Dutch covid WhatsApp group keeps internationals in the loop

Dutch covid WhatsApp group keeps internationals in the loop

When UCG student Bart Swinkels (23) noticed that his international classmates struggled to follow local updates on coronavirus, he started translating news on WhatsApp. Over 360 students have joined his Dutch Covid-19 News groups since March.
21 October om 10:14 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.
October 21 at 10:14 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.
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Door Yoana Petrova

21 October om 10:14 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.
Avatar photo

By Yoana Petrova

October 21 at 10:14 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.
Avatar photo

Yoana Petrova

Despite an abundance of news sources on the coronavirus, it’s a challenge to find timely updates about Groningen, says Kate Mac, (21) a UCG student from Great Britain. ‘It took a lot of time to find it in English, and Bart translates only useful information and does so very quickly.’ 

Time-saving

Last March, when news about the coronavirus was everywhere, Bart started posting updates for his classmates in their group chat. It was chaotic and mostly in Dutch, so he created a separate group chat for news and government updates in English. In a matter of days, word spread, and the group reached the limit of 256 members. ‘The WhatsApp chat system could not accommodate all the people who wanted to join’, says Bart. 

Currently there are two groups operating with over 360 members in total. Kate and her classmate Linda Ardenghi (21) joined the group at the very beginning on the recommendation of fellow students. It’s a structured and time-saving representation of what is going on, the students say.

Moreover, when Linda needed to travel to the Netherlands from her home country of Italy, Bart sent her all the forms and documents she needed to fill out to come back to Groningen. ‘He explained the new measures very clearly and it saved me a lot of time and trouble,’ says Linda. 

Translation 

Bart translates all the news himself. ‘It’s not that much work’, he says. ‘Compared to the spring, it’s more condensed now. There’s just a weekly big announcement, and no more daily updates.’ 

He usually watches the weekly press conference, keeps up with his prime sources ‘like NOS and de Volkskrant’ and always publishes an overview of the new measures. ‘For more in-depth things, I might spend an hour on gathering all government sheets, providing links and writing the entire update.’

Doesn’t the group interfere with his exam preparation? Not really, he says. ‘UCG students are mostly busy with essays, so I can spare an hour or two a week to help people.’

If you’re interested in joining the group, you can do so here.

Nederlands

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