The International Welcome Center North, NHL Stenden, and Hanze University have joined forces to produce more English-language journalists and content creators in Northern Netherlands
By Adriana Dancu
The North of the Netherlands is becoming more and more international, intercultural. The provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe have thousands of incoming internationals every year, whether they are students, young professionals, or workers.
Even though the Netherlands is known for being a country with excellent English literacy, internationals often face difficulties regarding basic information, or dealing with official documents since they are not in English. Receiving official letters completely in Dutch, invoices in Dutch, or filing income tax returns in Dutch are some examples of the difficulties faced by internationals living in the North. The lack of content in English in the media and in organizations and institutions makes internationals feel excluded from the basic right to information. However, this issue is currently being addressed by The Northern Times, which not only produces English content for internationals, but it also translates news from Dutch to English, so that internationals are not deprived of information.
Luckily, however, there is work being done to remedy this situation. The International Welcome Center, NHL Stenden, and Hanzehogeschool decided to create the Media Content Bureau North (MCBN) in order to produce English content, and make the North even more inclusive for internationals.
Media Content Bureau North
The MCBN is a future organization, which takes the form of a student competition, with teams of students each partnering with a Northern media organization to address the lack of English content in Northern Netherlands. Their aim is to produce as much relevant English content as possible, so that internationals that do not speak Dutch will have fewer problems getting the information they need.
Nerea Quintana Álvarez, a member of the management team at the MCBN, said that they “are already working with many partners of Northern Netherlands and the plan is to work with many more,” and she expects the organization to be “very successful.” Moreover, she argues that having teams from two different educational institutions is not a coincidence, and that “the advantage of working with applied sciences universities is that students are hard workers, very creative and full of ideas. They know how to put their ideas into practice, and they solve the challenges very impressively.”
The biggest challenge that the MBCN has faced so far, according to Nerea, was that they had to move everything online. She also says that the MCBN hopes to draw attention to the importance of English content, especially in official documents. Even though all documents provided by the International Welcome Center, and most Gemeente Groningen documents are in English, many other municipalities, for instance Leeuwarden, do not provide English-language documents. Additionally, there are also many companies that do not provide documents/information in English. Stichting Milieu Educatie (SME) for instance, a socially engaged consultancy that stimulates sustainable thinking dealing with policy and process, residents and behavior, and education. Having English content and documentation for internationals is very important, especially in an international country.
Who forms the MCBN?
Creating English content in the North would not be possible without the participation of eight groups of students from both universities, and eight companies related to the world of communication located in the North.
Each group is working once a week for one of the partner organizations helping them create content in English, creating media strategies to share the content and much more. The tasks the teams have to perform involve everything from creating English-language content to bolster existing content, creating social media campaigns, and finding creative new ways to reach non-Dutch speaking audiences in the North.
Each team is working on a plan, and the most feasible, innovative and creative ideas of the plans will be those that will form the MCBN in reality. The actual creation of the MCBN is expected to begin in February.
It is undoubtedly a very enriching experience for the teams, but also for the partner and supporter organizations, which are receiving a lot of proposals and innovative ideas for their businesses. But above all, this project is an important step for the further internationalization of the North.