It is around 4pm on an ordinary day when you suddenly find out that the film you have wanted to see for ages is on tonight in town. But only tonight. And since you cannot download it from any internet source, you will have to go to the movies tonight. “Fine”, you think, as you wanted to go out with some friends anyway.
Back in 1980, Greece and the European Union (that was called the European Economic Community/EEC) at that time were conducting final talks that led to the admission of Greece to the EEC the year after. One of these talks took place in Athens in the Greek capital. The EEC-delegation headed by a top civil servant -a Danish woman- was welcomed at the airport by their Greek hosts. These were all older men with grey hair and a bit of a belly (what the Germans appropriately call Wohlstandsbauch). While trying to identify the head of the EEC-delegation, they were obviously looking for the older man, a peer like them in that group.
“But if there is no selection to get admitted, what is this study program worth?”, someone suggested at an international forum on academic matters. This point of view is typical of some cultures in which competition, selection and individual rewards are quite common.
You arrived late in class and although you managed to sneak in via the door at the back, the teacher spotted you and shouted at you “Make sure you are on time, next time” while you were trying to mumble some excuse. As a result, you felt excessively individualized and ashamed, and experienced a loss of face for this unexpected feed-back. Indeed, in your culture you would have been able to enter the classroom unnoticed.
We are all coaches. Good parents coach their kids in a way that they become more friends than parents; inspiring leaders and collaborative managers coach their employees into being responsive and responsible team players. At the TU/e, versatile teachers now coach their students in their educational and personal development, and some Dutch students at TU/e also coach their international peers to help them integrate more quickly and better into our community. And let’s not forget that 17 million Dutch people often act as the coach of the national soccer team. Incidentally, it’s rather quiet in this respect at the moment…
"Les 12 points du jury français vont à la Chine!" France’s maximum points going to China in the Eurovision song contest is still fiction. But as we just saw last Saturday with Australia as a guest participant, there’s already some opening to globalize this annual mega-show. This year’s vintage largely turned into a platform for predominantly Anglo-American loud music again supported by swinging and swirling dance, and flashing and sparkling light shows, next to a few bizarre solo national(istic) performances. And again, the results proved to be a mix of predictable attitudes by countries casting their votes based on (past) political or cultural affinity, and of more objective and only artistic considerations.
“We all need symbols in life. Whether animals we venerate, monuments we admire, or real or fictive characters we worship”, I wrote in a previous column when I was trying to identify the Dutch symbol par excellence: the fiets.
“Do you have anything else other than milk?”, I cautiously asked looking at the range of milk but also cartons of fruit juice and of course the standard coffee and tea displayed on the table in front of me. “Oh yes, sir, we also have butter milk”. I silently sighed and ventured to ask for just water with some sarcasm in my voice. “Oh I’m sorry, but we don’t have water”. No water for lunch? After insisting a bit, I finally got some water from the faucet in the nearby pantry, along with lots of apologies. Probably a recognizable situation for many internationals in the Netherlands.
In the past months, as I was cycling past ‘Parkview’, the new student housing building on our TU/e-Science Park, I’ve seen the building rise at the high speed of one floor a week. The weeks passed by until the 13th week when much to my surprise construction suddenly stopped. I counted and recounted the numbers of levels, indeed thirteen (13), no more and no less. I immediately wondered who would like to live on the 13th floor of a housing building here in the Netherlands.
Alaaf vs nihao… was the choice I had to make regarding these two major cultural events that were back to back and overlapped this year. Indeed, the Chinese Spring Festival a.k.a. The Lunar New Year met Carnival a.k.a. Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras last week. But choosing was easy because Carnival has never meant much for me (not my culture… and I don’t like beer), whereas Chinese festivities as a whole trigger my curiosity and nourish my intercultural hunger. So I quickly decided to devote my time and energy to participating in the Chinese Spring Festival.
Meest gelezen opiniestuk
Misschien heb je het gemist, maar het STU is het STU niet meer. Nee, voortaan hebben we te maken met de ESA: de Education and Student Affairs. En daar is iets bijzonders mee. Niet alleen is dit een volgende stap in de verengelsing van de campus, maar tevens tekent zich een patroon af. Waar sommige universiteiten slechts grossieren in ongelukkige afkortingen als Leiden University Library (s/o naar de Katholieke Universiteit Tilburg), wordt de TU/e met de European Space Agency een echte space campus.
Ik heb de hele zomer naar kamers in Eindhoven gezocht, aangezien ik na NS-apocalypse #236 het op en neer treinen zat was. Overigens met succes. Ik heb veel soorten kamers voorbij zien komen, van vorstelijk kasteel tot derdewereld-krot, maar eén ding bleef iedere keer hetzelfde: de groepsbezichtiging was keer op keer een bizarre ervaring.
Groepswerk is vreselijk en we doen het helemaal verkeerd. Ik zie het dagelijks bij mijn studenten, mijn kinderen, mijzelf. Het eindeloze wachten, het onbegrip, de misverstanden, en dat ze dan niet opleveren wat was afgesproken, of niet begrijpen dat ik écht even geen tijd had.