Nieuws - 14 maart 2013

Mini debate over internationalization

Last Monday after a "gezellig" talk with the Dutch minister of Economic Affairs, an unexpected debate sparked off among a small group of people with interesting identities: a journalist of De Gelderlander, the rector, two Student Council representatives, the former chairwoman of ISOW and me, the only no-title small potato in the debate.

Sorry for dear Minister, your assistant had something more interesting for me.
The journalist first praised the global ambience of Wageningen. To strengthen the journalist's impression, the rector listed a series of figures, which he must know by heart, about the high international level of his university. But the Dutch students didn't buy his statistics and kicked off a debate about the issues that foreign students may encounter.
Loneliness in Bornsesteeg
What I found most interesting about this hot spot was not the arguments between the rector and student councillors, but how busy the rector was explaining to the journalist. He struggled to guarantee no misunderstanding by the newspaper. Although it's not an issue I am concerned with, I wanted to give my voice: 'for those who like to live alone, that's a perfect place. If you don't, you'll find a way to move out.' The journalist pointed his approval index finger at me, which made me feel flattered.
International teachers
'It's pity that most of our teachers have white faces,' The former ISOW chairwoman lead us to another topic. She appealed to the rector that more international lecturers should be introduced. Strangely they digressed to discuss if more female professors should be promoted. Again I played the role to wrap up their arguments: 'I don't care if the teachers are men or women as long as they are good. It's the quality that matters, not the quantity.'
Dutch hospitality
We also discussed language. 'Even after class we can also speak English if the foreigner students are there,' one Dutch said. Somehow I was afraid the journalist might misparaphrase the word "can" to "must", so I added my last comment to this debate: 'they don't have to speak English in any case with foreigners. For instance when you're back home after one day's work, you feel so tired, it's easier to think in your mother tongue than in English.' When in the Netherlands do as the Dutch do, this is the cliché I want to share with everyone.
It's pity that the minister missed this debate and the true voices which he should have listened to.