Whoever thought that there are no international student societies in Delft, could not be more wrong. Sixteen international societies have their offices in the old DUWO office building on Kanaalstraat 4.
And that is a surprise for Dutch students as well. “I didn’t know that international student life is so alive in Delft,” says Berend van der Mersch, former president of IAESTE. IAESTE is an international society that provides technical internships abroad and works in 90 countries. Besides that, it helps with things like visas and accommodation. Berend is Dutch, and that is unusual. “We are one of the few societies that has Dutch and non-Dutch people on the board. Before this space was available, we worked from home and had meetings in the bar.”
DUWO made the building available for the societies. “A lot of international students will live on the other side of the building, at the new Mijnbouwplein,” says Michiel Ensink of DUWO. “We want to make this area a place for international students. That was still missing in Delft. The societies do not pay for their offices here, it is a service from DUWO to breathe new life into the Mijnbouwplein.” The TU is not involved in this process. “We started together,” Ensink says, “But they focused more on areas in the centre of the campus, like Mekelpark. I hope we will find each other again.”
All kinds of societies
Big, small, debating, activities: each society is unique in its own way. A few of them are country-based, like the Chinese ACSSNL, the Latin-American Latitud, the Surinamese SuBest, the Iranian Isstud, the Indonesian PPI, the Taiwan DTSO and the big Indian ISA that has 1,000 students. “We provide all kinds of information,” explains Mihir Tandon, general secretary of ISA. “Think of parties, but also the best place to buy Indian food as Delft does not have an Indian supermarket. Another thing we did was volunteering at the conference when the Indian president came to the Netherlands."
The Student Ambassador Network, AIESEC, Best, DISS, Interdelft, IAESTE, Students 4 sustainability and ESN also have their office here. The ESN is specially for Erasmus exchange students. “Students used to come for short exchanges. Now they do whole courses and stay here for two years or more,” Berend says. “A big difference between the Dutch and the internationals is that the Dutch get together for a drink every week while the internationals have one big party every now and then. It would be great if Dutch students came to these international parties.” DUWO is organising a festival on 5 October to celebrate the opening of Mijnbouwplein.