Posted by: clare on: September 23, 2011
On news in a Dutch university with a big expat community
The Cursor is the TU/e’s internal newsletter. After a summer break, it just relaunched with the new academic year.
Of course, I’m living in the Netherlands: Dutch is the main language, and naturally the Cursor is mostly in Dutch. Last year, it included an ‘English page’ with a few articles, often things like recommendations for things to do in the local area and brief explanations of aspects of Dutch culture. Additionally, each ‘big’ article in the rest of the paper would be followed by a one-paragraph English summary.
Although there wasn’t a tonne of information, it was possible as a non-Dutch speaker to get a flavour of the news.
This (academic) year, the Cursor has changed: there are no more English summaries. However, if you flip the paper over, the back cover offers some headlines in English, and if you read from the back of the paper in, you get four pages of English articles. (The whole paper is 24 pages.)
I miss the summaries. There was no depth, of course, but at least it gave me an idea of what topics were being debated at the TU/e.
(Actually, my Dutch is finally at the stage that I can at least partially figure out what the articles concern. For people with no Dutch, however, these articles are now a mystery.)
Well, okay. Dutch is the main language here, and I wouldn’t dream of suggesting the Cursor should be anything else but mostly in Dutch… but what about the non-Dutch speakers?
As an expat, I’ve been trying to learn the language. I think it’s important when living in a foreign country to do your best to integrate into that country, and speaking the lingo is undoubtedly a part of that!
However: the TU/e is a university with an international reputation, that teaches some courses in English only, that hosts a large expat population. Providing internal news in Dutch only risks excluding that population. (Of course, it’s important to avoid excluding immigrants while encouraging them to learn Dutch.)
Here’s what prompted me writing this, though:
On the left, we have the Dutch front cover. The main headline (‘Harde knip’) is about cuts that (as I understand it from attempting to decipher the article!) mean students may no longer begin a masters course until they’ve finished their bachelors.The other headlines concern reliability in science, some TU/e research concerning bedsores, and an interview with a professor.
On the right is the English front cover. The headlines concern reliability in science; an extract from an interview; and — this the main headline — bedsores.
I don’t know about you, but I was most grabbed by the item on cuts to student funding.
Sucks to be me — I’m struggling to follow the debate!
Similarly, I know some of the issues towards the end of last year included a lot of coverage of a debate about whether English or Dutch should be the primary language at the TU/e. I’m a nosy bugger, me, especially when it comes to issues that so strongly concern me.
Like I say, this is clearly a complex issue, and for my own part I really want to become fluent in Dutch (ik ben aan het proberen!) — so I hope this doesn’t come across as Wanting To Impose English On The Community. At the same time, though, if the Cursor is going to provide a few pages of English material, why oh why can’t those pages concern the current debates and issues within the university, the topics (being covered in Dutch) that affect the community? I’m happy to read about local research, but I really want to know about what’s happening in my community.