CERVANTES BENELUX ENGLAND AND WALES
& Training, Recruitment
Management, Business Consultancy, Travels, Translation Services, Interpret Services, Public Relations, Communication, Publishing, Spanish in Spain and Latin
America, America, Enterprises, Air Lines, Automation, Internet, Productions, Insurances, Hotels, Football, Princess Diana Stadium, Television, Real Estate.
Nijmegen. Born in the latter days of
the birth gulf after the Second World War in a town environment.
My father was a Dutch protestant and mother changed from Roman
Catholic to the Dutch protestant church for the benefit of her
marriage. I received my education in a Roman Catholic kindergarten,
a protestant primary school and a oecumenic secondary school:
the Nijmeegs Lyceum. A period that strongly determined my vision
on the world. Ideologically the Nijmegen Lyceum parted from general
christian principles. Socially the college wore a free-thinking,
liberal character. The school was achievement-oriented, but principally
characterized by a strong group performance: the Association of
Nijmegen Lyceists. From the beginning pupils were introduced into
a democratical process. Study groups existed and every year two
school parties were organized. Contacts came about, lasting relationships
and also marriages have found their origin in the Nijmegen Lyceum
time. It was the time of the birth of a new time spirit: Bob Dylan:
"The times they are a changing", "Like a Rolling
Stone", the Rolling Stones: "It's my life and I do what
I want", The Beatles: "And I love her". Youth got
its own identity and became very creative. Existing structures
were broken off: the May Revolt in Paris 1965.
Study- and careers counselling still
were not so strongly developed in those days. Advices were given
on the basis of study notes. It became clear to me that I had
a strong need of building, designing, a creative occupation and
enrolled in a study in architecture at the Politechnical in Arnhem.
This was to me a complete culture-shock. The politechnical culture
was dominated by an excessive attention for technical aspects
and a minimum for human communication.
This experience urged me to decide to
invest in the guidance of people, in building human organizations,
starting at the basis: the education of young children. I became
interested in developmental psychology, psycho-analysis, pedagogics,
didactics, educational systems and communication processes by
means of the language. In 1966 I entered the Peter Kanis Teacher
Training College in Nijmegen. I was the first non catholic student
of this college with a Roman Catholic signature. I passed for
my religion examinations of the Old and New Testament with the
maximal result. So my knowledge of christian religion was rather
good. In this aspect it was an interesting time. The reformer
Professor Schillebeekx lived litterarily in the back garden and
determined the new theology of the Roman Catholic church in the
Netherlands. Ideologically my vision of a universal, holistic
religion was born here. The college offered me the possibilities
to take personal inititatives. In close consultation with the
principal I organized a Students Council, a platform of consultation
between group representatives and management and control unit
of sport, play and workgroups. In this quality I represented the
collegestudents in a Union of Students of Dutch Teacher Training
It also was the period of my
first European travels. First England and Scotland (Fort William
1966), afterwards Italy and Spain (1967 and 1968). To Spain many
would have to follow. These travels formed the basis of my first
cultural and social studies (Michelangelo, El Greco, Cervantes,
la Corrida de Toros) and language studies: first Italian, next
Spanish. In 1969 I received my headmasters qualification and as
a travel guide I made trips to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and
Italy: my first experience as a leader of a group of adults.
From January 1970 I joined the military
service at the cavalry in Amersfoort. At the School of Reserve
Officers of the Regiment of Boreel I gained important strategical
November 1970 I took up my duties as a teacher at a primary school:
working hard during nine years in the education of about 300 young
people. At the same time working hard on a part time study in
Spanish on an academical level. By choosing for the Polytechnical
College I had lost the chance to obtain an academical degree.
The part time studyprogramme at the University of Nijmegen offered
me that possibility. Studying in the evening hours (from 20.00
until 23.00 h.), weekends and holidays (20 Spanish books went
along to Mallorca): translation, literature, grammar, historical
grammar, fluency, didactics, etc. etc. Working, studying and rolling
up the sleeves. Little time for social contact. The third of July
1971 engaged in Patio de los Leones of the Alhambra in Granada.
Married in 1973. Introduction to a form of catholicism unknown
to me until then. We went to live in a village near Nijmegen.
1976 birth of Mark, 1979 Ramon. Stable period characterized by
working and relationships in the educational field, building a
family and studying.
In 1977 I graduated on the themes
"Bodas de Sangre" of Federico García Lorca and
y cristianismo nuevo
en el Don Quijote de la Mancha de don
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra"
related to the theme of "La
edad conflictiva of Américo Castro.
My line of development or career
path seemed to get into a dead end at that moment. The Dutch educational
system did not offer any employment for hispanistic graduates.
So I started again a language study. English this time to create
a combination possibility in the future. It was however also the
time of the rise of the so called "éducation permanente".
