Courses for Bachelor students

Farewell Addres prof. Joy Clancy December 8th, 2023 (Remark: first 10 minutes people entering the room)

CSTM offers a number of opportunities for Bachelor students to incorporate sustainability issues into their studies and to broaden their horizon by going abroad for internships.

Bachelor courses

CSTM researchers are involved in the following courses, which are part of various Bachelor programmes:

Minor: Innovations in Sustainable Chain Management

The central theme of this minor is improving the production and consumption chains from the perspective of societal challenges (3P 'People-Planet-Profit' perspective). It is one of the University of Twente's 'High Tech, Human Touch' (HTHT) minors which aim to illuminate specific societal themes for which the UT develops solutions. More information is available in the course brochure (PDF).

Courses:
Innovations in Sustainable Chain Management: Analysis (202001438)
Innovations in Sustainable Chain Management: Design (202001418)

Minor: Crossing Borders

This minor offers students opportunities to gain international experience by going abroad for a field study, a study tour, or by working from the Netherlands with international partners. Where possible, the students’ study background will be connected to the international project that they will carry out. More information on the objectives and structure of the minor Crossing Borders is available on the minor's website.

Take a look at the stories of some Bachelor students who went abroad for their internships with the help of CSTM:

  • Argentina
    • Lekotek - Buenos Aires, Argentina

      I spend the last 3,5 months in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There, in a poorer part of town called Barracas, I worked in the small NGO Lekotek. My host organization is working with children with and without disabilities and their families and chose to play as their way to promote the social inclusion of its members. To me, it was a great experience because the staff of Lekotek and also the families were very welcoming and interested. Working in this organization, I did not only improve my Spanish but was also able to get to know the Argentinean culture.

      Traveling to Argentina is something I would recommend to everybody since Argentina does not only offer every climate from sub-tropical to polar and beautiful landscapes, but also an open-minded population and a culture rich in diversity I would not have wanted to miss.

  • Bonaire
    • Jong Bonaire - Bonaire

      Starting November 26 I spent two months of the island of Bonaire. This is an island that is located close to Venezuela, and her neighboring islands, Aruba and Curaçao. I did research at a youth center called Jong Bonaire. The main aim of my research there was to examine how an app could contribute to the enhancement of awareness of teens of job possibilities, therefore bringing the supply and demand of competences more together. This corresponds to Sustainable Development Goal 8, dealing with Decent Work and Economic Growth, as their targets focus on enhancing the employment and education of youth. I performed interviews with companies to gain a better view on what competences are needed from the youth in their eyes. Furthermore, I performed focus groups with the youth at Jong Bonaire to see whether the youth is aware of all current job possibilities and if an app could offer a solution in raising awareness on this topic.

      With my background of being a Creative Technologist, the creation of an app concept seemed like the logical choice. In the end, the research was more centered around the interviews and focus groups to gather the information for the app. The focus was different than what I am used to from Creative Technology, but I think it was good to have come in contact with this type of research before starting my bachelor’s thesis.

      Living on an island like Bonaire was in ways strangely similar to living in the Netherlands, and in other ways totally different. The official language of the country was Dutch, so often I could easily communicate with the local people. However, my target group, the teens of Jong Bonaire, often did not speak Dutch or English. Their common tongue was Papiamentu, which created a language barrier between me and them. Also the gap between rich inhabitants, often from the Netherlands, and the poor local people was bigger than anticipated. The wages at the island are really low, although the prices of food and houses are extremely high. The standard was that a whole family would live together in one house, you should not be surprised to find 20 people living in the same house.

      Although life was expensive on the island, I really enjoyed the beautiful, well-preserved, nature. I would definitely recommend going to Bonaire. I have met amazing people and have seen the most beautiful places. I learned a lot about myself and how to work in a working situation abroad. If you have any more questions about my experiences you can always contact me via e-mail: f.t.a.kuipers@student.utwente.nl

  • Brazil
    • Mais Caminhos - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

      Mais Caminhos is an NGO in Rio de Janeiro that works with the children from the communities (favelas) Cantagalo and Pavão–Pavãozinho. They provide complementary education and tutoring, as well as field trips, a summer and a winter programme for the holidays, and exchanges to other countries. The children from the communities are usually accustomed to a lot of violence in their daily life, and with Mais Caminhos, located in a language school in Ipanema, they have the possibility to learn and be children in a safe space. During my field work, I taught English in the Complementary Education Programme, gave tutoring lessons, and helped organizing the summer programme. I conducted a field study about the learning environment and the concrete strategies that NGOs can apply to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal of Quality Education.

