Read along hour

Have a letter from the Gemeente? Don’t understand your rental contract? No idea what that letter from the Belastingdienst says?

Thankfully, the Central International Office (CIO) has some help to offer. Every Monday, between 12:00 and 13:00, the CIO offers internationals at TU Delft help with their Dutch correspondence.

Called the Read Along Hour, the initiative was started two years ago, for MSc and BSc students. During this time, a Dutch staff member from the CIO sits with the student and helps them with whatever letters or documents they are struggling with. “We started the Read Along Hour because a lot of students were facing problems in communicating with the City Council, the tax office, applying for reimbursements, etc. All of this communication is always in Dutch. Students would receive letters with bills at the bottom and panic. In this case, Google Translate is not reliable at all,” said Carla Fluhr, Team Leader in Admission & Mobility at CIO.

The Read Along Hour was recently extended to include international employees and PhD candidates who also face similar problems. “If it’s a complicated matter and we cannot help, we try and find someone from a suitable department. But usually, all that is needed is someone to read the letter along with them. If there are further questions, we can even call an official body and translate the conversation for them,” she said.

The initiative started out with a two-fold agenda. “Of course we want to help students. But, as the CIO, we also want to understand what internationals go through, what challenges they face and what we can do to help them”. Helping students with their documents gives the office an insight into the various official organisations students interact with outside of the university. And, perhaps, think of long term solutions. “For instance, we realised that some organisations are legally required to speak to people only in Dutch. It is evident that international need help when it comes to communicating with them.”

Those interested in the Read Along Hour do not need an appointment and can simply walk in at the designated hour. 

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