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The black servant of the holy man

The black servant of the holy man

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie

Ik praat een beetje Nederlands. I did a course. I can understand it, I can read Dutch documents and I’m able to speak it on a conversational level.” Isabel Skierka, a second-year student of European Studies from Hamburg, thinks that at least a little knowledge of Dutch is necessary to integrate into Dutch culture. “I want to integrate into the culture I live in. Language is part of culture.”

Do you feel integrated in Maastricht and the Netherlands?

“At Maastricht University: yes. In student life: yes. I’m a member of the Faculty Council of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), I like to go to different places in town, like the Lumière cinema, and I have some Dutch friends. But student party NovUM thinks that the integration between students at our faculty could be better. We still have separate groups of Dutch and non-Dutch students. We try to promote integration through activities like the mentor programme and the mixed Inkom groups. It’s important to push it. We now have three student parties at FASoS: Dope, NovUM and Concordantia. There will be more competition during the coming elections; it will be a more exciting election campaign this year.”

Can people vote for you?

“No, I’m going to Paris next semester. I already spent one year in France. In Tours. I went to high school there. So I have this French connection. I travelled a lot in France with my parents. I think it’s fascinating that Germany and France were enemies during World War II, but a few years after the war they founded the European Union together with four other states. I’m really interested in Europe.”

What’s your favourite shop in Maastricht?

Without hesitation: “The bookstore De Tribune. It’s a small shop, but they have huge shelves, a lot of English literature, German poems.The people who work there are really interested in literature themselves. You can feel that. I like the atmosphere of De Tribune.”

The name of your dean?

She smiles; that’s an easy one for a member of the faculty council: “Rein de Wilde. We always have a constructive atmosphere with him.”

How do you get to know the latest news?

“My homepage is the online version of Die Zeit. I also read the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the Süddeutsche Zeitung online. I prefer hard copy though. I read what I can get for free, for example, in the library. Sometimes I buy one.”

What do you think is typically Dutch?

“Carnival. That’s funny. And Sinterklaas. I hadn’t expected a black man, a kind of slave to be the servant of the holy man.”

Have you met a Dutch student lately?

“Two hours ago, in class. I also meet people from other faculties. Because of NovUM, and because I attend interfaculty activities like lectures by Studium Generale and the Lumière.”


Riki Janssen



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