Ambassadors in action

Last year, Edmond Doumon was eager to help the RUG promote itself in his home country of Ghana. This week, he and a fellow International Alumni Ambassador will get the chance during the first Dutch Business & Education fair in Accra.

Edmond Doumon’s big plans to promote the RUG in his home country of Ghana are finally happening, it seems. This week, the Dutch embassy in the capitol city of Accra will host the first Dutch Business & Education Fair.

The RUG is among the Dutch universities being represented, thanks in no small part to Edmond Doumon, an International Alumni Ambassador from 2013 to 2014.

Surprised but happy

Edmond says, half-joking, that his involvement actually began years ago. ‘I met with a representative from the embassy three times between 2013 and 2014 about considering the idea for a Groningen fair’, he says.

So when he got a call from Isma Moualhi, the International Alumni Officer in Groningen, last month about manning a booth representing the RUG at the fair, he was surprised but happy.

Another former RUG student from Ghana will be joining Edmond at the RUG stand: Amisah Z. B. Antwi-Berko, the current International Alumni Ambassador. The fair will actually be the first time they’ve met. Edmond is a graduate of the RUG’s leadership master programme through the Honours College and Amisah is a graduate of the Modern History and International Relations research master in Groningen.

More involvement

Moualhi is very glad that the ambassadors are able to contribute. ‘I got a call from the marketing department because they knew about the embassy’s plans to have this fair, and they wanted to know if we had any alumni in Ghana who may be able to help out. I was happy to put him in touch with Edmond and Amisah.’

During his official year as an International Alumni Ambassador, Edmond was eager to promote the RUG everywhere he could. But given that the IAA position is on a voluntary basis, there wasn’t a budget for his ambitious plans.

This year, the marketing department is actively pursuing more involvement from the IAAs across the world, as well as participating in more educational fairs due to a nearly doubled annual budget. ‘More alumni ambassadors are being called upon to help out at recruitment fairs, as well as working as translators or simply providing additional support’, Moualhi says.

The role of the IAAs is to promote the RUG through events like the fair in Accra, as well as fostering alumni contacts and facilitating business collaborations in their home countries. New ambassadors are trained each year, and this year’s group represents sixteen different nationalities.

‘It’s kind of living a dream’

During a Skype call from his office at the University of Ghana, Edmond says he is eager to participate in the fair. ‘It’s kind of living a dream, it’s what I’ve always wanted to be able to do.’

Universities from Maastricht, Leiden, Rotterdam. Delft and Wageningen will also be present at the fair in Ghana, along with several smaller Dutch institutions. Marketing coordinator Jessica Winters says the RUG is there as part of a consortium of Dutch universities participating in the first event of its kind in Accra.

‘If it wasn’t for the ambassadors, Ghana wouldn’t necessarily be on our radar. Since they’re already there, it’s less risk for us to do something like this for the first time, too’, Winters says. She also admits that it’s convenient that the ambassadors are there – no other marketing staff members were available to attend the fair.

And it’s a bit of a learning process, Winters admits: ‘We sent them brochures, but they contacted us yesterday asking for posters, too. So, if we are going to work with the ambassadors, we have to be proactive about ensuring they have the materials they need to promote the university.’

Edmond feels prepared, though. He has been promoting the RUG to everyone who will listen for years, anyway. He says his goal for the fair is simple: ‘I want to share my experience about the school and my programme in the Honour’s College in particular, and I want to excite the people.’