20 April, 2009

bye bye international class !

This week we're saying goodbye to the students of the international class. It's been an intensive and busy programme for them these past 3 months. There were lots of excursions, new experiences, new views, many different topics and as many primary schools to visit for them. One student wrote in her evaluation: "A lot of work involved but it is an amazing experience. Best 3 months of your life." So endearing to read !
This year the international group was an interesting mix with 9 students altogether, coming from Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain and the Basque country. All in all they were so positive and enthusiastic about what they have come across here in Rotterdam and at our university. And they were delightful students to have in class, was the comment I often heard from my colleagues.
When asked to provide some advice to future students coming next year, they came up with the following top tips a.o.: buy a bike, be on time (just do it the Dutch way !), buy a discount card for travelling by train, don't leave home without your map of Rotterdam and don't lose it, be aware of Dutch timetables, don't complain about the weather, travel as much as you can, prepare yourself for eating spicy food, "krokets" and potatoes, or for cooking yourself and last but not least: if you are drunk, don't take your bike.;-))
Really pragmatic tips aren't they !
Here is a short impression of this wonderful group of international students on a visit to CVD/STAP:

01 April, 2009

Hello and goodbye !

On Monday March 23rd a number of SPH and Pedagogiek students gathered on our top floor, with views extending over Rotterdam, a suitable location for a so-called hello and goodbye party. The idea of the party is knowledge exchange and transfer around international placements. Students coming back from their placements abroad gave presentations and students getting ready for an international experience coming September had the opportunity to ask lots of questions.

hello and goodbye session from Jane Traveller on Vimeo.

Many tips and suggestions were given and many experiences were related. It was fascinating to see how these “placement abroad” students had overcome a number of the difficulties they faced, how they had gone through a period of personal growth and how they had benefited from this.
And just as eagerly as always the new bunch of students took it all in and left the meeting with their heads full … of anticipation.

annual NUFFIC conference

Yesterday I attended the annual Nuffic conference for the first time. The decision to go was easily made because it was to be held in Rotterdam and the theme appealed to me. The focus was on the relation between internationalisation and development cooperation, an issue that has been on my mind for a few months but which I haven't been able to explore up to now.

The main issues and messages that I took away from this day were: it is operating in (global) sustainable partnerships and educational networks, cooperating with local NGO's and utilizing their local expertise, finding global solutions to the global problems we are now facing, empowering people to prepare them for dealing with the issues at hand, but it is also instilling a sense of social responsibility into students (and educational institutions) in various ways, for example by introducing the concept of global citizenship to students and discussing what place they envisage for themselves in the global community, that was generally seen as the road ahead of us, to put it in a nutshell.

The two keynote speeches and the workshop on Capacity Strengthening in Developing Countries were definitely eye-openers for a novice like me in this field. These sessions provided me with a number of new insights, such as the 3 levels of engagement at which one can operate.
It was especially Doekle Terpstra, chairman of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, who made the most lasting impression on me, emphasizing the new and different tasks which should be tackled in the near future. He told the audience that especially the universities of applied sciences have a substantial contribution to make in development cooperation due to their vocational nature and their potential to play a leading role in practical, hands-on knowledge exchange, based on applied research. In this way they can also maintain their role as a transformative agent in pursuit of humanity’s highest ideals.
With all due respect he also gave the Nuffic organisers an indication of how particular (funding) programmes could be changed to everyone's advantage.
After watching the amusing new Study in Holland video it was time for informal networking chats. It was amazing to see how many Dutch speaking people from all over the world had gathered here in Rotterdam to attend the conference.