Don’t expect any advice on how to keep up your Dutch today! Even though they both speak Dutch very well, English is the go to language for mother Avril and daughter Yolande, the faces behind the Direct Dutch reception. They are the first person every student at Direct Dutch gets into contact with. They answer everyone’s questions, solve every problem and make sure there’s fresh coffee every day. How are they doing, now that all courses continue online, and there are no students around to look after? Time to find out!
It must be really quiet at Direct Dutch, now that all classes are online. What have the two of you been up to, in the past few weeks?
”We are really missing the buzz around the office and chatting to the students. Now that everything is online we are getting a lot more emails and telephone calls with questions, this keeps us very busy.”
Direct Dutch Institute is a family business. The two of you have been working together for a while now. What’s your secret to making this into a success?
”In many ways we are very much alike so we get on very well together, we complement each other. We both have our roles to play and have great respect for one another. We have a good division between work and personal life, although (Yolande speaking here) it was very difficult calling her Avril when I first started working at Direct Dutch. The same applies for Ruud (my dad)!”
What’s the one thing you really admire about each other?
Avril: ”I am very proud of Yolande and have great respect for her. The way she calmly approached the switch to online courses was amazing. She worked 24/7 researching the best systems, making detailed tutorials for the teachers and on call, should they have any questions. Without Yolande we would have been very stressed as my knowledge of computers is very poor.”
Yolande: ”Avril is an incredibly strong person. She is a literal ‘Jack of all trades’. Without her, the entire office would fall apart. She singlehandedly created the back office back in 1985. She is structured, organized and most importantly very social (and funny!). I have learnt (and keep on learning!) a lot from her.”
Avril, you have been working at the reception since 1985. Things must have changed a lot since then. What was working in the office like in the early days?
”Wow, a lot has changed since 1985. I will always remember that I was the proud owner of an electric golf ball typewriter, which was amazing.”
Yolande, you helped all the teachers to set up the online classes. How was this experience, and how are things going so far?
”When you’re asked to put together an entirely new system it can be pretty daunting, so I am happy my adrenaline kicked in. I also got help from Pieter, our IT/teacher. It also helps that all of our teachers and staff are amazingly patient and easy going. I have great respect for them and everyone just pulled together as a team. Even Joke, who wanted to have a bit more free time hopped back in to teaching to help us out.”
Lastly, can you both – as representatives of two generations – give some advice for people who are struggling during this crisis?
Avril: ”I am sure a lot of people are struggling at the moment. My advice would be to try and enjoy every day with the knowledge that we are one step closer to the end of this crisis. In the meantime, if you are not working, make a list of “things to do” around your home.”
Yolande: ”Now that work and personal life are almost on the point of merging into each other, I think it’s a good time to realise that hobbies are the best go to place for some time off. There are so many platforms out there where you can learn a new hobby, it’s eye-opening to say the least! Pick up a new skill like drawing or crafting, they can be amazingly useful to have.”