Thursday 5 December 2013

International students

Flags are not unequivocally A Good Thing: national flags tend to get owned by extremists.  I grew up in Britain and the only people I knew who would sport the Union Flag without irony had fought in Korea or WWII or were either members of the National Front. I mentioned flags going up Vimy Ridge in 1917 with the Canadians and had some harmless fun thinking about what the Irish flag might look like if the Vikings had maintained a better toe-hold in Waterford. ANNyway, flags are not totally foreign to The Blob, so I make no apology for displaying a few on the left.  They are there because yesterday was International Day at The Institute. and this is about 1/4 of the nations that are represented in the student body.  NL TR ES OM KR IN as a clue to those who failed Vexillology 101 && are better at top-level internet domains.  It's a fair representation of the diversity although all continents are represent somewhere in our community.

Yesterday was just wonderful because of two anecdotes (which don't make a dataset). As I came back from class in the morning, I noted that India had acquired two noticeboards behind their husting and made some comment to the lads manning the booth.  Quick as you like one of them said "We have a lot of people in India" to which I replied that the Chinese were 6 meters South and they could manage with one board.  Another chap put his arm round the shoulder of his pal and said that he was from Pakistan but had thrown his lot in with the Indians because there were only 4 or 5 Pakistanis on campus and they had, this year, been snowed under with assignments and exams.  I was quite affected by this casual statement because people have been killed in Indo-Pakistani conflicts in 1947, 1965, 1971, 1999 with stand-offs and shape-throwing in 1986, 1987, 2001 and 2008, not to mention the perpetual simmering aggro over Kashmir.  I quipped that the (articulate, sunny [and probably Sunni too ho ho] and clearly intelligent) young man would be the next President but three back home in Pakistan.  It's not impossible to imagine that an Indian friendship forged in Ireland 3 decades before would open up the dialogue to avert a nuclear meltdown on the subcontinent in 2043.

Later on I was roused from reading a pile of lab-books by a blare of Latin American music and went out to the balcony to see the Brazilians showing that their hips move.  I was standing next to one of the porters and I told him my morning's tale.  After another set, he turned to me and said that this multiculturalism (nods downwards) was just berluddy marvellous and not before time.  So we agreed that bacon and cabbage was all very well but it was just great to have the option for kielbasa and chicken balti.  I think we both felt a certain pride to be working in an Institute that was enabling something so important. Tomorrow I'll have my last classes which include two pairs of French students.  They've been with me since September but return to their home college in Paris after Christmas.  They've brought a different way of writing their lab reports which I'm going to implement next year and have generally and in every way been √©tudiants formidables - they've been good for us all.  
Bon chance les mecs!


  1. lovely post, here's hoping for better relations all round. One thing though, don't be saying the Vikings have left Waterford for God's sake! The Viking triangle is now our "premium tourist offering" to quote the marketeers

    1. Viking Triangle? is that like the Bermuda Triangle where good longships go to die; or "Bari, Brindisi and Taranto, the Industrial Triangle of Southern Italy" ITSI BITSI? that "One" used to parrot for the Geogrpahy Leaving Cert back in the day? Oh No, it's: