Political party organises debate for internationals
The internationals are invited by the local political party to discuss their experience as a student in Groningen. Other political parties will also attend the debate at the city hall, which is being organised for the first time this year.
D66 member Arend Jan Wonink has arranged the experiment. According to Wonink, Dutch students are already familiar with the local political parties. ‘Internationals, on the other hand, are not involved in local political parties because their stay in the Netherlands is too short’, Wonink says.
Rest of their lives
But it is also because of the short duration of their stay that Wonink thinks it would be wise to have a talk with international students. ‘These internationals are studying here for a few months, but they will remember Groningen for the rest of their lives. That is why it is important that they leave Groningen with a positive view on our city.’
That does not mean that the students will be brainwashed on Tuesday evening. ‘Definitely not’, Wonink says with a smile. ‘We invite the students to share their experiences in an intimate atmosphere. We would like to discuss the difficulties they encounter as exchange students in Groningen.’
Taku Mutezo is one of the international students who were invited to take part in the conversation. ‘In my opinion, Groningen is already a fantastic city to live in. However, there are some issues that can be solved’, Mutezo says. ‘Especially the housing and employment for internationals could be improved upon.’
Mutezo also sees a role for local politicians in making it easier for internationals to integrate. ‘These days, it is really hard for internationals to get in contact with local students. I am interested in how D66 thinks that could be made easier’, Mutezo says.
Wonink hopes to see his experiment develop into something bigger. ‘This is a starting point. Eventually, international students should get the feeling that we listen to them and they have influence on their own living environment.’