News - November 4, 2011

Talkie Walkie Ⅲ - A reverse interview with Ashleigh Elson

Last Tuesday, I received an email from a lady called Ashleigh Elson, a producer of RNW (Radio Netherlands Worldwide).

Ashleigh was carrying out the interview with ne and Roy, my Chinese colleague in the Student Council.
She is making a series of web articles about the Dutch Top 10 universities; Wageningen University is her target this week.
I was invited to be interviewed. How could I refuse an interview from my favorite Dutch international medium? I accepted without any hesitation. The interview was arranged at Forum and lasted for around 15 minutes. The questions were all about our personal experience in the Netherlands such as our stories of the Dutch food, language and weather. I felt strange being interviewed by a beautiful journalist who I never thought I could see in my real life. After the interview an impulsive question spontaneously came out of my mouth: 'Ashleigh, can I make a reverse interview with you?' and she said 'yes'!
Self introduction
Four and a half years ago Ashleigh moved from Toronto, Canada with her ex-husband who got a job in the Netherlands. When everything was settled down, she found a job at the Foot Locker. 'It was a disaster,' she decided to quit the job while she was still in the probation period. Just a few weeks after the resignation she received the offer from RNW and started to work there, and she still does.

Dutch language
She shared her story of learning Dutch. 'At the beginning I was scared to try,' she said, 'but now I can speak Dutch with most Dutch people...except for my current boyfriend.' 'Why?' I asked. 'Just want to be perfect when facing him,' her answer surprised me a bit, but when noticing the happiness written on her face, I realized it's not that difficult to understand.

The biggest surprise
When she asked this question I found it hard to give a clear answer, but in turn Ashleigh had her opinion more directly: 'I didn't expect so many differences between Dutch and Canadians,' she answered, 'Canadians are more friendly and smiley towards random strangers.' We explored this topic for a long time, somehow I attempted to defend the Dutch while she also admitted maybe it's just the difference between the urban and the rural area. Finally we reached an agreement: even many differences exist, 'what matters to the people in the end is the same', she said, 'that is the family, kids, health or job.'
About the future
During the talk Ashleigh taught me a Dutch saying: 'doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg.' In a nutshell it means 'just be normal, that's strange enough already'. She said that compared to the Netherlands people in Canada are more encouraged to be different and outstanding. No matter if it's true or not, one can't
deny what she's doing is special and unique; besides this Dutch universities series, she's also writing the column 'Fun Fact Friday', in which a piece of Typical Dutch is introduced every Friday in RNW. Unfortunately, due to the budget-cuts by the Dutch parliament, RNW might have to reduce its staff by more than 70%; Ashleigh is inevitably facing another crossroad in her life. 'Maybe I have to go back to Canada,' she said.
Ashleigh, no matter where to be, good luck with your future!

Statement: the views of Ashleigh above are only from herself and not necessarily representative of the stance of RNW.