by Charles L. Pieters
Aloha, my name is Charles L. Pieters, and I was born in Alkmaar, Netherlands in the early sixties. I have one sister and a brother. My father left Batavia now called Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1957 to go to Netherlands and was settled by the Dutch government in a small town called Schoorl, Netherland, with my first Opa and Oma. My first Opa passed away a year later and my Oma remarried to my second Opa. I never met my first Opa on my dad side but remember my second Opa very well while I was in Netherlands. My Oma and second Opa finally moved to Alkmaar and settled there with my father and his six brothers and two sisters.
My father met my mother, who is also an Indo, in Alkmaar where my brother, sister, and I were born. I still remember going to Catholic school where the nuns and teachers where extremely strict. We left Alkmaar in 1969 and settled in a town called Concord, California. When I came to the US, I did not speak or understand English at all but had a great teacher. I still speak and understand Dutch, but to read it or write, I have a difficult time. I use Google translation, lol!
My parents’ divorced when I was young and my father raised my brother, sister, and me as a single parent. He was extremely strict but we always had his support and insured us that we always had a good life. My father taught me a lot as I was growing up. He always told me you must always do your best, son, in whatever you do; don’t disgrace our name; and be proud that you are Dutch Indonesian (Indo).
After I graduated from high school, I joined the United States Army at age 17 for a two-year enlistment and was stationed in Germany. I went to Alkmaar every month to see my family in Alkmaar since it was only a four-hour train ride. It was so great seeing the family again and eating Indo food. I wanted to leave the Army as soon as my enlistment contract was over, but the Army and my father convinced me to reenlist. I started to go to some Army Leadership schools, traveled all over the world and started to like it, instilling leadership into my young life at the time. Well, what started as a two-year enlistment ended up being 31 years of active-duty military service, and I achieved the rank of Command Sergeant Major, which is the highest rank one can achieve as an enlisted soldier in the military.
When it came to my reenlistment in 1984 , I wanted to be stationed in Panama, but it was not available at the time. I was offered Hawaii and had to think about it for one day. I spoke to my father for his advice and guidance. I have never been to Hawaii and only heard about it being a very tourist destination. I decided to take an assignment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. I have been here in Hawaii ever since and also was naturalized in Honolulu to be U.S. citizen in 1986.
I retired at age 47 from the military in 2010 and started to work for Disney on the island of Oahu as a driver taking guests from Waikiki to the resort where I work. Disney found out I had some leadership skills and asked me to be a manager in 2012. Now, I am in a new role as a Planning Project Associate here at this awesome and beautiful resort called Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa and Support Disneyland in California.
I am living my dream by being in paradise, but I miss my Indo food. Life is good.
I am proud to be an Indo!