MAASTRICHT. Why should we choose an international classroom? How can we achieve such a classroom? And how do we know if Maastricht University has been successful in doing so? These three questions were raised at the start of the student and staff panel discussion at the end of last week’s International Classroom Conference.
Diego Salama, soon to graduate from the University College, is convinced of the importance of an international environment. “The exposure to different ideas, meeting people from all over the world, from other cultures, speaking English; these are all benefits. I think it will make you a better professional.” It also creates empathy, said Heidy Maurer, a staff member from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who came to Maastricht because “it is international”. It also helps researchers to look beyond their own field, added Marc Vluggen from the School of Business and Economics.
Although the student population is becoming more international every year, segregation between nationalities – especially at SBE – is still a problem, said SBE student Kilian Crone. “How can we tackle this?” Become a campus university where students live as well as study? Create common rooms in every faculty? UCM and especially the Science College are good examples of an international classroom, according to Crone: “They create a campus feeling.”
A common room and a real mix of people from different cultures can make a difference, responded Wail al Khaldi, a medical student from Saudi Arabia. “During my pre-med programme at UCM I mixed the most. They have a common room, a lot of nationalities. When I started medicine I had my classes in the big FHML building; there you won’t find a common room. My classroom was not at all international: only students from my own country.” He emphasised: “Once you mix, the understanding and interest in others will improve.”