids at the school. The kids too were excited to wear their new uniforms and to be identified with the school. As all their doubts were cleared by the answers to their queries, they were all ready to start the year at, and, with their new school. As days went on, the excitement seemed to be fading from the students’ faces. The office phones are starting to ring and emails received. The parents were calling asking for clarifications as they had noticed, and their kids reported, that although the facilities were good, the academic side was not and most of those that were mentioned to them during their first visit as well as prior to the enrollment were non-existent. The administrator who was always present to welcome the parents at the outset is no longer available to answer their questions. Eventually, they had no options than to go to the school to personally speak with the concerned officers. Still the said officers were not around and teachers were the ones who were assigned to attend to the needs of the parents and students and to answer their questions.

A few weeks before the end of the semester, the oldest of the three kids informed the office that he was no longer coming back next semester. Only the two younger siblings will remain. Before the end of the second semester, the parents sent an email that the second child was no longer coming back the following year and only the third will stay. The third child completed two years and also moved to another school. No reasons were given and the school administrators did not bother to ask the family.

Why did this happen? The other scenario below can give light to this.

The Restaurant Analogy in Education

The above scenario can be explained by a situation that leads to a similar outcome. A family just arrived to live for the father’s long-term job contract at an area and was looking for a restaurant to enjoy their dinner and to help them decide on which to patronize eventually. They searched the Internet and found a few places. They checked the facilities through the photos on the establishments’ websites, the menus and the different presentations of the food.

They decided to try a few of them on the first week to see where they will go the next and try to establish friendship with. They went for a dinner at one of them on Monday and the following six days to six different restaurants during the week. The managers had different ways of welcoming their new guests and the family started to compare all seven of them. The food, the presentation, the treatment of the whole staff as well as the environment had differences which the family immediately started to feel.

They did the same thing the following week and started to notice that the differences are becoming noticeable and they had now come up with their theory as to which one was the best down to the worst. The process was repeated on the third week and the consistency between each shop’s website as well as what they were told at their first visits by the managers and the reality had become obvious. They repeated the process one more week to establish their conclusion and at the end, they were able to make a wise decision as to which of the seven they will patronize more.

Academic institutions, just like restaurants, serve what people need, and want. In some cases though the parents and students are not really aware or have no idea of what they exactly need. When prospective clients visit a school they expect the best from that institution. Although some of the parents and students may have little idea on what academic excellence means, everyone regardless of cultural background and social status in life have basic and common needs as far as education is concerned.

The institution therefore has the responsibility to help their clients understand what they need and to steer them to the right direction. Because restaurant customers have different tastes and likes, the establishment cannot also satisfy everyone’s want. But customers are always willing to go into a compromise especially where they have no choice, or when they realize it is not worth fighting over a small difference. As long as the discrepancies or inconsistencies are minor or are well-explained, a reasonable customer can understand and  is willing to overlook them.

When a restaurant displays a brief description of its menu such as Asian, American, Indian or Mediterranean Cuisine, the customers have an idea on what to expect. An academic institution’s menu is its curriculum and usually described as British, American, IB and so forth, which immediately give the prospective client a rough idea of what to expect. When students enroll, they expect to see and hear what is described in the school’s curriculum or menu. There are of course some variations on how these are delivered. Just like the food and ambience in a restaurant, the consistency between what the menu says and what the customers actually taste and experience determines whether the establishment or institution be able to keep its clients, or lose them.

In the scenario above, the clients initially believed what was explained to them and what they saw seemed to reinforce what they initially heard and felt. But when they had the actual taste and experience of being inside and part of that institution, they saw the inconsistency and failure of the school and its administrators to live by what they claim they are, both on their website and other digital as well as verbal presentations they had, as against what the reality was. The worse is that no one was there to entertain questions and needed clarifications when the parents personally visited the school after failure in their attempt to communicate through email and telephone which was not the case at the beginning. Just like the restaurants that lost their customers, the school also lost its client.


