Saturday, September 30, 2006

Virginia goes to Cuba

Good news (I think), Virginia has been awarded a scholarship to study medicine in Cuba for seven years! But first, she has to pass an interview, health check up (mainly a blood test) and a Spanish language test. Poor thing, first she's educated in Bahasa Indonesia, next she's told she'll have to learn Portuguese if she's to hold down a government job, and now she has to learn Spanish in order to become a doctor! (The language situation is trying for everyone, but especially for the Timorese.) She'll be taught Spanish for three months by some of the nearly 300 Cuban doctors who are sent (unwillingly) to Timor to serve the community. Timor and Cuba have a bilateral agreement concerning the training and sending of doctors. Anne Barker from the ABC did a report on the Cuban doctors in Timor back in July which you can read here.
Senyor Rafael is very excited; it has been his long held desire for Virginia to become a doctor; so much so in fact that I wonder if Virginia really wants to herself! It seems that parental expectations are prevalent no matter where you go.
When Virginia lands in Havana, she might just find herself amidst more civil and political unrest if Castro's ill health continues to decline and the good, but very oppressed citizens of Cuba aren't happy with his brother at the helm. I wanted to give Virginia the aptly titled Lonely Planet publication Enduring Cuba by Zoe Bran but as it's in English and she only has a basic command of the language, I didn't want to burden her any further. I don't imagine that LP published it in Bahasa Indonesia?
Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Português/Portuguese Français/French Deutsch/German Italiano/Italian Español/Spanish 日本語/Japanese 한국어/Korean 中文(简体)/Chinese Simplified


It's called "Indonesian", not "Bahasa Indonesia". You don't call Portuguese "'LĂ­ngua Portuguesa" in English, do you?

Just because many Timorese are educated in Indonesian, doesn't mean that they are so intellectually stunted that they can't learn other languages - there are many who have learnt Portuguese since 1999 who are now studying in Portugal without difficulty. Languages are only "trying" for Timorese if they're too lazy to make the effort - like Australians and Indonesians.

Most of the Portuguese-derived words in Tetum are similar to Spanish, which is easier to understand when spoken than European Portuguese, which drops out all the vowels so people in Portugal sound like they're mumbling.

However, Mari Alkatiri's nephew is studying medicine in Indonesia, so why can't other Timorese? As it happens, many Portuguese studying medicine are going to the Czech Republic, where medical schools are cheaper (and instruction is in English).

If I need medical treatment in East Timor, the doctor's fluency in Portuguese would not be my primary source of concern.

By Anonymous Ken Westmoreland, at 4:57 am  

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