Adults came to be aware that life is one long path of learning
and that regular intellectual repleneshing of one's reserves is
a necessity to keep socially and culturally pace with the developments
of the time. After having attained the Spanish study success the
first challenge presented itself: a solution for the social problem
(that I took up in 1988): for a graduated hispanist there was
no work! Therefore I started a small language school in 1978.
Characteristics of that time:
first experiments with legal constructions, setting up an organization,
accounting, talks with members of the council and recruitment
of students. A nice start: 120 adult students in English, French
and Spanish. In 1979 I took the decision to give up all the certainties
of the regular educational system (I was still a children's teacher)
and started as an "independent" educational manager
by the foundation of the 'French-Spanish Institute B.V.' FSI.
This was an interesting period of learning.
A period of taking ventures, strive for ideals, take risks, confrontations,
conflicting situations and the permanent search for creative solutions.
A period in which the accents of teachership gradually moved into
the direction of entrepeneurship.
1979 became a fantastic year:
freedom, working from my own house, daily on my way from studycenter
to studycenter. In no time a back office was set up and a network-organization
built up in 24 places within a range of 125 kilometers around
Nijmegen up to Roosendaal, Bussum and Emmeloord. Well qualified
teachers were selected and placed on the locations where weekly
a good educational product was established. On Saturdays studydays
with the teachers took place, during the evenings I assisted the
lessons and I spoke with students and teachers.
I could completely expand my
expertise in the field of education and Spanish in combination
with my love for organizing and entrepeneurship. The start was
very encouraging: 750 adult students. Next year was even more
successfull. The number of courses was extended with Italian and
Portuguese. The FSI tended towards an Institute for Roman Studies.
A redactional free publicity campaign under the slogan "Increasing
interest for French and Spanish" caused a "Spain-vogue".
Result: double the amount of students. An intensive collaboration
arose with an institute in Madrid (and afterwards in Málaga,
Gran Canaria and Salamanca), that lasted until 1986. 1980 was
not only the year of success because of the marketing approach,
but in my view particularly as a result of the new didactical
methods I introduced in close cooperation with my teachers: the
traditional grammar-translation method made room for a functional-notional
approach: Spanish and French for the use in recognizable situations
for the students and directly appliable in the daily communicative
Developments in the market of
private education led in 1980 to a strong decrease in numbers
of students of the sister institute 'Institute of English Studies'.
The FSI had changed into a member of the British Linguarama organization
and I was appointed Managing Director of a company with 6000 students
all over the country. The office was established in the center
of the Netherlands and I moved with my wife at that time and my
sons Mark and Ramon to the village of Maarn in the province of
Utrecht. An enormous workload was laying ahead in which I could
explore myself in all possible fields of management.
Product groups, coursegroups,
teachersfiles were joined under my responsibility and the courses
were adapted to the demands of that time. One course was set out
and colleagues of different cultures were placed on one line.
I divided the country in 24 districts and travelled from one part
of the country to the other: teachers' meetings in Groningen,
Nijmegen, The Hague, Breda, ROTTERDAM,
Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Alkmaar and meetings of projectmanagers
central and decentral. Everything was headed to achieve one commitment
of all employees. Within a short while the company functionned
nationwide as one entirety. Economically the organization recovered
within two years (a deficit of 24% of the total turnover) and
in intensive consultation with the fellow partners a new expansion
in the market was started.
We invested in automation of
the accounting and organizational system, product development
and promotion. New objectives were formulated:
* reduction overhead costs by
automation to be able to compete price technically with subsidized
institutions in other segments of the market;
* development new educational products, for example the course
of translater-interpreter for the State examination for the languages
English, French and Spanish;
* anticipate on direct trends in the market: introduction courses
* obtain governmental recognition;
* quality improvement of the courses and adaptation to the future
demands of the Law on Recognized Educational Institutes.
The product gamma meanwhile existed
of courses in English, French and Spanish on seven year levels:
two years elementary, Conversation and Fluency, First Certificate
and Proficiency of the University of Cambridge, Certificat d'Etudes
Françaises, Certificado de Español, three years
translator-interpreter English, French or Spanish and courses
in other languages: German, Italian, Portuguese, New Greek, Servo-Croatian,
Turkish, Bahasa Indonesia and Dutch for foreigners.
Spanish in Spain
French in France
English in England
From the FSI-time dated the collaboration
with the Instituto Sampere in Madrid, with whom I organized educational
language travels and maintained an exchange of know how that contributed
directly to the quality of the Spanish courses. This activity
led to the issue that from 1985 I worked some time together with
members of the International Association of Language Centres (IALC),
a worldwide spread network-organization. As I already stated,
in Spain I worked together with schools in Madrid, Gran Canaria,
Salamanca and Málaga. In 1986 I organized language travels
in collaboration with NRV Holiday and schools in Madrid, Salamanca,
Paris and London (The Pitman Institute). With the management of
NRV Holiday I worked out a concept for a division of language
travels. This plan has not been carried out as a result of financial
problems of the NRV organization. The programme afterwards has
been executed by the organization 'don
Quijote', founded the 18th of September 1986.