The above can be compared to another situation that you may find interesting on this link:
The Cruise Ship Analogy in Education

Note: This is a repost from its original publisher on this site: The Two Sides

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Existential Flexibility-The Ralston Principle

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Note: This is a repost from its original publisher on this site: Existential Flexibility-The Ralston Principle

In 2003, Aron Ralston was hiking alone in Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon when he was trapped by a falling boulder where his right hand and wrist were stuck underneath a massive rock. Ralston survived on minimal food and water even resorting to drinking his own urine. No communication device in his possession and no one knew where he was going, he had to use unconventional solutions to save his life. He used the limited tools he had to amputate his trapped arm, rappelled 65 feet down rockface and eventually rescued by a family who fortunately was passing by.¹

Ralston said later, “The lesson is that resilience is about flexibility.” However, there is another word (adverb) we would like to add to this: existential. What is existential flexibility², and how can this be applied to the current education system we have? We will focus on the education industry and we will see how such quality can be used to face the challenging times we are in today.

Simon Sinek describes existential flexibility  as, “The capacity to initiate an extreme disruption to a business model or strategic course in order to more effectively advance a Just Cause.” In other words, it is a drastic and most of the time offensive action one has to take in order to survive and continue existing. Contrary to the defensive adjustments one has to take to maintain his current course,  existential flexibility is resorting to a totally different approach and most of the time opposite the current course one has to take in order to survive and be able to reach the intended goal or objective. It is an unconventional and offensive maneuver one has to accept to take to continue floating and sailing as it were.³ 

Having existential flexibility means coming to terms with the fact that everything will go on with or without the one we perceive as essential. With such quality, one has to be willing to lose something no matter how precious it seems to be to achieve a just cause, be agile and willing to pivot and make a massive shift to something new or even into something he considered before as stupidity. Leaders in the education industry must let go of long held notions and ideas that no longer serve them. 

Most of the time however, the opposite is happening. Leaders tend to protect their current model and refuse to adapt the needed changes, not realising that such leads to a certain death of their organization. In Ralston’s case, he could have chosen death but kept his arm. But his “just cause” was to survive and continue living. He was looking forward to his becoming a father and other prospects he will enjoy if he will continue living even without the arm that he was about to amputate. His action and decision was in agreement with what one wise ancient king wrote where he said, “There is hope for whoever is among the living, because a live dog is better off than a dead lion”*. In this article and on other related topics and pages of this site, we will call this as the Ralston Principle.

Education industry leaders of any country, or on a smaller scale an education institution, cannot overlook the importance of a crystal clear “just causes” of the existence of their organization or institution. There are three of them. First is the quality of education to the citizens or students (their clients). Second is the affordability of the services, and third is the efficient delivery of the products or services.  These leaders should be willing to do the necessary offensive pivot even to the point of becoming stupid in their own eyes or standard to be able to survive and reach their just cause. Old school education leaders tend to stick to a system that they were accustomed to as young students and eventually educators, and is difficult for them to adapt a new system or innovate new ideas to keep up with the fast-moving scenarios their clients face. The Covid-19 pandemic is just one example that necessitates an abrupt change in a system to be able to continue providing the necessary services of education institutions to their students.  

We cannot deny the fact that institutions whether they exist for profit or non-profit causes need money to survive. The source of this money is of course from the enrollments, and many education industry players resort to different marketing strategies to attract more clients. They continue to keep abreast with the latest marketing strategies that other industry players are employing to attract more enrollments. But since marketing is only as good as the quality of the product, these institutions must also improve their products or services and innovate new systems that are appropriate or fitted in today’s conditions and client mindsets and needs. Adopting new marketing strategies without improving the quality of the products or services, or not adjusting according to the changing market trend, may have temporary and short-term benefits which leads to a stunted growth, and in the long run to the eventual death of the company or institution. 

So how can education leaders apply the Ralstone Doctrine? What scenarios and market trends Covid-19 and other events had brought about and what necessary existential flexibility is needed to face these challenges?


