International students go back to school

ESN is taking its international students to school. Elementary school, to be precise.

Four international students warm their hands on a fresh cup of coffee and quickly try to dry their clothes on the radiator in the staff room. Riding their bikes to De Tamarisk primary school, they got caught up in a nice little Dutch autumn shower. When they’ve warmed up, they start blowing up the balloons they need for one of the games they’re going to play with the children. In the meantime, Lourens is trying to contact his other ESN Board members to find out where they are.

‘It is the second time we’ve done this’, ESN President Mike explains. ‘The students love to teach the children something about their culture and country, and the kids have a great time as well.’

‘Curious to see what the Dutch look like when they are not yet the giants you see walking down the street every day?’, the ESN website asks. The children might not yet be giants, but Spanish student Natalia is still impressed by the size of the third and fourth years. ‘Are these really seven-year-olds? I thought they were about 11. Spanish children are much smaller!’

Fun and games

Together with Nhung from Vietnam and Lourens the translator, she is going to teach the kids a typical Spanish game. In the other classroom Annika from Finland and the Slovakian Viktoria are doing the same with their group, but it’s not easy. ‘They are so lively’, exclaims a laughing Annika after all the kids have dropped onto the floor and started crawling all over the place. ‘This isn’t how the game works!’ Marciano (6) had fun anyway, ‘even though I didn’t win the balloon race!’

After the games the students move to a classroom where two older classes are waiting. Soon they are joined by another group of students. The eight, exclusively female, students have prepared a presentation. First up is Nhung, who also tries to involve the children by asking them questions. The bright girl who was able to point out Vietnam on the world map gets a little bar of chocolate. Instant undivided attention is achieved. ‘Participation is rewarded’, the laughing teacher tells her pupils.

Luis Suarez

Florencia, from Uruguay, is next in line. She wonders if the children know anything about the Uruguayan soccer team. You can rely on Dutch boys to know their soccer players, so not a single player escapes their attention, not from Uruguay, not from anywhere. Of course, there is a special mention for Luis Suarez, who also played for FC Groningen.

Fortunately for the kids, she brought along a typical Uruguayan treat called Tortas Fritas, fried cakes, for everyone. After her, Susana and Ampara, both Spanish, finish the day with an introduction to Malaga and Valencia. They also brought a treat, but only half the class are able to taste the little Serrano ham tapas Susana has prepared, since Muslims can’t eat pork. They are free to go home. Anniek (10) stays and waits for the plate to reach her. ‘It was a really nice day’, she says, enthusiastically. ‘Also, the cookies were good!’