Fight for the
In 1986 I founded a new institute
with the objective to develop new educational programmes for unemployed
academics. This led to a conflict of interest with my partners
with the consecuence that I had to withdraw from the language
institute and at that point I decided to tend a course in general
management of 'de Baak', the official Management Institute of
the Dutch Employers Organization. I dealt intensively with theory
and practice of general management, public relations, marketing,
organization, organizational development, social skills, financial
management, automation and recruitment policy.
In collaboration with the Dutch
Trade Centre and the Spanish employers organization 'Confederación
Española de Organizaciones Empresariales' I worked out
a new educational concept for unemployed hispanists: International
Marketing for the Spanish market. On behalf of Radio Nederland
Wereldomroep at the time I gave an interview in Spanish that reached
the public of all countries in Southern Europe and Latin America.
On the first of October 1989
de Baak got a new management. In close collaboration with my new
colleague I introduced new workprocesses. An intensive reorganization
was necessary. The existing management made room for new blood.
On the first of April 1990 I was accepted in the managementteam
in which ideas have been developed leading to a considerable result
improvement compared with the former year. I participated in brainstorm
sessions and the execution of a number of measures:
- financial investigation, break-even
analysis and costs cutting;
- development new products (product differentiation);
- find new market segments (market differentiation);
- scaling down and efficiency improvement by function adaptation
of employees (internal organization);
- restructuring internal communication processes (started with
bottleneck analysis internal processes and incoming and outgoing
- restructuring automized information system;
- working from product oriented towards market oriented.
The first of July 1991 this very
pleasant job unfortunately came to an end.
In december 1990 a new future
vision was born: an educational institute in Spain in which (Spanish)
language communication and management skills play an important
role. I developed an initiative for a business plan of an 'Instituto
de Comunicación Internacional y Gestión de Empresas"
under the tradename
consisting of a policy plan,
in which the basic assumptions of policy and the underlying argumentation
are described, and an execution plan with the concrete actions
that had to be undertaken to execute the policy plan. Within this
matter I have had to overcome strong resistances.
I divorced on the 22nd of April
1992. From the 29th of April until the 15th of June 1992 I made
a trip through Spain (Valladolid, Salamanca, Madrid, Alcalá
de Henares, Aranjuez, La Mancha, Sevilla, Puerto de Santa María,
Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Málaga, Frigiliana,
Granada, Alicante). The trip was recorded in a travel report and
videoreport. The 6th of October 1992 the foundation of the 'Foundation
Cervantes Benelux' took place. The attacks on my institute came
particularly from criminal organizations and I decided to combat
their resistance. This battle has continued until their complete
defeat the first of August of 1996. The day before I had invited
the crown princes of the Benelux and Spain to accept a seat in
the Foundation Cervantes Benelux. They reacted with enthousiasm.
The formation is still in process however. Having established
a permanent right of the trademark 'Instituto Cervantes' in the
Benelux I sent my first 'State of the Union' to the Dutch Prime
Minister last September. The plan now reaches the moment of execution
and afterwhile I may think of a new personal relationship as well.
Nijmegen, 3d November 1996.
To be continued
TRAFFORD PUBLISHING CANADA
INSTITUTO CERVANTES BENELUX is legally registered at the Benelux
under deposit numbers 0508277 and 843323 in class 41: education,
trainings and courses and is a tradename of the Foundation Cervantes Benelux in Nijmegen, registered under number 41211928
of the Chamber of Commerce of Amsterdam (IBAN: NL91INGB0004729266
is registered for England and Wales under Company No. 3300636
INSTITUTO CERVANTES BENELUX está legalmente depositado
comercial en el
registro de marcas del Benelux-Bureau
voor de Intellectuele Eigendom bajo los números de depósito 0508277
y 843323 en clase 41: educación, enseñanza y cursos
y es un nombre comercial de la Fundación Stichting Cervantes Benelux en Nimega, inscrito bajo número 41211928
de la Cámara de Comercios en Amsterdam (IBAN: NL91INGB0004729266 BIC: INGBNL2A).
is registered for England and Wales under Company No. 3300636
is als handelsmerk wettig gedeponeerd bij het Benelux
Bureau voor de Intellectuele Eigendom onder depotnummers 0508277 en 843323 in klasse
41: onderwijs, opleidingen en cursussen en is een handelsnaam
van de Stichting
te Nijmegen, ingeschreven onder nummer 41211928
van de Kamer
van Koophandel te Amsterdam
(IBAN: NL91INGB0004729266 BIC: INGBNL2A). Instituto
is registered for England and Wales under Company No. 3300636
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED