Woensdag, wij leren Nederlands!

18 Nov

“Wednesday, we learn the Dutch language!” (Nederland is the country, Nederlands is the taal, or language, as I’ve just learned.)

So the 5 Dutch Days in New York has begun, conversational-immersion style. Last night I went to a class at Columbia Unversity’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, on Amsterdam Avenue.…and the department’s site, by the way, has an interesting list of links to Dutch-related Web sites. Twenty or so people attended. The animated conversations at the little wine and cheese reception afterward seemed a testament to how well the class went.

It was a class “for absolute beginners.” But Wijnie de Groot, the department’s lecturer in Dutch, quickly had us speaking entire (simple!) sentences in a question-and-response repetition person by person, around the room. On the one hand, it’s a sort of no-mercy approach — little to no respite into English; on the other hand, Wijnie’s warm and encouraging style made it okay to stumble through, feel lost, and then regain the flow.

That flow part made me think of dream work, in a way. Dreams give us a translation challenge. Often they speak a language of metaphor that seems strange to us, and we try to translate their meaning into our waking-world way of seeing things. In the class, I usually got the most lost when I tensed up about being lost, trying too intellectually to make sense of what was being said. The intellectual part was necessary but not sufficient. I noticed that there was a way to drop my center of listening from my head down into my chest area (yes, my heart) that seemed to help…something about the feeling of being attracted to what was going on and wanting to just enjoy it.

It may be too simplistic to call it thinking vs. feeling, but the physical sensation for me was, literally, head vs. heart (or better, head and heart). I’ve experienced the same thing in dream work. Some of my most useful “associations” to the manifest content of a dream occur when I step back from the ideas whirling around in my head and let arise into my attention some deeper sensation of what it’s about; yet the ideas usually serve as an important prelude to that.  Quite often, intellectually I’ve experienced reluctance to acknowledge a deeper sensation because it seems freaky — particularly in a dream group setting, where, for example, it might seem too specific to me to possibly be of use to the person who’s told a dream. But once I get past that, pay attention, and voice the idea, as often as not the dreamer indicates my weird association is right on target — and that seems even freakier. 🙂

(When working a dream in a group, thinking and feeling both get double duty, because along with the value in understanding the dream, they both are needed in recalling the guidelines for respecting boundaries and then sensing when the dreamer is signaling a real-time boundary to be respected.)

I was thinking about all this this morning as I ate breakfast, and thinking about what to say about the class and Wijnie de Groot, when I absent-mindedly turned my head and looked at a book that has sat on my bookshelf for so many years (without my ever actually opening it!) that I’m oblivious to it. Sometimes I fleetingly notice the title, A History of Western Music, and briefly debate whether to give the book away or continue to keep it (like my hundreds of other unread books) on the off chance it will come in useful some day. This morning, I noticed something else — the author’s name: Donald Jay Grout. Whaaah? I Googled, just to be sure, and yes, Grout is a Dutch name, a variation on Groot. So add another tiny synchronicity to the rapidly growing list here on the blog.


3 Responses to “Woensdag, wij leren Nederlands!”


  1. “Der Traum” | - September 17, 2014

    […] great one-night Dutch-language immersion class free during 5 Dutch Days in 2012; see my post “Woensdag, wij leren Nederlands!“). I expected to find the staid-looking Columbia seal that I believe was there last time I […]

  2. Getting into a Nieuw Amsterdam state of mind « - February 7, 2011

    […] addition to regular courses, there are Dutch conversation hours. I enjoyed an introductory class during 5 Dutch Days 5 Boroughs in […]

  3. Groan « - November 20, 2010

    […] there’s also a better synchronicity, to my post yesterday about the Dutch language class at Columbia University. The name Groot and the spelling variation Grout constituted a synchroncity I mentioned in that […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: