Cursist aan het woord - Good neighbours

‘We learn together as good neighbours’

18 november 2020

STE Languages is like a mini universe. People come to us from all over the world and everyone has their own story to tell. Yet, they always have the same goal and that is to learn a foreign language! That of course creates a special bond, as Jenny Polishchuk (from Israel), Mohammed Shibli (from Palestine), Khaled Sawas (from Syria) and Saurabh Jaiswal from (India) all know.

They all have their own story and their own reason for coming to the Netherlands. Jenny Polishchuk (38) came to Eindhoven with her husband and children. He has a job at Philips, she has a background in law. They have been here for at least five years and that was a good reason to decide on language training. Jenny: "It's important to learn the language if you live in the Netherlands. Mohammed Shibli (40) moved for love, as he has a Dutch wife and can call on his experience as a sales manager at a bank that he worked for in Dubai. Khaled Sawas (26) studied technical management in Aleppo. He lived in Turkey for six years before coming to the Netherlands to make a living here. Finally, Saurabh Jaiswal (27) is studying Logistics & International Trade. He has been in Eindhoven for three months and hopes to complete his studies in the spring of 2021.

"Better interaction in the classroom"

All students found their way to STE for the same reason: to learn Dutch. Their individual journeys, however, have all been different. ‘’First I did some online training, that was cheaper but the quality was not good," says Jenny. Mohammed agrees: "Forget online, go for face to face training. The interaction is better in the classroom, especially if you have a family, you need to be able to focus and being at home may make this difficult, being physically present helps". Khaled also consciously chose STE: "In Turkey I learned the language without any tuition. It took me three years to start speaking and five years to speak as one of the natives. I want to learn Dutch much quicker and better. That's important, as you won’t have the same opportunities if you don't speak the language."

"Our teacher knows what we need"

All four students form an enthusiastic and motivated group at STE. They are all driven to learn the language and although they have only been studying for a month, they are already seeing the first results. Mohammed: "STE is a great school for beginners. Our teacher tells us how to use the language in daily life. It's not as difficult as I feared but you really need to practice. "We use common situations, like being at the doctors, supermarket or pharmacy. Our teacher knows what we need to learn in order to find our way in these situations, " said Jenny.

"You need some courage"

Learning a language is also a matter of just ‘doing’. That message has clearly got through. Khaled: "I force myself to speak Dutch. People usually think I don't speak the language, so they are shocked when I do. It’s just short chats with people but it's a start. You need some courage to do that, so don't be shy. "Saurabh endorses that message:" Speak Dutch when you can… and do your homework! "

"My very distant neighbour"

A main characteristic of a group training course is the group process, which allows students to learn together and stimulate each other. This type of dynamic works well, the atmosphere is pleasant and there is also mutual contact via WhatsApp outside of class. Cultural backgrounds do not play a role in this. Jenny: "A Palestinian, an Israeli, a Syrian and an Indian all work together in class, it almost sounds like the beginning of a good joke but we do have a lot of fun. We are in the same situation. We are all together here with a common goal." Khaled adds, “It’s not about being from different countries. We are all human, that's it. No political issues, just friends. We are learning together as good neighbours." ‘’Exactly," says Saurabh, pointing to Khaled:" He is my very distant neighbour."

"A new book"

When you are new somewhere, you see things from a different perspective than if you have lived there all your life. How do our students view their surroundings? Which location appeals to them the most? For Saurabh that is his hometown, Wintelre: "A very beautiful town. It's a quiet place and I like that. You can leave any stress behind you. There's only one bar but I like to go there! The people are very friendly. "Khaled also feels it is his place of residence: "It's great to live in Valkenswaard. They take care of everything there and there are a lot of woods to go for walks in’’. For Jenny it is impossible to name one location: "A new town is a completely new book. Every weekend we explore a castle or a forest. We are constantly discovering new things and that can be something as simple as seeing a rabbit behind a tree. We enjoy every discovery."

"Small country, big life"

Dutch life is also well received by students of all nationalities. Jenny: "Back home people are not really relaxed, except when they are together with family. In Holland people live without stress. They always say hello with a smile. I really like the schools for children, the teachers are almost like friends and you have a totally different connection with them. That's very nice to see. "Khaled mentions three things he likes about the Netherlands: "Respect between the people, freedom of choice and friendly people. People greet you with a smile. That makes your day start well. "Saurabh experiences the same thing: "People are very generous and helpful, despite your nationality and race. Holland is a small country but it definitely gives you a big life. "


Every language has its own peculiarities. What is very normal for the Dutch can be seen as unique, typical or funny for an international. Which particular Dutch words stand out for students? Jenny chooses the word "please". ‘’It’s such a funny word that I wasn't familiar with". The gentlemen both pick a word used to say farewell. Saurabh chooses "bye" and Mohammed the original composition "bye-bye". Finally, Khaled goes for Brabant’s version of bye "houoe!" Definitely a fitting ending for a very pleasant chat!