      I value the experience a lot - it was challenging, but very rewarding to work with the children, and the work that Mais Caminhos does is incredible. I learned a lot, and will always be grateful for my time with the NGO. Further, I greatly enjoyed the time in Rio de Janeiro, the ‘’Cidade Maravilhosa’’ (marvelous city) - I got to know amazing people, learned Portuguese, discovered the city and the amazing Brazilian culture, and learned a lot about the world, life, and myself.

    • Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná - Curitiba, Brazil

      The minor “Crossing Borders” offered me a study abroad experience which I’ll never forget! I have spent two months in Curitiba, Brazil, where I researched the mobility of students at one of the biggest universities in the city. I have learned a lot about transportation in the city and sustainable development goals and it was super fun to get to know a new culture.

      I choose this minor because many people I know we’re going to or had spent time studying abroad and I had only heard positive stories. What I really liked about this minor is that you gain experience in a self-chosen domain instead of just following courses at an university. When I came to Brazil I did not know any Portuguese and since almost everyone in my house didn’t speak English, so I also have learned a new language! I have become a lot more independent than I was before and have come to love the Brazilian culture. The way they express themselves, how open and kind they are and of course the food (rice and beans every day).

      Something that really struck me was the inequity in the country. The difference between the rich and poor is very visible everywhere you go. Women with children weaving bowls at the side of the street, men pulling huge carts collecting trash and a lot of homeless people. This made me more aware of the privilege that we have in the Netherlands and it made more grateful for my education, friends, family and possessions. This especially made this experience so good, because you learn more about the world and about yourself!

  • Gambia
    • No Health Without Mental Health - Gambia

      In the course of the minor crossing borders, I went to the Gambia in West Africa and worked with the organisation No Health Without Mental Health (NHWMH). NHWMH focuses on the mental health by building awareness among the citizens in the Gambia to reduce stigma, by supporting the only inpatient unit Tanka Tanka, and by raising donations for the mental health area. I was working in the psychiatric clinic Tanka Tanka; my tasks were mainly to engage in patient talks, to organise activities for the patients and to discuss cases with the other nurses. Moreover, twice a week I was working in the mental health office, which is organising programmes to concerning mental health in the whole country, so that I was able to visit a traditional healer who is working with mentally ill people for example. In general, I enjoyed my time in the Gambia a lot: I got to know a lot of interesting and impressive people, saw a lot of the country in terms of nature and traditions, and felt safe and home the whole time. The members of the organisation showed me a lot of the country and integrated me quite well into their community.

  • Ghana
    • Primary school - Ghana

      My trip to Ghana to teach children in primary school was really valuable. This trip was completely outside my comfort zone, but I am really glad that through Crossing Borders, I decided to do this. Ghana offers a culture and customs that are a major difference from the Dutch culture and it was fascinating to experience it all.

      Living with other volunteers from different countries, such as Germany, France, the US and the United Kingdom, was also really nice and we celebrated a few holidays together: Thanksgiving, Sinterklaas and Christmas.

      Because there was no school during the Christmas break, I was able to travel around the country with a few other volunteers. Ghana is very diverse: from going on a safari in the north, to surfing on the coast and experiencing colonial history, it is all possible! I would definitely recommend traveling around to experience different parts of the country, as Ghana is quite big.

      Overall, spending over three months in Ghana was an amazing experience!

  • Indonesia
    • Gili Trust Eco - Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

      Doing the Crossing Borders minor in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, was a once in a lifetime experience. The nature is amazing, the people are friendly, the vibe is all in all relaxed and very calm. In the pictures below is my everyday view of the sunset, which is a 10-minute bike ride. There is also the family that hosted us at their homestay: in the picture they invited us for dinner during Christmas.

