Amsterdam welcomes fifty Dutch Caribbean students

AMSTERDAM–The Municipality Amsterdam on Thursday welcomed some 50 new Dutch Caribbean students who are about to start their studies in the largest city of the Netherlands. The event has become a yearly, valued tradition. This was the seventh time the event was held.

The 50 youngsters are part of the much larger group of more than 500 students from Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba who arrived in the Netherlands in July to further their tertiary studies. The majority of these students go to Rotterdam and The Hague, but a portion also studies in Amsterdam.
This year, there were fewer students from the Windward Islands at the welcoming event in Amsterdam: two from
St. Maarten and none from St. Eustatius and Saba. The two St. Maarten students were Etienne Johnson who will be studying aviation, and Siddharth Jethwani who is eager to start his political science studies.
Every year, the Municipality Amsterdam, this time hosted by Acting Mayor Kajsa Ollongren, makes the effort to give the Dutch Caribbean students special attention to introduce them to the city and to foster a closer relation with their new home, but to also tell them about the challenges, and naturally the fun aspects.
Acting Mayor Ollongren said she found it important to make the new students feel welcome and appreciated. “You are embarking on a new journey in a still unfamiliar city. It is thrilling, you are taking a next big step in your life. Your life is about to get into high-gear. You will have much to do once your studies have started, so there will be little time to feel homesick,” Ollongren said.
Ollongren had more encouraging words for the new students. “We very much want you to successfully complete your studies, that you learn a lot, discover, meet people and that you conclude your studies with pride. You are an asset to this city with your own story, experience and input, because it is the people that make Amsterdam.”
Aruba’s Minister Plenipotentiary Juan David Yrausquin complimented the Municipality Amsterdam for organising the welcoming event. “You are making the students feel welcome and that is a very valuable gesture.” He said the group of students from Aruba seeking tertiary studies in the Netherlands was important for the future development of his island due to their great potential.
St. Maarten’s Minister Plenipotentiary Henrietta Doran-York commended all students on their decision to further their studies. She said she hoped to see everyone, especially the St. Maarteners, return home after their studies to “help build our young, seven-year-old country.” She emphasized that her cabinet was always willing to assist the students with whatever concerns they have.
A number of students got the opportunity to introduce themselves. When asked by moderator Tanja Fraai about his future plans, St. Maarten student Jethwani explained that after his political science studies he planned to switch to project management for his masters. “When I was in high school, I was active in the youth division of the Rotary, organising events for a good cause. I thought, since I like this so much, why not study something that I enjoy.”
Studying in the Netherlands is not always easy: students confront many challenges such as homesickness, a new culture and language, living on one’s own, study pressure and the temptations of a larger community than they are accustomed to on the islands.
To prevent drop-outs, it is important to talk about these challenges and solutions. Keynote speaker at Thursday’s event, former student Edion Wallé from Curaçao who secured his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Amsterdam and was offered a job following a successful traineeship at the Municipality Amsterdam, shared his experiences. He advised the students to be eager to learn about their new surroundings, to make new friends, get out of their comfort zone and to challenge themselves.
A range of representatives from universities and higher vocational education HBO, as well as supporting organisations were present at Thursday’s event to assist and encourage the new students. Organisations that were present included the Study Financing Organisation DUO, the Division Student Support of Aalse and Partners, the WeConnect Foundation, Dutch Caribbean student association Hvanti, the Reporting Centre for Discrimination of Amsterdam and the Trainee Bureau of the Municipality Amsterdam.

Source: The Daily Herald