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Dutch students get Kiwi experience

17 December 2019

Rotterdam students enjoying kai in UCOL’s Whānau Room

A group of students from the Netherlands have completed projects for UCOL and experienced New Zealand culture as UCOL continues to build its international relationships.

Students from Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences arrived in Palmerston North in mid-October as part of their Beyond Borders programme.

The Beyond Borders programme involves Rotterdam students travelling to a different country and working on projects that address health-related inequalities in the local community.

The students have completed their projects under the supervision of UCOL.

One team of students investigated ways UCOL can recruit and retain Māori students in the Health Sciences, while the other team researched assistive technology available for people with disabilities in New Zealand.

The students presented their projects to UCOL staff in mid-December and will report their findings to classmates and teachers when they return home.

UCOL Exercise & Wellness Lecturer Farzanah Desai, who supervised the team investigating Māori student retention, says it was “refreshing to have students from a different culture, context, and environment here giving their perspective on New Zealand education.”

Desai says the students really embraced Māori culture, learning waiata (songs) and visiting Kauwhata Marae in Feilding.

Student Jort van der Slujjs says the mihi whakatau (welcome speech) UCOL did for the group when they arrived was a highlight.

“We started off with a very warm welcome and were introduced to Māori culture right away. There is more of a social feel in New Zealand, whereas in the Netherlands it is more individual. That was cool to see.”

Fellow student Wessel van Seventer got a ta moko (Māori tattoo) after being referred to a tattooist by a UCOL student. The tattoo symbolises his life journey, the support he received from his grandparents growing up, and his family.

“I wanted to get a tattoo which had a lot of meaning for me. This was the perfect way for me to do it. It is very special.”

Away from studying, the group kept busy by going on nature walks around the Manawatū and visiting Tongoriro National Park.

Van der Slujjs and van Seventer are excited to travel around the South Island before returning to the Netherlands at the end of January.

This is the first group of Rotterdam students to come to UCOL as part of the Beyond Borders programme.

The opportunity came about after UCOL Construction Lecturer Marius Dryfout put a Rotterdam contact in touch with UCOL.

UCOL and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences are finalising a memorandum of understanding to explore closer collaboration in the future.


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