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Home » Impact report: a bigger network and new friends thanks to the Samen Hier student community
26-01-23

Impact report: a bigger network and new friends thanks to the Samen Hier student community

Written and translated by Natasja van Hoorn
Picture by: Sanjana Khemanii

In 2021 we set up the Samen Hier student community in collaboration with UNICEF Student Team The Hague (USTTH). This was initially done to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation under (international) students and students with a refugee background during and after the COVID-19 lockdowns. During the second edition, in 2022, the focus of the community shifted to finding connection when you’re new somewhere.

“I’m trying to build a new life in the Netherlands. By participating in the student community, I hope to become part of Dutch society.”

Students in the second edition spent a period of ten weeks together, in groups of four. The groups consisted of two (local or international) students living in The Hague and two students with a refugee background. The programme consisted of weekly meetings to exchange experiences, to spend time together and to participate in “community building” events together with the other groups, organised by UNICEF Student Team.

This resulted in many positive experiences and results, demonstrated by the evaluation report.

New friends, new cultures and trust and support

From the evaluation interviews it became evident that the student community was a way for each participant to broaden their network and to make new friends with peers with a different background. A reoccurring motivation given by the students living in The Hague was that they, in this way, could support newcomers in overcoming challenges.

An anonymous participant expressed:

“I wanted to be part of a community project that bridges the barriers newcomers face when coming to a new city by meeting university and like-minded students.”

From the experiences of the students (both The Hague-based and newcomer students), it turned out that their participation in the Samen Hier student community made them feel (more) at home in The Hague. In a relatively short time, a strong bond of trust was formed within the groups. Additionally, the students expressed that their participation added to their knowledge about cultural customs, the political state of affairs outside of their home country and the personal interests of their group members. In this manner, everyone broadened their knowledge and the student community was an enrichment for every participant.

The majority of the participating students expects to remain in contact with their group.

Find the complete evaluation report about the second edition of the Samen Hier student community by clicking the button.