28 August 2019 • HNTB
Studying beats sunbathing
Juy 1st was a date many students looked forward to. For some this was the start of a well-deserved summer holiday, for others it meant the start of school. Summer School that is! The Hague Summer School welcomed students from all over the world, to work on global challenges and at the same time explore the city.
To Caipeng Yan from China, the Summer School experience felt like a four week holiday. “In comparison to the people in Shanghai, people in The Hague move very slow! They go to the beach, they have a drink on a terrace … They really seem to enjoy their lives. Back home I am studying a post-grad in sustainable constructions and city planning, so I have a great interest in how life is in other cities. Hence my main reason for choosing Summer School in The Hague: the elective Sustainable Cities. I was very interested to learn about different strategies that this country applies. During trips to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Culemborg I learned many things, for instance about renewable energy and how you can use seawater to regulate buildings’ temperatures. Because some areas in China have the same climate as here, I can apply those techniques in my course work at home.”
Sustainable Cities was one of the six electives students could choose from. Others were, for example, Local Impact of Global Migration and Leadership for Sustainable Innovation. All electives had one thing in common: their link to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, set in September 2015 to make our planet fair, healthy and sustainable by 2030. Darchelle Burnette chose the elective Human Rights, Security & Development, which connects perfectly to the Master’s programme she follows in California. “I study social and behavioral sciences with a concentration in anthropology and a minor in peace studies. Politics is a very big part of that and with this elective, I’ve learned more about geopolitics. Very useful, because in the future I’d like to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Darchelle learned about The Hague Summer School through the TRIO program, an educational opportunity outreach program, designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. And it’s exactly this disadvantaged background that Darchelle perceives as a great contribution to the classes. “I come from African ancestors on one side of the family and native American ancestors on the other. Both were colonised in a different way. I feel that gives me a valuable perspective on geopolitical matters and intersectionality. By thinking together with fellow Summer School students about human rights affairs, I hoped to bring a different point of view to the table. I know from first-hand experience what it’s like when worlds collide, and that knowledge can be useful in political discussions.
To make sure all students felt right at home in The Hague during the Summer School, student buddies were asked for support. “Guiding excursions to the Peace Palace, Amsterdam and Utrecht, assisting when things go wrong and pointing out nice places to go to in the city. Those are roughly your tasks as a student buddy”, is what student buddy Viktoria Vukić from Sweden explains. “Wouldn’t I rather have spent the whole summer on the beach? Of course not! I got to meet so many people from all walks of life here, that means far more to me. Being in one room with people from so many countries, cultures and academic backgrounds was a great opportunity. Especially since this was my last year in the Netherlands after four years of studying International Public Management. All the topics of Summer School related to my programme and I got to enjoy all the lectures for free. It was a perfect end of my time here.”
Academically and professionally there was a lot to gain for participants and student buddies. But as friendships are a good foundation for fruitful cooperation in the future, The Hague Summer School traditionally is also a very social event. During the afternoon and in the evening there was an extensive social and cultural programme, including museum visits and beach barbeques. Viktoria: “I think this was a great complement to the strong academic focus during the day. Although we spent a lot of time together during the day, we got to know each other in a completely different way during the social programme. I feel like this strengthened the bond and friendships between both me and the students and the students themselves. Getting in touch in the future is more likely because of this!”