Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anouk’s graduation

Yesterday we were privileged to be invited to attend Anouk’s graduation ceremony, where she received her Master of Science in Health Care Psychology and the Dutch doctorandus. (Anouk is one of “our Dutch girls,” young women from The Netherlands who rented our guest room in San Francisco while they studied at San Francisco State.) She was the first to receive this degree as the program was only instituted last fall.

The ceremony here is entirely different from that in the U.S. It is both more casual and more personal. Family and a few friends gather with the graduate and two officials from the university. One official does all of the talking, and the other just signs the diploma when it’s passed to him. (The talking official signs too.) When all of the official paperwork and presentation is done, the graduate can ask a professor or adviser who actually knows her to give a short speech. Anouk invited the man who supervised her internship to do the honors. Then it’s over. Everyone leaves to make room for the next group, and there is much kissing and congratulations all around in the hallway. Finally, off to the party at Anouk’s parents’ house. We think this is an excellent way to do things.

Now all of this was in Dutch, but I’ve been practicing and could catch most of what talking official man said and some of what the adviser said. Talking official man startled Anouk and everyone else by explaining that the ceremony is called something with the word “exam” in it, so he felt he should give her an exam. Of course, he was mostly kidding, but he did persist until Anouk answered the two questions: what is your greatest strength and what is your greatest weakness. Sweet and shy Anouk was quick to name “talking in front of people” as her weakness. With coaxing it emerged that she really likes research and analysis. In fact, we know that she’s re-writing her thesis for publication in a journal, so she must be quite good at that.

Anouk’s adviser seemed like a very nice man, and he was clearly quite fond of her, as we all are. He said how much he admired her perseverance in meeting the challenges she faced and that he was honored to know her. Her work was in forensic psychology, and she had to interview some criminals with mental problems. (I’m not sure if you would translate this as criminally insane or not. Maybe someone who knows will confirm or correct in a comment. I know some of the family read the blog.) He also said something about her plan to move to Australia permanently, but Anouk assured us later that she wasn’t planning that anymore.

Anouk's graduationIn this photo: Anouk’s advisor (sitting), Anouk, talking official man, and silent official man (sitting)


The party at the van Gerwen’s was very nice. We met more aunts and uncles, including uncle Hans, who gave us a ride. Everyone toasted Anouk with bubbly, and we had yummy deviled eggs, salmon hors d’oeuvres, and cake. Ria had more food for later, of course, but we needed to get home to feed Märzen, so we left a little early.

The van Gerwen familyIn this photo: Jan, Anouk, and Ria van Gerwen

1 comment:

MaryAnne said...

Tried to post a comment yesterday; didn't work. Diagnosis for a criminal may be any that would be used for anyone else. That more specific to criminals would be anti-social personality disorder. Insane isn't used by medical or legal professionals. Mom