¹ Between A Rock And A Hard Place – by Aron Ralston
² Not to be confused with existentialism. This article never refers to that.
³ The Capacity for Existential Flexibility
 The Holy Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:4 (NWT)

Note: This is a repost from its original publisher on this site: Existential Flexibility-The Ralston Principle

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For our visitors who love to read novels and other learning materials, we added some links and pages for your enjoyment. We have partnered with friends who authored and published their books, and are very much willing to let our visitors read them for free. These books contain accounts of their writers’ experiences as they participated in different endeavors of life which many had become part of history. Enjoy your virtual adventure with them.

The Author as a WW2 US Marine

When the Second World War ended in 1945, the 6th Marine Division, just coming from the Battle of Okinawa, was in Guam. This was the only Marine division that was formed and disbanded overseas and never set foot in the United States. The announcement of Japan’s surrender was a relief that finally the marines can go back to their families.

However a new instruction and assignment was issued. They were going to China. What was this Presidential Unit Citation awardee going to do in China?

READ this book…

Bataan Death March

Army private Mario Machi was a survivor of the notorious Bataan Death March after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines one day after Pearl Harbor. He was among the first American enlisted troops that was sent to the Philippines in mid-1941. Under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, they defended Bataan and Corregidor until their surrender, which eventually lead to the infamous death march.

This is one of the first-hand stories you will ever find.

Feel the author’s ordeal.

READ this book…

How to Become One

Harold Stephens is a prolific writer and dedicated to his profession. He has written more than thirty books-travel, adventure, biographies and novels-and over four thousand magazine and newspaper stories, TV and video scripts, movie documentaries, and just about anything that has to do with the written word.

“You’ll never make it as a writer,” editors told him, as did most everyone else. How did he beat the odds?

Good read for aspiring writers and bloggers.

READ this book…

The Only Land Travel

“a trip around the world driving  a Toyota Land Cruiser and camper across blazing deserts and through hostile countries, over nearly impassable roads, and in all kinds of weather, including monsoon rains and desert ghiblis, is quite an adventure! The authors covered 42,252 tortuous miles from New York City to France, south to Spain, across North Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, Panama, and finally back to New York to break all previous records for driving non-repetitive mileage.
Ruth G. Dorman, Library Journal

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Navigating the Ocean

Besides circumnavigating the earth with a 4WD Jeep and a Toyota Land Cruiser, our author, Harold Stephens, always wanted to build his own boat and travel around the world with it, conquering earth’s huge bodies of water. In the end, it was not just him but his entire family enjoyed this adventure. How did he get into this in the first place? Who influenced him?

Let’s join him as he relates how he started.

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The Author’s Adventures

After his discharge from the marines, our author, Steve, returned to his family in the US to enjoy his benefits under the GI bill. Got a job and started a family. However, his love for adventure and writing kept on pestering him prompting him to go back to Asia and other places he had been during the war.

This book is a collection of true stories and true happenings. The places are real and the incidents took place as the author can best remember them. Let us join him and feel the adventures within your comfort zone.

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The Life of an Artist

We know well the story. An artist struggles a lifetime, earning perhaps only a crust of bread, forever on the brink of starvation, never giving up. Then one day, long after he has gone, his works are discovered.

This is such a story of Swiss artist Theo Meier, but it is more than an artist’s struggles and his success, It’s a story of adventure-his running off as a young man and, following in the footsteps of Gauguin, going to Tahiti to live and paint, his vagabonding across the Pacific aboard trading schooners and his living with cannibals in the savage New Hebrides.

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The 17th Century Thailand

King Narai of Siam, King Louis XIV of France, Pope Innocent XI of Rome, a Japanese maiden and a shipwrecked Greek sailor, all become entangled once upon a time in history in a story so true and so real it leaves the reader with puzzling question, why hasn’t it ever been told?

This is the story of the old kingdom of Thailand, then called Siam, during King Narai’s reign, in its former capital Ayutthaya before the Burmese destroyed it prompting the government to move its capital down south which was then called Bangkok by the Dutch.

READ this book…


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