Monday, January 24, 2005

Meeting Kee

Today was my first step in the "Inburgering Onderzoek" process. That means, of course, Integration Investigation or Research. The Dutch government forces all "newcomers" to go through this integration process, but thankfully they do a little testing to see where we should begin.

I did not intentionally begin the interview with Kee [pronounced Kay] in Dutch, but she said, "Spreekt u Nederlands?" and I answered the obligatory, "Een beetje." Then we kept with the Dutch for the entire interview. Kee is a woman in her mid-forties, or thereabouts, who is one of those very skinny women who smile constantly, but look like they would snap your neck of you crossed them. Texas is filled with them. My father's second wife was one.

Kee spoke slowly and pretty carefully. She seemed to be somewhat familiar with my file. Moniek had written that I did a lot of volunteer work and Kee asked me how much and wrote it so that I might be able to continue doing it and I could take evening courses. I have probably written this already, but the idea is that a person have a "real" job if he is to get into the evening courses. Nice save, Kee! She was sufficiently impressed with my efforts at volunteer work. I recommend volunteer work as a course of action to anyone wanting to integrate and learn a language.

Kee asked lots of questions. I gave lots of answers. Having her on my side was a huge plus. Smile, that's what Dale Carnegie says. It's like point five on his list of how to "Win Friends and Influence People." So Kee said that my next step is to take the NT2 to see what level I am at. I think the NT2 means like "Nederlands Taal 2" or "Dutch Language 2." There's a huge misunderstanding about it. Like NT1 is not the test you take before NT2. It's a different level of knowledge of the language. And then someone told me that NT2 is not just a test. It refers to the whole course. But I know several people who say they are going to "take the NT2" so they can put it on their resume. I don't know. What I know is that I'm taking the test on February 2 to see what level course I need to take. After the test, I'm going to speak with Kee again.

This is an interesting process. It's horrible and frightening and hear other people talk about it. But the actual process is not that bad. And the people I've dealt with, from the stringy haired girl at the foreign police to Moniek to Kee, are very nice people.

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