My daughter Jo-ann had her first diploma at the age of four: a 'Pieten Diploma' for her gymnastic prowess in throwing wrapped presents down the chimney, climbing onto the roof, jumping from roof to roof, and doing somersaults on the ground. Her next conquest was the ability to tie shoe-laces (a notable feat since it frees many teachers from this task), for which she was awarded a knotting diploma.
- eight birthday diplomas (Armed with a big postcard and flanked by two chaperons proud to be chosen from among those in her class, she made the rounds every year to get the signatures and well wishes of every grown-up in school);
- several swimming diplomas (the first was for graduating from the baby pool);
- several hockey diplomas (starting with a 'mini-hockey certificate' signed by the chairman of the Dutch national hockey association);
- a certificate for doing her best in technical lessons from a Dutch technical education authority;
- a skipping certificate at the age of eleven for participating on school grounds in a world record attempt at rope skipping in October 2006;
- a traffic diploma from the Dutch traffic safety association (signed by its director) for observing traffic rules in cycling;
- a first-aid diploma for passing the final exam for the youth, awarded by the Orange Cross.
And lastly, she received a Citizen of the World certificate for having attended lessons in basic humanistic education from the HVO Federation, for '...having learnt how to think about her own life in relation to that of others... to be more conscious in her choice to take care of herself, others and the nature. This choice will enable her to live socially and be a part of the world's population.' I suppose that this is a typical Dutch aspiration.
I must add, though, that although Jo-ann had so many diplomas in the first eight years of her study life, she hasn't brought home any since she started attending secondary school three years ago, although she's working much harder nowadays. I guess it's time I give her a diploma myself. Even though I'm not Dutch.
Keen-Mun Poon, translator with Resource