News - October 13, 2011


There is an unwritten agreement that in the Westerners' eyes all the Chinese look the same. After attending a Dutch language course under the name of an absent Chinese student (whose initials are QH) on Tuesday night, I think it is probably true. Thanks to QH's absence, I enjoyed the experience of a Dutch course for free.

It was a beautiful mistake. I had planned to inform the teacher that I wanted to be an auditor during the course. But she mistook me for the Chinese guy in that course, who was coincidently absent. My wicked instinct kept me from telling her the truth. Instead I used the mistake to integrate into the course.
The course was called Dutch II. From 19.15 to 20.45, the whole class was conducted in Dutch by a good-natured lady. We practiced describing appearances as a warming-up. One had to use several sentences to describe his or her desk mate. This was followed by a listening exercise. First the teacher played a doggerel verse on the computer and then explained some minutiae of the text. During the break the teacher recommended several websites for learning Dutch.
After the break came the poetry recitation; one by one, three students from Portugal, Czech Republic and Indonesia presented a poem in their mother tongue, and explained it afterwards in Dutch. I was so enthusiastic that I wanted to perform a Chinese poem. ‘No, don't be so active Derek, you will get QH into trouble when he's back next time,' my Indonesian desk mate Aris stopped me when I going to ask for permission. His reminder nearly made me burst out laughing: I almost forgot I was just a phony QH. ‘He is a bit quiet, not like you,' Aris said, saving us from trouble.
It was a productive 90 minutes. Beforehand I heard some rumors about the high price and bad quality of this Dutch course. When I tested the water myself, however, I found it exceptionally well-prepared but also interesting. What's more, I found it an advantage to be Chinese, thanks to the Europeans' incapacity to tell two Asians apart. Finally, I just hope everything will go well with QH's Dutch study.