Weekly Meeting - Oct 10
Our Oct 10 meeting featured speaker Ferry Zandvliet, survivor of a massive terrorist attack in Paris. We were also honored by the presence of NYPD Commissioner James M. O’Neill and we inducted new member Ayana Muir
    Full report, photos, & Ferry's story inside.

Report of the Week – Meeting of Oct 10 
   by Andreas Runggatscher

On October 10, 2019 the Rotary Club of New York had its weekly meeting at the Penn Club of NYC at 12 noon. President Larry Cohen opened the meeting and we were honored by a wonderful rendition of “America the Beautiful” by Soprano Katrin Bulke (soon to be a member of our club!)

Then the invocation was delivered by Past President Jan Brown and we held a minute of silence for the passed on respected members of Rotary, Silvio Amori and Shaw Latif.

We were honored by the attendance of NYPD Commissioner James M. O’Neill who was interested in the topic and presentation and was engaging throughout the event.

We also inducted a new member – Ayana Muir.

Then Ferry Zandvliet gave his presentation:

"On Friday, 13 November 2015, I attended a concert by the The Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan theatre in Paris. That evening 89 people were shot dead and 300 wounded. There were another two attacks in Paris that night. In total 129 people were killed. It was a night that changed my whole life. Chronic insomnia, hyper-alertness, anxiety and serious PTSS problems dominated my life since that night from hell.

I noticed that while my immediate environment became harder and angrier, I personally felt the opposite. The social hardening around me forced me to speak up; I refused to be angry with the perpetrators, nor did I let people scare me. A week later, I again attended a concert, and I formed an intense friendship with the father of one of the terrorists who blew himself up in Le Bataclan.

By letting go of my anger and not giving in to my fear, my life has been enhanced. It is almost a spiritual journey and an enrichment of my life. People in my country, the Netherlands, supported us following a life television broadcast with Humberto Tan. I will never forget the support from the entire country.

I have now started a support group for victims of terrorism in the Netherlands; have taken steps to improve the treatment of victims (something that was not there for us at the time), and am sharing my story. This has grown naturally. Talking about what happened gave me much support in terms of processing my emotions in the beginning. I hope that people realize that it is senseless to give in to fear and anger through my story; you end up limiting yourself... I should know! Come and listen sometime soon."

It was a touching presentation at times very emotional as Ferry explained the events in great details and how he was able to escape that night in Paris while so many others were not. He was taken in by a couple in Paris, with whom he is now best friends. Years of PTSD and treatments resulted in Ferry having now a positive outlook and no more anger towards the terrorists. He explained how we all can be like that and should see life in a positive way. He event went to visit the parents of one of the terrorists (who killed himself) and how he shared emotions and deep feelings with them. He is convinced that they are not to blame for their son’s dark thoughts.

After a lively Q & A, the meeting adjourned at 1.20 pm.

Photos from the Meeting