Last week, we interviewed the two International Ambassadors of the EBF, the former International Ambassador Caroline Krinner and the current International Ambassador Syarifa Diandrina. An International Ambassador at the EBF attempts to increase the awareness of international students about the EBF and its activities. They are aiming at building a bridge between Dutch and international students and to inform international students about the opportunities the EBF offers.
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
My name is Caroline, I’m from Germany and I am 23 years old. I’m studying International Business and I’m in my third year now.
My name is Aya, I’m 18 years old and I’m form Jakarta, Indonesia. I’m studying International Business as well and this is my first year.
What is an International Ambassador and what are your main tasks?
The main goal is to build a bridge between the international and Dutch students. EBF is a great organization. We recognized that there are a lot of Dutch students who are engaged, motivated and participating in a lot of activities. However, the percentage of international students organising and parcipating in events is lower, and since we think that it is a great opportunity for international students to expand your business- and social network, we thought it would be good to focus on international students
The EBF is focusing a lot on internationalisation this year, so our presence is very crucial. I attended the workshop for internationalisation between the study associations and the University of Groningen. There I came across several difficulties. EBF is one of the largest study associations at the University of Groningen, so we’d like to set an example to other study associations to empower international students to become more active – not only in your studies but also in other aspects in your life, such as career prospects. A lot of students are not a aware that the EBF is also looking for international job prospects. A lot businesses The Netherlands expect Dutch students, they have a lot of vacancies for international students. The EBF board is trying hard to introduce international students to companies and to expand the opportunities for international students.
Can you elaborate more on the events you are organizing and attending?
The international think tank was really interesting. We asked the non-EBF members, EBF members and EBF Active Members how they perceive the EBF and if they think there was an opportunity for them at EBF. We found out that a lot of international students are not aware of the opportunities EBF can provide for them. Especially in their first year, when they come to Groningen, some international students think EBF is a Dutch association, and we’d like to change this image. The feedback and tips we got at the think tank is really helpful in doing this.
I just organized an international think tank, Caroline also organized it a year ago. I gathered around twenty students and I asked them questions about EBF and what is the main benefit to join EBF. I also invited non-EBF members, people who don’t really know about EBF or don’t want to be active at EBF. This way we got diverse answers and input from them – we’re trying to implement that in the future.
Why have you decided to become an International Ambassador for the EBF?
I joined ESR, European Research Trip, last year to Lisbon. This was actually my first international activity with EBF. I was with a lot of Dutch students and it was a great trip. After ESR I became more active at the EBF. First of all, because of the great people. Secondly, because we visited a lot of companies at the research trip, I saw that I could combine business and social activities at EBF. Since then I joined far more activities. Because of my enthusiasm I thought it would be nice to become an international ambassador to get more international students join the to EBF and experience such events.
Because this is my first year, and coming here as a non-EU student, I really wanted to get to know a lot of people. I heard a lot about EBF, and I wanted to become active and manage a lot of events. At first I wasn’t aware of international ambassador, and I applied for the international committee. But then I was chosen to become international ambassador. When I was learning about the tasks, I found out that an international ambassador is crucial for EBF. I was really honoured they chose me as international ambassador. I’m really grateful I joined EBF in the first place.
How did you become an International Ambassador, and what are your plans for the future?
I have been asked by an EBF Board member to become an international ambassador, who also joined the ESR trip to Lisbon. Our future plans are to create more awareness about the different opportunities for international students.
I read about being an international ambassador on the EBF website. For the future, we would like to create new ways in order to better integrate Dutch and international students with each other. An upcoming project of ours would be to make a new promotion video for international students on the website, and use the video to raise the awareness of the opportunities the EBF offers.
What are the reasons you contacted us for an interview?
We just had a brainstorm session on what we can do in the last half year ofthis semester. We thought it is a good start to at least let people know that there is an international ambassador, in this case two ambassadors even. International students need to know there is a contact person for them for al their questions, because there are different barriers internationals face when they come to the Netherlands. People can ask all kinds of questions. We thought it is a nice idea to present ourselves, and to let international students know we are here for them!
We really want to become more approachable for international students. Not a lot of international students are aware of the association. We really want to get the word out there, that is the main reason we are here.
What are you trying to accomplish with being an International Ambassador, both for yourself and for other people?
I really want to broaden my knowledge in terms of business and social activities. For me, with Internationalisation, it is also really important to get to know people, get more (international) contacts. I want to communicate a lot, and I want to know what strategies to use to get in contact with people with different nationalities. So I want to gain a lot of experience. I really want to help other people using opportunities there are. There are so many options, also for international students. They should join the EBF, and the trips that are offered. You can easily do it next to your studies. Everyone needs to become aware of the EBF, and the opportunities they offer.
I want to expand my knowledge and my perspective. I have learned a lot about other cultures, by talking to people with different nationalities. I really want to know what the main challenges are, and then I want to tackle these challenges. For myself, I also learn a lot from other perspectives. Going abroad brings a lot of pressure with you, in some certain cultures specifically. We also want to raise the awareness for international students that studying is not the only thing. There is way more next to your studies, there are many social activities, which is nowadays also very important. We learn international students to socialize with other people. In Indonesia for example, there is a lot of pressure to score the best with your studies. By joining the EBF, and events like the ESR trip, you can learn a lot.
Is there some advice that you want to give to international students in becoming active at the EBF?
First of all, it is easy to join events, before becoming active at the EBF. You get to know the association, and other people. Then you can ask yourself, is this something for me? So joining events is the first step. If you really want to create an impact and be involved in organizing all kinds of events, we advise you to join the EBF. You learn a lot from working in a teams, and you work closely together with the Board.
Finally, what is your advice to students who also want to become an International Ambassador for the EBF?
Of course, everyone can contact us. You need to be really motivated. There are a lot of international students. You should also get in contact with them, and with other committee members. It is also useful to contact the Board, and show your motivation, that you are really willing to assist international students in becoming more aware and active at the EBF. You need to be really enthusiastic. If you have experience with the EBF, that would also be really useful, however it is not necessarily needed. If you were active in other committees or (student) associations for example, both here in Groningen and in your home country. As an international ambassador we try to combine social and business activities, and try to create a comfortable time for international students here in Groningen. Also, if you want to apply for a job, extracurricular activities are very important. So enrich yourselves now and join the EBF!
Maaike Broeksma & Niels van Lohuizen 07-04-2017