September 26, 2020

Karel Frielink – Dean of the Consular Corps of Curaçao step down

During the commemoration of the United Nations Day on October 24, 2019, Mr. Karel Frielink – Dean of the Consular Corps of Curaçao announced his resignation after having served three terms.

To honour his great contribution to the Consular Corps, Diplomat Magazine would like to share part of his speech:

“This is my last speech as Dean of the Curacao Consular Corps. In January 2020, the members will choose my successor. After having served three terms as Dean, it is time for a new face.

On behalf of the Consular Corps of Curaçao, it is an honor to address you all on the celebration of the seventy-fourth anniversary of the United Nations.

In the past months we welcomed new colleagues who became members of the Consular Corps of Curaçao: 

  • The Honorary Consul of Libanon
  • Mr. Jean Tannous Fayad
  • The Honorary Consul of Israel
  • Mrs. Christine Pancer Cheis
  • The Honorary Consul of Sweden
  • Mrs. Lisanne Asjes
  • The Consul General of the United States of America
  • Mr. Allen Greenberg
  • The Consul of Haïti
  • Mrs. Natalie Fourcand

I am delighted to announce that this is our fifth consecutive edition of our Youth Speech Contest. We asked students from many of the schools in Curaçao to submit speeches based on one of two topics; this year’s topics:

  • Indigenous Languages: How do they contribute to a peoples’ identity in a globalized world?
  • The 5th Industrial Revolution: How could Curacao benefit from AI technology?

We received 36 speeches from various schools: Kolegio Alejandro Paula (KAP), Radulphus College, Maria Immaculata Lyceum (MIL), Albert Schweitzer, Vespucci, the Curaçao American Preparatory School (CAPS) and the International School of Curaçao. The speeches were then carefully read by the Board of the Consular Corps. 

After much – indeed much – deliberation, we named the three finalists who will soon read their speeches out loud, and they are, in alphabetical order: 

  • Rianthe Angela (.. haven’t we seen her before? …)
  • Emily Reuijl and 
  • Zachary Rodrigues. 

Our Prime Minister has agreed to chair today’s jury. The jury will judge the three presentations, based on content, writing skill, and presentation, and will announce the winner, who will receive our grand prize: a check for the amount of NAf 1,000. The prize is generously sponsored by the Child First Foundation, represented here today by its Chairman Mr. Chris Peterson. Thank you again for such a great gift.

Ladies and Gentlemen! It is important that attention is being paid to language as a phenomenon. There are, of course, other ways of communicating, such as flirting, but if a personal or business relationship, or a political or scientific discussion has to have some depth, then we cannot do without language.

But language is a complex phenomenon. The fact that people speak the same language does not mean that they also understand each other. And if this problem occurs to people who speak the same mother tongue, it is easy to imagine what communication problems can arise when people communicate in a language other than their mother tongue.

We should not underestimate the importance of language as an opportunity for a person to express their deepest feelings. Most people can only do this with the language they have learned to speak at home. That language should not be taken away from them, whether it is a commonly spoken language or a language in danger of extinction. The mother tongue is part of a person’s identity and cultural baggage.

At the same time, a language should not isolate someone. If you want to study, you will need to have at least a command of a language that is used for secondary or university education, whether it is English, Spanish or any other relevant language.

I myself am a good (or maybe I should say bad) example of someone who only started learning a foreign language at a later age. My daughters grew up in Curaçao with various foreign languages (Papiamentu, English and Spanish) from an early age and I envy the ease with which they speak those languages. They also benefit from this multilingualism in their subsequent studies. 

Multilingualism is undoubtedly an asset, but according to the Internet, French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo once said: “Even a man who mastered twenty languages uses his native language when he cuts his finger.”

When discussing language, we must not lose sight of the two most important aspects: language as part of an individual’s identity and language as a means to move forward in life. The right balance must be sought in both education and raising children.

Before moving on, the board of the Consular Corps would like to thank all the students who submitted a speech this year and the teachers who guided them – a round of applause! 

Karel Frielink, by Dion Gumbs.

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