140 – Arnheimmer Anwar Manlasadoon on 4 in The Colorful Top 100
Anwar Manlasadoon, columnist of the Gelderlander, is number four in the Colorful Top 100. The ranking is an annual ranking of Dutch people who contribute to a more inclusive society with their work, personality and vision. The Syrian Anwar started his column “Anwar citizens in” with the Gelderlander three years ago, when he was still living in a refugee center in Arnhem. He is now studying at the Arnhem and Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences and keeps Gelders readers informed about his integration. ,, Anwar thunders with special perspectives over the prejudices of a skeptical society because he is new here. He shares his passionate view of society in his columns, which are really worth reading, ”writes the jury. ,, Anwar is in this Top 100, with him the average acidity of columnists has fallen. And his fresh look is a lot more pleasant to read.” Anwar calls the quotation “the proof that we are stronger together”: “I am happy with the Gelderlander, because together we make this column. It is important to remember that I am not the only one doing its best in the Netherlands, there are thousands. Together with Dutch people, we can make something beautiful out of it.”
The number one in the ranking will be announced on 28 February.
139 – “Special education” sounds pretty nice, but Google makes it a “school for sick children”
“How can I make sure parents don’t get angry if I say their child can’t learn well?” A teacher asked me. He teaches in a link class, where children from a different culture temporarily bridge until they can go to a Dutch school. He sends some pupils to special education, because they are intellectually limited. ,, Parents are angry at school and are also angry with their children. They think they should do their best better.”
Well, that sense of honor remains important for many parents. In addition, the Dutch are direct. You will be told if you are not well or if you have to study “lower”. That is offensive in many cultures, people speak differently there. For example: ,, Your son’s talents are best shown at the carpenter training. He is very talented when it comes to precision chores and woodworking. ”What the student is not good at is not mentioned. Parents proudly go home: boy, their child is such a gifted woodworker. “Special education” also sounds pretty good in Dutch. Still, Google Translate makes a mess of it. A Syrian acquaintance received a statement stating that his son must go to special education. The man made the statement through Google Translate, and read in the literal Arabic translation that his child is sick and therefore has to go to a school for sick children. Painful. I understand that Dutch people like clarity, but it also seems much nicer for Dutch children to just hear what they are good at.
138 – Public buildings
If you see a beautiful building in the Netherlands, you can enter it very often. In fact, it might even have been built especially for you. I often study in the Arnhem library. It looks very nice from the outside and inside. Long wooden stairs, a slide from the third to the second floor and everywhere there is art. Parents are reading while their children play or read booklets. Homeless people have a warm place there and rest in the armchairs and students prepare their exams. When I was still learning full-time Dutch, I was often in the library at the language café. Volunteers teach newcomers there. When I had already reached some level, I wanted to help newcomers myself.
I tried to explain to a boy from Eritrea what the word “bakery” means. He just didn’t know what the word for bread was in Dutch, so the boy and I became a kind of Buurman and Buurman duo. I tried to explain words in all sorts of ways, while I still don’t speak Dutch well. There is no such public building in Syria where everyone comes together. Very beautiful buildings are not for civilians, but for defense or a ministry. In the summer everybody comes together in the park, but that is not really a study place. Everyone is in during the winter, but studying with the constantly falling electricity is quite difficult there. The library is what the mosque and church in Syria are in the Netherlands. It is the destination and refuge for all inquisitive people. Only in a library not just answers are given, but you can discover them yourself.
137 – My diploma is just like a bonus card
Most Dutch people I speak do work differently than what they were trained for. Because they could not find work with their diploma or because they encountered something else. It makes me restless. Because when I decided two years ago to study Industrial Product Design at the HAN in Arnhem, I thought I knew where I stood. “The point is that you will soon have a college degree,” my friend Gijs said. “You will be able to work with it anywhere. Because it shows that you can think broadly and are smart.” My education costs me a lot of money. My parents are not here and I myself came to the Netherlands empty-handed, so I borrowed my studies together. When I am finished, I will have to pay back 40,000 euros of study debt, apparently only to show that I am smart. My diploma is then a kind of bonus card. In the case of a vacancy where an unskilled person may need five years of work experience, I can keep my diploma. “Blieb,” and then I get a five-year discount. Because I have a college degree.
I think it’s a pity. I would prefer not to study a bonus card together, but just be sure that I will get work in what I have been trained for. I didn’t choose this course for nothing. During our studies we often have to make an analysis. As students, we find product analysis very boring. Then we start designing, which is really nice. Gijs said: ,, That is how you should see it with work. Your complete education is the analysis, the boring period. Then comes the design phase, when you start working. You can go to all kinds of places with your HBO diploma and then it will really be fun”! I hope so.
136 – The Dutch talk via the computer or via their telephone
I think I would enjoy it very well in a retirement home in the Netherlands. Men and women who are not digital, but only used to talking in real life. In Syria the world is not yet digital, so three years ago I arrived at the digital knowledge level of a 90-year-old Dutch man in the Netherlands. I have learned a lot over the past three years and in that sense I have been reasonably adapted. For example, I have an e-mail address, which I now regularly look into. That must be the case, otherwise people and organizations will get angry. I see benefits, but as far as I am concerned, digitization in the Netherlands has gone wrong. When I come to a teacher with a question, I get the answer: “Put your question on the mail.” “I do not understand that. We are already facing each other? And a teacher is there anyway to explain? When I joined a lawyer last week with a question about my residence permit, I received an answer: “I do not understand your question so well now so just put it on the mail.” “So it is even more difficult for me to express me understandably. Calling, that is apparently also old-fashioned for years. People I ask if I can call them, answer: “No.” “They only want to talk via the mail or app. Calling, they find that such a hassle. I understand better and better why people in the Netherlands are so quiet when they are on the bus for example. Talking to other people is rare. The Dutch talk via the computer or via their telephone, so live contact becomes increasingly difficult. I think I just register with a retirement home in the neighborhood. Then I write a note on my date of birth that I am mentally about sixty years old.
135 – A teacher running past in bright yellow and purple sports clothes: “That is not possible!”
I walked around Arnhem with a group of friends when I suddenly saw a teacher running past us. He was wearing sports clothes with bright yellow and purple colors. It was also so tight that you could draw out his body shapes precisely. I burst out laughing and said to my friends: “Then watch our teacher. That is not possible! “My classmates understood little of it. ,,How so ? He is just a human being. One who wants to run for a minute. “I thought it was a nice reaction. Indeed, a teacher is simply a function. And that function apparently leaves a teacher in the Netherlands behind at school, only to be himself again. Like the teacher I met at a party in the city. She danced in glitter clothes and with a drink in her hand. She felt very comfortable, I no longer at the sight of her. A teacher in the neighborhood still feels like control, as if I have to keep me tidy. A teacher has a great deal of prestige in Syria. That includes respectable behavior, everywhere. As inspiration for the students and symbol of the university. You can still love dancing or running, but that can not be combined with a position as a teacher. In the Netherlands, the identity of a teacher and a private individual is so strictly separated that you can sometimes see it literally. I was in the parking lot of the HAN when I saw a tough motorcyclist arrive. I watched curiously which rugged student would appear under the helmet. “Hi Anwar,” said my mechanic teacher when the helmet went off. I was shocked. He put down his motorbike, took off his suit and walked in as a neat teacher.
134 – ‘I would like to start again in the Netherlands, without flags’
In the Netherlands a flag is a beautiful symbol. The tricolor is used when it is party, when we ask for respect or when we are proud. I do not like flags anymore since the war in Syria. Syria has three. One that belongs to President Assad, one for the Kurds and one for the rebels. The ‘Assadvlag’ is actually just the national Syrian flag, but because he has long been the boss in the country, it is now associated with him. I shared a reminder on Facebook from my first year at the university in Aleppo. You see me with a few friends, smiling at the camera. Behind us you can see the national flag of Syria. The rumor stream starts immediately after such a photo. “See, he belongs to Assad!” I had not thought about it for a moment. Countrymen still know that this flag hangs everywhere in public Syrian buildings? Syrians in the Netherlands share each other in a box. We want to know from each other on which side we were when we were there. ,, Are you going to demonstrate against the war in Syria? ”, Acquaintances asked me. I asked only one question: “Is there a flag?” “Photos of them continue to roam. And then I sit there, in the ‘rebel’, ‘Kurd’, or ‘Assad-trailer’ box. We all have pain from the war. We blame each other for the loss of our loved ones. When I am photographed with an ‘Assadvlag’, it touches people who have lost a relative through the army of the president. If I start demonstrating with a rebel or Kurdish flag, it will hurt victims of rebels and Kurds. I would like to start again in the Netherlands, without flags, and with a joint pain that is simply called ‘war’.
