It’s a ‘cozy chaos’ on Friday morning during the Dutch lesson for educational couple Judith Klein (71) and Wim Prins (73). The two Alkmaarders have signed up via Team Voluntary to teach asylum seekers Dutch for five weeks in the temporary emergency reception center in Sportpaleis. Judith thinks it’s “fantastic fun to make, even if it’s a bit of a mess.”
When Judith sees the news that around 150 asylum seekers will be received on the cycle track in the coming weeks, she immediately wants to mean something to them. She has a background as a teacher and has, among other things, taught in Osdorp in Amsterdam, where she came into contact with young children who barely knew Dutch at home.
“It is difficult to communicate with them, but at the same time it is so important to be able to hold a conversation with the people around you,” she says. She gives her first language lesson in a children’s shelter, so it brings back many memories. “What is an additional challenge is that in the past I always had children who spoke Dutch,” says Judith. “Now you start from scratch.”
Differences with regular education
The way the lesson proceeds is also different. “Not all the children were there when classes started, they trickled in one by one. It’s different at a regular school, of course,” she says with a laugh. “But I really enjoyed doing it, even if it’s a bit of a mess.”
After the lesson for the children, where they learn to introduce themselves, learn some words related to the human body and make drawings of a doll on which they write their own name, it is the turn of the adults. A group of men from Pakistan and Syria are ready and motivated to learn.
The problem is that the level difference is large. Some do not know the Latin script, while others speak English well. Judith asks them one by one in Dutch what they want to learn. “Everything,” someone replies enthusiastically.
But of course it can’t be done: “It’s a shame that everyone has to go somewhere else in four weeks, then you can’t really build anything,” says Judith. Still, she’s glad she can add something: “Besides teaching them Dutch, it also breaks up their day a bit.”
“It’s a shame that everyone has to go somewhere else in four weeks”
Life on pause
And that is important, declares Annerieke Dekker from the North Holland North Safety Region. “Until the moment asylum seekers get their residence permit, their lives are on hold. We are therefore very happy for any volunteer. who can do anythingto add During this period.”
This can be done, as Judith and Wim do, by teaching Dutch, but also in other ways. “We are still looking for people who want to organize a successful activity”, says Annerieke. “Think, for example, drawing or painting with the children, a sports class or something with music.”
Distraction very valuable
At the beginning, the Alkmaar Volunteer Team was also looking for hosts and hostesses, but people who organize activities with heads and tails are currently most in need: “Here the asylum seekers sit all day and wait for what is to come. It is incredibly valuable to be in able to distract.”
She is aware that people sometimes criticize it. “Some point out that the situation for the Dutch needs to improve first, and it is clear that there are many crises. Housing shortages, groceries and petrol are becoming more and more expensive… but that does not change the fact that these people also need a safe place and we want to give them the best possible time in the shelter Noord-Holland Noord.”
Wim adds: “When I see these little guys walking around, I think: that’s how I experienced it in class. They are and will remain children, wherever they come from. We must do our best for that.”
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