It’s two days before the Queen's Birthday. Members of student association Tragos decorated their hostelry the Nox with red, white and blue balloons. Orange paper chains are put up to boost the Dutch character of the night even more. No, it’s not an early celebration of the Queen’s Birthday; tonight the first edition of the Passport Party takes place, an integration party for Dutch and non-Dutch students. Whilst the invitation encouraged everyone to wear something orange, it’s mainly the international students who have adhered to the dress code this Monday evening.
Why this initiative? Dutch student Roos Kroeders from Exchange Student Network (ESN) explains: “Exchange students and regular Maastricht students don’t know each other. They live in different worlds. It would be great if we got some more integration going”. The Party series, which ESN has organized together with Dutch student associations Tragos and Kokos, seems to her the best way to overcome invisible boundaries. The upcoming parties are supposed to be hosted in different cultural contexts.
Dutch students were the ones to come up with the idea in the first place. Tragos member Rogier Rouppe van der Voort comments: “I know there are rumors that we are exclusive. I think I can speak for all Dutch student associations in Maastricht, when I say that we would like to open up our doors to foreign students too.” The fact that INKOM groups will be mixed (foreign and national students put together) has nothing to do with the setup of this party series. Van der Voort: “It’s just another sign that the whole university scene is adapting to a greater diversity of students.” At the same time, the international students show their interest in getting to know the ‘Dutchies’ as well. Finnish exchange student Jenni Isohannu yells: “This party is great. A good way to meet new people. Especially Dutch ones. It’s so difficult to get in touch with them”.
What seems a bit thoughtless is that only exchange students have been invited. What about all the German students? And the other nationalities studying full-time at the university? Van der Voort: “That’s a valid point indeed. We will try to include them in the other parties we have in store for next year.”