133 – Music without words is a language that everyone speaks
A large orchestra with a conductor who plays music from Beethoven, I only knew that from YouTube. I saw it for the first time live, when I attended a concert of Het Gelders Orkest last month. The conductor made it a spectacle. He hastened to the stage with flapping hair, as if he were too late for a lesson. He turned to the audience and made a quick bow. As if there was no time to waste, he set the orchestra to work, with wild gestures and hair that flew in all directions. The orchestra members did not watch the conductor. I’ve paid attention to their eyes. Later when I spoke to the musicians, I asked them: “Just be honest, you do not need that conductor anyway? Nobody looks at him! “The musicians laughed. ,, He is the boss of the orchestra. He determines the tempo and the music sounds the way he wants it, “they said. In Syria, music is more of a hobby than a job. If you want to follow a study, you do not have to rely on enthusiasm from your environment. If I were to say, “Daddy, I’m going to the conservatory,” he would answer, “What? Everyone can sing, Anwar, you can hear: lalala. You do not have to go to school there. “Although I do not want to neglect the singing skills of my father, I saw that the musicians of Het Gelders Orkest have learned a bit more about their education. And how nice that it was an evening with only music. No speeches. In Damascus we have ‘The Opera’, but it is often combined with a political meeting. Music without words. I love it because it is not politics. It is a language that everyone speaks.
132 – Ugly Duckling
Around the turn of the year, people often look backwards and forwards. I do not do the latter. I am not a planner, I often do not even know what I will do the next day, let alone the coming year. Looking back gives me a great feeling this year, because I have reached many milestones. I passed the state exam at level B2 this year, I finished my HBO propaedeutic phase at one point, I found a job in a supermarket and I became the replacement branch manager within three months. It all says nothing about how I felt throughout the year, but it is still nice to take steps in my Dutch life. The strange thing is that those steps feel very uncertain. As if I were building my future on a piece of dough that wobbles in all directions. That dough is my residence permit. In two years I can apply for a Dutch nationality. My residence permit feels like the ugly duckling under your beautiful red passports. At school, in the train, at the bank or the municipality, wherever I have to take the pass, people raise their eyebrows. It has a different color. People who I show the tone face a difficult face, until they see: ‘Temporary residence permit’. That moment is always annoying. I’m afraid the other person reads and thinks: oh a refugee. So be careful. What does not help is that on Facebook messages circulate among Syrians with the news that we eventually have to leave the Netherlands. I can not figure out if they are real messages, but I get nervous about them. I am building something here, and I can only hope that I can keep my building.
131 – Dutch and congratulations? ‘I do not get it’
Get well soon! Happy Birthday! Happy New Year! Merry Christmas! The Netherlands has a standard wish for every event. Arabic has a lot of words. You always have to say something different. Especially if you wish someone something. Then it must be personal and poetic. When my mother is ill, I come up with a story. “A bird flies high from the sky, lands on your shoulders, sings a song for you, and wishes all bad things to stay far away from your heart.” This story has to rhyme and be thought up especially for her. You may not arrive with a standard verse.
If you wish someone a good New Year, the story must be focused on his or her life. You can not wish the same every year, because every year is different. You have to take into account the bond you have and quote examples of nice or emotional things that you have experienced together. With astonishment, I see on Facebook that sick Dutch people get typed a hundred times ‘get well’ in their timeline. The crazy thing is, the sick person also feels strengthened. “Thank you for your kind comments!”, You read. Just like olds, who after a hundred messages with only the text ‘congratulations’ feel ‘a huge anniversary of all your messages’. I do not understand it, but my Dutch friend Gijs came up with a logical explanation. “Anwar, you know how Dutch people are,” he said. ,, We love rules and structure. It’s nice to know what you have to say at what time. And it is also easy, with few words ready quickly! “Oh well, he’s right. And I do not know many Dutch words at all.