A Belgian Eye – Episode 125

Our resident Belgian, Philippe Persoons, takes a look at life through a Belgian Eye.

This week, and with the new academic year underway, Philippe has got an apprentice . . . . .

Hello and welcome on a Belgian Eye

The new academic year has started and for the first time since long this means something in my professional life. Yes of course it’s always the start of the new traffic jam season, but now there’s more. We will receive an intern at the service. An intern, a trainee, a student sent from the nearby school, who will get a feeling how it is to have a “real-job” at our service. Our service is just a small marketing service, as part of the bigger communications department of the company. We are 5, and I will be in charge of the guidance of the guy.

My trainee studies business support in an additional year of what we call vocational education. In our country our high schools are still divided in vocational, technical a general education. After a general education you’re supposed to go to university and end with a bunch of master degrees. A technical education can also lead to university and offering possibilities towards bachelor, or if you’re good enough master, but it’s also an education that might lead to a simple professional career. And last but not least, the vocational education is something towards a specific vocation: a job.

This system is under discussion for it causes a so called ‘waterfall effect’: parents are more likely to choose the general ASO education. And when the student fails they’ll change to technical TSO and then vocational BSO education. It also leads to a social segregation where parents who can’t afford their child to study for years will choose the shorter technical or even vocational education. For instance, my guy is supposed to be ready at the age of 19.

The school had sent us three candidates for being our trainee. I didn’t offer them an exam, but I did had to make a choice and I choose the one with the most commercial appearances. He spoke well, he knows English very well and he also knew something about our business.

On the first day he had to do some translation to English and he had to learn how to work with our mail merge system, which is not quite user-friendly. He did it all quite well, quite good and fast.

So, this is the guy who is supposed to be incapable of going to university, according to our school system?

Well yes, he’s probably the poor guy. Nice black flat hair, brown eyes and tanned skin … As you might guess, he’s not from here. Moroccan? Lebanese? A Syrian refugee perhaps? No he’s worst. He’s family was from Kurdistan, but they lived in Russia until they decided six years ago to flee to Europe. For Russia is corruption and not quite friendly to strangers. I don’t know it, but that’s what they felt and that’s why they searched for the greener grass in our country, as applicant for refugee status.

There’s no war in Russia so their application will probably be denied. What will that mean to him? His parents choose for this adventure, not he. But if they are all sent back Russia, then he will become the traitor too. Foreigner and traitor, quite nice to start your future.

It’s a guy who could be big in marketing or accountancy, but it’s the system that will tell what he’s future will be. Please don’t let police come picking him from school or from our office to be put on the plane back home, for he’s my trainee and I wish him all the best.

Ok and now back to business,
We Belgians, should we accept political refugees? Well perhaps, “Wir schaffen das”s, but not too many and don’t allow economic fortune seekers.
Then again, what was I just talking about?
Right, when something becomes human, some things become different

Have a nice day.