Students broaden horizons during International Week

"Students get the opportunity to connect with other people, other cultures and other ideas. That's what this week stands for." From 31 Jan to 2 Feb, HAN organized the Health and Social Studies International Week. The kickoff provided food for thought and inspired participants to connect and so increase their understanding of one another.

Shula opening IW

Focus on small things you can do

It’s already the 12th edition of this International Week, organized by 2 schools. More than 1,500 2nd-year students attended workshops and lectures by national and international guest speakers. They spoke on topics such as empathy, prejudice and inclusion. This year’s theme was “Growing Together”. HAN Executive Board member Bridget Kievits had the honor of opening the week on Wednesday morning.

She was proud that HAN had so many international guests. Sharing experiences and knowledge about health and wellness is important. Especially at this time, when there are concerns about the future and political polarization is widespread. The circumstances you face can be so difficult, so enormous. "How do you then make sure you don't lose heart?" Bridget told attendees to focus on the little things you can do. Every step, no matter how small, is a step.

Every step, no matter how small, is a step.

World Citizenship

In education, it is important to make students aware of multiple perspectives and teach them to ask the right questions. Bridget: "Those who don’t have doubts don’t learn." This approach aligns with HAN's World Citizenship strategic goal, in which we train students to become professionals who can respond flexibly to changes in society. Who think about the consequences of their actions and work respectfully with people from all kinds of backgrounds.

"Students are our hope for the future, but of course we are jointly responsible. It helps if we are aware that we are all connected." And it’s precisely this that clarifies the importance of the international week. Isabel Bautista, co-organizer of the week adds: "Here, students have the opportunity to connect with others, be inquisitive and open. To exchange ideas and discover that "agreeing to disagree" is also an option. It’s a great week for expanding your horizons."

Connect with others, be inquisitive and open.

Climbing the empathy wall

That this open attitude helps us move forward is confirmed by the 1st speaker of the day: presenter/programmer Shula Tas. She aptly explained that we can look at the same thing but see something completely different. This affects how you feel; it creates a certain discomfort. There is a lot going on in the world right now; think of climate issues and wars. You can easily lose understanding of each other; you run into the so-called “empathy wall”. The other person's point of view or attitude triggers something in you, which soon puts you at odds with each other.

So, for Shula the upside-down flag of the protesting farmers became a symbol of aggression and unreasonable farmers who didn’t care about the climate and just wanted to be angry. The wall crumbled when she decided to connect with a farmer for a program she was making. And although they both have different views and interests, they also turned out to have things in common when they listened to each other. Fear, for example. It was necessary to let go of preconceptions and really connect. The protests appeared to offer this  woman hope at a time when her life was turned upside down. She felt seen and heard in this way. The upside-down flag that scared Shula actually gave this woman strength not to lose heart. 

Really talking to each other

Despite the different perspective, Shula climbed the empathy wall. This wouldn’t have happened if she’d only been on her phone. Then it’s easier to be fiercely opposed. Shula reminds those present that it is good to really talk to someone, without judgment. See what motivates someone and realize that you are shaped by your upbringing and environment. Do you feel represented by intellectuals and science? Or do you come from a family where people are practically educated? Are you perhaps the first generation to have Dutch as your mother tongue? It’s also good for students to be aware of this. Do you get into a discussion and feel you’re up against that empathy wall? Then notice that discomfort, don't push it away. Try to understand and discover what the other person sees, without judging directly. It helps you as a future professional to connect and be open in this way. 


Shula Tas
What a week!

Aftermovie 2024

Looking back

Couldn't follow all the sessions last week? No problem! Watch the sessions (soon) via the website. Be inspired, for example, by Els van Driel, Sounds of Change or Marcela Andrade del Corro. Dive into topics like immigration, music therapy, growing up in poverty, prejudices and more!

International week health