Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
International Student Ambassador Programme
MAASTRICHT. Beer, spring rolls, bitterballen and a lot of laughter. In total seventy buddies (all of them international students) and more than 300 first-year bachelor’s students from all over the world came together last Thursday evening in the old Bonbonnière theatre in Maastricht.
The Maastricht University International Student Ambassador Programme (ISAP) was launched as a pilot project last academic year. Its aim is to improve the integration of international bachelor’s students into university life in Maastricht and in Dutch society. “When I went to university years ago, I had no clue what to do. I didn’t have a room and barely managed to locate my fellow students. And I’m from the Netherlands. For foreigners it’s far more difficult. Buddies can help a lot”, said Harm Hospers, vice rector of education and one of the speakers this evening. “But that doesn’t mean they’ll run your life and solve all your problems. If you want a boyfriend you’ll have to find him yourself.”
The next speaker is Moritz Klein, a student at the School of Business and Economics who served as a buddy last year. “When I came to study in Maastricht in 2013 I was impressed. It was a new country, and I didn’t know many people. I felt a little alone, but I found an awesome group of friends. This is basically what this programme is about. Last year we started with hundred freshmen; now we have more than three hundred.” Tendai Sibanda, a second-year student of the Science Programme from Zimbabwe, joined ISAP as a first-year student in 2014. Now he is a buddy himself. “It was a big cultural shock, but my Belgian buddy Laurens Schroyens, a third-year student in the Science Programme, helped me a lot. We’re friends now.”
Then the matching process starts. The buddies are invited to come on stage and read the names of their students out loud: “Jannah, Michele, Louis, I’m your buddy, don’t feel shy to come on stage.”