The foundation of an international student association in Nijmegen has become a definitive fact. The Dutch branch of the Erasmus Students Network (ESN), the organization for international student associations, has ratified this during a national convention earlier this month.
Original text: Elisa Ros Villarte
Translation: Ralf Corsten
The name of the organization will be the International Student Network (ISN) Nijmegen. Sixteen branches of the ESN had already been established in the Netherlands, but not yet in Nijmegen. Lisette te Hennepe, graduate student Communication and Information Studies, and Annika Schiefner, graduate student Language and Communication, have been busy since June setting it all up. This way, they hope to fill the gap that had been created in 2010 when an earlier international student association was dissolved. Te Hennepe and Schiefner came up with the idea after seeing a large ESN branch in Tilburg, where almost all international students are members. ‘We were wondering why Nijmegen did not yet have a student association run by and for the convenience of international students, and decided to do something about that’, Te Hennepe explains.
ISN Nijmegen aims to target primarily those issues that can plague international students, such as cultural differences and a lack of belonging in the Netherlands thus far. ‘Once a month, we will be organizing evening sessions in which we will discuss possible difficulties that international students may encounter’, she explains. The association will not just be a point of contact for students, but also aims to further their integration. ‘In that vein, we are a student association for internationally-minded students, and Dutch students are more than welcome’, Te Hennepe says. ISN Nijmegen has already organized several events in the past few months, including a board game night and a treasure hunt. Future events may include weekly lunches, drinks, and other food-related activities, as well as field trips in the Netherlands.
Boudewijn Grievink, deputy head of the International Office (IO), is glad to see an organization for and by international students. ‘We are happy with it and we also support it wholeheartedly. Radboud International Students (RIS) has previously organized social activities for this target audience in cooperation with the IO. I think it is a good development that ISN Nijmegen will now take on this task, especially with the university internationalizing further and more international students applying. However, RIS will continue to organize the Orientation week for international students. I think it will be a great enrichment of Nijmegen student life.’ Te Hennepe herself has noticed wide-ranging interest for an international student association. ‘We have at this moment forty-four people who have taken an interest in becoming a member of a committee, and all of our events have attracted at least thirty people.’
Last Sunday, the organization celebrated the ratification by the ESN with committee members and other interested people by going out to eat together and holding a beer tasting. Starting February 4, after the Orientation week for international students, ISN Nijmegen will begin organizing activities in its capacity as an official student association.