26 EUR international staff members and their partners received their diploma for the Dutch Staatsexamen or Civic Integration Exam, at a celebration in de Etage on Thursday the 14th of June.

The staff members completed their Dutch courses in a year and learned the language, as well as Dutch culture and customs. In a weekly Dutch café, they put their knowledge into practice and discussed daily matters, as well as ‘weird’ Dutch habits. Marjon Menten, head of the EUR Language and Training Centre, opens the ceremony with a small speech: “I’m glad you’re all here. I’m talking in Dutch, because you understand that now.”

Nine babies in one year

Menten gives the stage to Ellis Delken from Delken & Boot, the company that organizes the courses and exams, and provides teachers for the programme. As Delken proudly hands out the diplomas, she explains that even though these students are highly educated, they are in many ways like any other class: people drop out or leave, due to illness, a lot of travelling, and fertility. Delken, laughing: “In the course of one year, nine babies have been born among both teachers and students. We even did Skype sessions with a pregnant employee, who participated in class from behind her laptop at home.”

Several employees brought their children to the ceremony.


A small group of employees has gathered for the ceremony, that was followed by a theatre show especially made for people who just learned to speak Dutch. One of the employees present at the ceremony is Karolina Brodin, a young Swedish freelance coach, who works at RSM. Both she and her Italian husband received a diploma: Brodin passed for Staatsexamen level two,  her husband successfully completed the Civic Integration Exam. She is very happy to have passed, as her three children go to a Dutch school, and communicating with Dutch children used to be difficult.

A classroom of colleagues

Menten explains that following a Dutch course is now more attractive for EUR staff members, as they follow courses with other staff members only.  In the past, they were put in normal classrooms with people from a wide variety of different educational backgrounds, which made these courses tedious and frustrating for academia.  Azadeh Firouzian, a PhD candidate from Iran, also obtained Staatsexamen level two, which is the highest course that EUR Language and Training Centre offers. Firouzian especially likes communicating with colleagues in the classes, and really enjoyed learning Dutch. She points towards the benefits of being in a class with the same level of education: “With colleagues you learn a lot more, not only the language, but also people’s ideas about a wide variety of topics.”

More than just ‘social Dutch’

The EUR Language and Training Centre has been acknowledged as an official Dutch language courses provider, and the municipality of Rotterdam financed the courses for staff members. This caused the popularity of Dutch classes for EUR staff to soar, with 78 employees and their partners signing up for the programme. The first group of employees has now passed their exams, and in the coming months, many more will finalize their Dutch courses. Menten: “We didn’t expect that many people to join, as EUR staff members are already very busy with their academic careers. ” Delken thinks the motivation of EUR staff members often surpasses the level of a little ‘social Dutch’: “Employees who have passed the Staatsexamen often have important reasons to be able to speak the language: their children might be in a Dutch school, they have to read Dutch reports, or they have to communicate with students or patients in Dutch.” Even though the programme has been a success so far, the municipality has limited the budget for integration in 2012, and will not fund language or integration courses from 2013 onwards. IS