“You pronounce it ‘Scheveningen’. The workshop Connecting has not even started yet, when all kinds of cultural differences and similarities are shared - in this case it is Dutch tongue-twisters. On the basis of questions, symbols and short games the master’s students get to know each other.
Indians Smit Srivastava, Seshan PS and Anish Kumar Gonada, Dutchman Jop van den Broek and Mexican Javier Alvarez are feeling a bit out of their element when showing each other photos of important persons in their lives – the first ‘assignment’ of the workshop. Seshan and Anish Kumar have known each other since high school, but for the others the only similarity is that they are standing at the same table and have come here to study. Soon, though, they begin to take an interest in each other’s customs and there proves to be a great deal of common ground.
Thus, they learn from Jop how much fun carnival is, it must be well-nigh impossible to taste all the flavors featuring in the Indian kitchen and Mexicans are not so direct as Dutchmen by a long chalk – but fortunately Javier Alvarez had been warned about this beforehand by his Dutch girl-friend. The foreign students have to get used especially to the nocturnal silence in the Netherlands. “In India you always hear the ventilator.”
They are of one mind about what is important in life: helping others and making progress oneself. There is also lots of laughter. For instance when Smit Srivastava, when presented with the star symbol (assignment: associate on the basis of symbols), has to think of his childhood; as a reward for good work at primary school, his teacher would draw a star on his assignment paper. Conversely, a star makes his fellow countryman think of a critical review. While others remember that they got stickers at primary school by way of reward. And another fun fact: the international students all turn out to have tasted a ‘frietje kapsalon’ already.
At the end of the session, there is some time for reflection. One of the students summarizes the workshop nicely: “This was a good way to break the ice!”