30 April, 2010

orange, in the eye of the beholder

The day that everything colours orange, Queens's day.
It's the day after .... yesterday the international class had its so-called graduation ceremony in the grand board room of our Museumpark location. After all the hard work on the final assignments and presentations, it was time to relax and enjoy the final get together and to receive the certificates and savour the goodbye lunch at Dudok. Cameras kept flashing,loads of pictures were taken, again and again students and lecturers were called to pose in front of cameras which were lined up for the photographers.
It turned out to be an emotional moment too, as many realised that it was not only the course that had come to an end; it also meant that the time had come for departures back home. With the ash clouds having lifted and air traffic back into its regular business, there would be no reason forcing them to stay any longer, however much they would have liked too.
A small number of students is staying on, prolonging their studies with one or two months. Those are the ones who must have had the opportunity to see the Netherlands colouring orange today. Here's just a small selection of the orange madness hitting NL on April 30th.

Queen's day impressions from Jane Traveller on Vimeo.

18 April, 2010

organise a work field visit

Two small groups of students were asked to organise a morning or afternoon work field visit for the international students. Chance would have it that both chose Humanitas on the same day, but at two different locations.
Humanitas is a large social work foundation, operating at a national and local level. The Rotterdam branch is one of the largest in the country and from their head office on Pieter de Hoochweg they run quite a few social programmes.
It may have been the YES-culture of Humanitas that made these visits possible, as students had in fact little time to find and approach social work organisations in their respective boroughs. Unfortunately, not much English language information is available about Humanitas, which considers itself above all as a Dutch organisation meant for Rotterdam people. However, this page explains the basic principles and refers to the YES-culture as one of the core values of Humanitas.
It could also have been the many worthwhile programmes that Humanitas Rotterdam runs in many of its boroughs that prompted the students to visit Humanitas.
New Perspectives is one example, a project that aims at providing new perspectives for young people (aged 12 to 24) who are at risk of slipping into criminal activities. One group had chosen to take the international students to hear and talk about this project in Noord. The other group had decided on the Humanitas head office to hear from a communications officer an overview of the many projects Humanitas is involved in and the way they work with experienced volunteers in a project such as Home-start. Both visits were informative and gave a good picture of how social work is done via Humanitas and its network in Rotterdam.
But it was the actual meeting between the international social work students and the Dutch students that made all the difference.
In many ways the International Class is very much an international affair. They are a separate group attending lectures and lessons in English without mixing with Dutch students in class. As this is quite an intensive programme, special efforts have to be made to organise moments where they can meet Dutch students. Previous groups of international students had mentioned a few times during evaluation sessions at the very end that they would have preferred more encounters with Dutch students. Apart from the MUN and the occasional get-togethers , having students organise work field visits has appeared to be another stimulating experience to mingle, with benefits and fun on both sides, see for yourself:

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