Amsterdam upholds tradition to welcome island students | THE DAILY HERALD

AMSTERDAM–The Municipality Amsterdam on Thursday welcomed close to 50 Dutch Caribbean students who have just made the city their temporary home while studying at one of Amsterdam’s tertiary education institutions.

Some 25 students from Aruba, about 20 from Curaçao, and one each from St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Bonaire, gathered at Amsterdam City Hall for the traditional annual welcoming ceremony, held for the 8th time. Sofia Dubrosse from St. Maarten and Rafiq Simmons from St. Eustatius proudly represented their islands.

The fact that there were so few students from St. Maarten and St. Eustatius is because the majority of them opt for another city, mostly Rotterdam and The Hague. This year, a number of St. Maarten students also went to Eindhoven. There were no students from Saba at Thursday’s gathering in Amsterdam.

The group of new students was officially welcomed by Deputy Mayor and Alderman Rutger Groot Wassink. He said he was glad the students had chosen Amsterdam and hoped they would quickly feel at home in the largest Dutch city. This, he added, shouldn’t be a problem since Amsterdam is a multi-cultural city with a big diversity. “That international aspect is our big strength. Enjoy this beautiful city,” he said.

Groot Wassink also addressed the challenges the new students would face being far away from home. “You have taken a courageous step. It is a big transition. Believe in yourself and don’t hesitate to call for help in times of need. Studying is not easy, and your parents and islands are far away.”

St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite was present at Thursday’s ceremony. She, and her colleague Ministers Plenipotentiary Anthony Begina of Curaçao and Guillfred Besaril of Aruba shared words of motivation and inspiration with the new students. “Amsterdam is a very good choice. It is a multicultural city, so you should feel right at home here,” said Wuite.

Wuite said the students could already be proud of themselves for taking this major step. But, she added, “It is also important to accept that you sometimes fail big-time.” She called on the students to make good use of the opportunity and the high-quality study facilities. “You are not only here to take, but to also bring things like creativity and our proper manners of saying good morning. Be a responsible student, be an ambassador and be proud of your island.”

Graduated student Ray Maarten from Curaçao held a much-appreciated motivational speech. “You can be proud, you have courage, because it is no easy decision to study thousands of kilometres from home.” He told the students to dare ask questions and to make mistakes, to actively work on adapting to their new surroundings and to become a member of an association.

“Also, write down your short-term goals and stick them all around in your room. And, most important: ask, no, yell for help in difficult moments. Don’t be ashamed to do so and don’t wait until it is too late,” said Maarten.

Maarten said when he started his studies in 2011, he knew nothing of the Netherlands. “I had one goal and that was to get my first-year diploma. I made it, but things were very hard in the third year.” He specifically mentioned the organisation for Dutch Caribbean students in Amsterdam HvAnti which he said helped him to stay on his feet.
Sofia Dubrosse from St. Maarten will be studying pharmaceutical science at VU Amsterdam University. Because she couldn’t find a room in Amsterdam, a city with a shortage of affordable housing, the 19-year-old former Milton Peters College (MPC) student went to live in the nearby city Almere.

Dubrosse said Almere was a quieter city than Amsterdam, which suited her just fine. She likes the student house in Almere which she said has clear rules and even a cleaning schedule. Dubrosse goes to the university in Amsterdam by train and bus. She had the introduction week at the university this week. “I like it so far, and I have already met some of my fellow students,” she told The Daily Herald.

Statia student Rafiq Simmons will be studying ICT at Hogeschool Inholland in the nearby city Haarlem. He said he always knew that he would be “doing something with ICT,” his great passion. He is currently staying at an aunt in Amsterdam but has found a small studio in Haarlem.

After the introductions and the speeches, and in anticipation of the reception, it was time for a quiz about Amsterdam with Miss Amsterdam 2018 Janice Babel. Student Ryan from Aruba won with nine out of ten correct answers and received a kiss from the half-Surinamese, half-Dutch beauty.

Source: The Daily Herald