International students welcome in living room
Since the lockdown and curfew, social life for students has been on the back burner. This applies even more to the international students who cannot rely on friends and family. What is the International School of Business doing to keep this group of students from getting lonely?
The HAN International School of Business (ISB) has some 1,500 students from all over the world. They come to Arnhem in September or February for a study period of 1 to 4 years. Due to corona, some of them flew back home in the past year to follow the international education online. Others chose to stay here. But they too are limited to taking classes online. Despite the limitations, international students again came to Arnhem this month to start studying at ISB.
In March last year, at the start of the corona crisis, a project team was immediately set up, says Veerle Elings, Content & Community Officer at ISB. “The 1st-year students then received lessons at school at least 1 day a week, as well as extra support. In this way we kept an eye on this vulnerable group.”
Due to the increasingly strict measures to curb the spread of the virus, these interactions with the students have disappeared and the chance of loneliness is increasing, especially among international students. “Dutch students can still visit their family and friends,” says Elings. “This is not an option for international students, so loneliness and depression are especially lurking in this group.”
Project group against loneliness
The school is going to do something about this. Recently, the project group "Student loneliness" was set up to keep a closer eye on all these students, Elings explains. “The project group has created a living room for these students in the ‘base camp’, a room in the building at Ruitenberglaan 31 on the Arnhem campus. No lessons are given there.
Normally, students come together here to work on projects, to relax, to discuss a test, that sort of thing. This space is now specially furnished for vulnerable students. We are recruiting alumni to be present in the living room one day a week from three o’clock in the afternoon until eight o’clock in the evening, for example to watch a film or documentary with students, or to play a game. A little personal attention, the social aspect that they are now lacking.”
Also on weekends
It does not stop at the evenings. “No, we want to check-in with students, especially the freshmen, also during the weekend. For example to take a walk through the city or through the neighborhood where they live, to get to know it better,” says Elings. “Also for useful tips such as where you can do your shopping.”
Until the summer holidays
The intention is to start these actions as soon as possible. “We expect that online education will continue at least for the rest of this academic year,” says Elings, “so the intention is that we will continue to offer this at least until the summer holidays.”
For more information you can e-mail Veerle.Elings@han.nl