SCHIPHOL–Anxious to start their new life in the Netherlands and in high spirits, thirty students from St. Maarten arrived safely at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on Monday, where they were met by a sizable, enthusiastic delegation.
The TUI flight landed more than an hour earlier than planned, but that head start was reduced by the long wait for the luggage and the customary extra controls at Schiphol because Royal Dutch Airlines KLM had landed just before with the students from Bonaire and Curaçao, which meant that Customs had to check two flights.
After a long wait in the arrival hall, the staff of the St. Maarten House headed by St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary Henrietta Doran-York and others from St. Maarten were finally able to welcome the newly-arrived students. Hands were shaken; hugs and kisses were exchanged with a large St. Maarten flag in the background. The students were obviously pleased by this warm welcome in a good ambiance.
In the company of guidance councillors Xaviera MacDonald-Archangel and Geesha Alaran-Williams, who had flown along, the students then went to the bus which took them to the Steinberger Hotel in Amsterdam for a lunch, where Doran-York made rounds to personally speak to the students and give them advice, a gesture that was appreciated.
In her address at the hotel, the Minister encouraged the group to study hard and to make the best of their time in the Netherlands. “I can imagine what a great moment for you this must be, coming all the way across the Atlantic with the intention to spend at least the next three, four or five years in this country, so far away from home with the sole intention to achieve your desired goals,” Doran-York said.
“You will be on your own for the first time in a few hours, where you will have to make decisions for yourselves. Decisions on how to regulate your finances, how to set priorities, how to spend your free time, even what to eat. These decisions will determine how well you will do academically. I urge you, while making these decisions, to never forget who you are and from where you came.”
Doran-York reminded the students that they were always welcome at her Cabinet in The Hague for assistance, to listen, to give guidance and advice. Later in the afternoon, the students returned to Schiphol where family, friends or an assigned person met them so that they could continue their journey to their city of studies that same day.
Representatives of Unified St. Maarten Connection (USC) were at hand at Schiphol to disperse information to the newcomers about their organisation and studying in the Netherlands in general.
USC Board member Cyriel Pfennings filmed the arrival which was streamed live via USC’s Facebook page. “The new students are not our focus because they already receive coaching, but nonetheless we are here to give them a hearty welcome and to help them feel at home.”
The newly arrived students did not give the impression that they already missed home. For former St. Maarten Academy student Jamaiah Newton (19) taking up her studies International Sports Management and Business in Amsterdam means being able to stand on her own feet. “I don’t miss home. My studies will be a challenge, but I think I can handle it.”
Jeffeny Fidel Baltazar (20) of the St. Maarten Academy, Makila Fleming (18) of Milton Peters College (MPC) and Rigel Ranis (20) also of MPC, are in the Netherlands for the first time. “It is very different here, but the weather is nice,” said Balthazar, while waiting outside for the bus. His studies, International European Law in The Hague, is awaiting him. “I am happy to be here. It will be an epic challenge.”
Fleming and Ranis said they were surprised by what they called the “chilly” breeze outside the airport terminal building, despite the summer temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. “I have never felt a cold breeze like this before,” said Ranis, who was looking forward to studying ICT in Zwolle. “It will be a challenge, but I will work hard. That is after all the reason for being here.”
Fleming said she was happy to have arrived in the Netherlands after a long flight. “It feels funny being here and the wind is kind of chilly, but I look forward to my studies.” Fleming will be studying pedagogic assistant in Utrecht. She wants to do the higher vocational HBO level afterwards. Rains said that after his studies he might go for his masters, specialising in programming or another study, “But, right now I will focus on my first degree.”
Alex Arrindell (18) formerly of MPC will be studying Business IT and Management in Rotterdam. He too is looking forward to his studies, which he did not anticipate would be too hard. “I am here to work; doing so is my best interest.”
Kumar Serrant (18), also of MPC totally concurred with Arrindell on the part of working hard. His studies, medicine in Rotterdam, he expects to be challenging.
Source: Daily Herald
St. Maarten students arrive safe and sound