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Sunday, September 24, 2006

IWEE: Introduction Weekend for International Students at Delft University of Technology

The new international students who arrived in TUDelft this year have had a treat. For two weekends, the IWee, Introduction Weekend for international students was organised to welcome them into the university and, more importantly, give them a boost to start integreting into life in this pleasant little town. This was the first edition of what is hoped shall become a culture here in TUD.

The event, that was jointly organised by the International Office, the Sports and Culture Centre (SnC) and the Workgroup for International Students (WIS), can readily be called a success. There were a number of events organised on the calendar (the weekends of 8th - 9th September and 15th - 16th September) among which included, a welcome dinner and dance, a tour of the city of Delft, introductions to the various student sports and culture associations that TUD has to offer, a movie and a meeting with the Rector Magnificus JT Fokkema.

On the first day of the IWee, the students were entertained by the "best juggler in the Netherlands", Niels and then shown a short movie that was a compilation of interviews with international MSc students who graduated this past August. The video was a nice mix of students from all over the world talking about their experience in TUD and what they are leaving the university with. The students were then welcomed by an official, Lian, from the City Hall. There were then two workshops, one for "the fighters" (Capoeira) and the other for "the lovers" (Salsa). A jazz band then played music till somewhere not-too-late in the night. This night they were spared at an early hour to let them get enough rest for the sports events early the next morning. That did not stop some students I spoke to the next afternoon. According to them, a party of 10 people that night ended up with 70 international students. It explained the number present for the sports the next morning.

On the afternoon of the second day, the students were taken on a tour of Delft City where some brave ones tasted "the Harring", the raw fish sold in the markt. The less adventurous students went in for the fried Kibbeling and the "real cowards" were left to only take photographs of those eating! That night there was a dance party in the sports cafe and the some of the students got to try out the Salsa skills they had learnt the evening before. Fortunately, nobody tried out their Capoeira skills.

The second weekend involved more meetings and workshops, the first being with the Rector Magnificus. He welcomed all the students by shaking the hand of each of the approximately 100 students present and mentioned that the international reputation of the university was growing every year. He was happy that the students had come from their countries to study at TUD and emphasised that they should work together to make a better world. The last day of the second weekend were dedicated to events that were to bring the international students to meet with dutch students through some of the student associations not based at the sports and culture centre. A dinner was organised at Laga, the student rowing club and the students later went to Lorre for a dance party. Unfortunately, the dinner was not too well attended. There was never any doubt that the dance party would be full!

Whereas there were many activities that the students were involved in over the IWee, a more important aspect that occured naturally was the bonding of the students and the meeting with their fellow classmates from different countries. The first natural reaction, when one is new in a foreign country, is to look for familiarity. This means French with French, German with German, American with American, Nigerian with Nigerian and Chinese with Chinese. This means study and stick in your circle! However, an education at an international university is more than just academic. It is in the depth and breadth of exposure that one gets from interacting with different cultures and situations. It would be a nice if the IWee was the beginning of a more active international students population and more meeting and mixing between all cultures of the world. As the Rector Magnificus said during the meeting with the students, "Let us work together".