      The picture on the bottom right was during our hike at mount Rinajni, in Lombok. This took us about 2 days, and we did it together with other volunteers and friends from back home in The Netherlands, that were in the area for the holidays.

      The last picture on the bottom left is a picture of what we were doing during our project. This was a place where different shops placed there rubbish in order for the garbage men to pick it up next morning.

      All in all it was a great experience which I am very grateful had the chance to experience!


       

    • Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre 1 - Indonesia

      The crossing borders minor provided me with the awesome opportunity to conduct a field study in Indonesia with my best friend. We divided our time between volunteering in an animal rehabilitation center and performing activities for the field study. For the field study, we designed and made an educational game. We used this game to figure out if game-based learning could affect the attitude of the local communities towards deforestation. We visited a local school and played the game with the children, which was an unique experience. For the volunteering work, we helped with maintaining rescued and confiscated animals. The host-organisation, Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre, focused on rehabilitating these animals with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. It was really rewarding work and an experience I will not soon forget. For the field study as well as the volunteering work, we had to work closely with locals and we got to experience the Indonesian culture. These once-in-a-lifetime experiences changed my outlook on the world and I learned a lot of things on an academic level as well as on a personal level.

      Crossing borders in an opportunity you should seize with both hands.

          

    • Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre 2 - North Sulawesi, Indonesia

      Together with my best friend, I went to North Sulawesi, Indonesia, to teach children about the forest and the consequences of deforestation by means of a self-made game. We tested whether the knowledge and concern on the topic increased using questionnaires. The children filled in the same questionnaire before and after playing the educational game. When we compared both questionnaires, small improvements were measurable. We expect that the effect will be larger when the target group plays the game more often. Besides working on the field study assignment, we enjoyed some unforgettable excursions in the surroundings. Amongst others, we visited a waterfall, walked on a volcano, and swam with enormous turtles.

        

      I learned a lot during my stay abroad. First of all, I gained knowledge in setting up a research and writing an academic report about it. Next to that, I learned a lot about the topic of our field study: deforestation, and the associated SDGs. What was also of interest to me, are the cultural differences I’ve experienced and the things I learned about myself by immersing myself into an unfamiliar context.

      Another way to describe what our stay in Indonesia was like:

      • I got a few sunburns, but I skipped the horrible Dutch cold winter.
      • I cut seagrass by hand which felt like a really useless activity, but I had no stress during my time abroad.
      • I walked for hours in the jungle wearing inappropriate outfits (flipflops, shorts, and a sunflower blouse), but I saw the most amazing views.
      • I missed friends and family at home, but I met amazing new people.
      • There were giant spiders in our beds, but I’m over my fear for animals with more than four legs now.
      • 'Normal’ toilets like we are used to were extremely rare, but I’m a pro at dealing without them now.

      Everything together belongs to my most precious memories until now and is surely something I will not soon forget.

    • WINS Foundation Bali - Indonesia

      The minor program ‘crossing borders’ gave me the opportunity to conduct a field study abroad in a developing country to make a positive change towards the sustainable development goals, set up by the United Nations. Because I had the free choice to which goal I want to connect my work, I chose to work for a foundation which aims to improve the quality of education in Indonesia because I am especially interested in working with children. I stayed in Bali (Indonesia) from December 2019 till January 2020 and worked for the WINS foundation. The foundation aims to support children who do not have the financial means to afford an education and special needs children who usually would not have the chance to education.

      During my field study, it was my task to teach English to the children with assistance of Indonesian teachers. I taught the children who were aged between 7 and 14 how to use the English grammar and how to have a conversation. Additionally, I taught them things such as morning hygiene or punctuality. With the time, I recognized an enhancement in their English skills but also in their everyday behaviour.

      Because the learning outcomes of the children on Bali have space for improvement, I conducted a study to find out how to improve the performance of the kids. More specifically, I investigated whether yoga might have a positive impact on learning effectiveness. The results were presented to the local teachers at the end of my stay. The time in the school was a blessing to me because it made me realize that everything is relative and that you can be much happier with so much less. The children gave so much back. Because I worked together with the local teachers, I got introduced into the Balinese culture very well. I will never forget this experience and am very thankful that my studies offered me the chance to take part in this program.

    • WINS Foundation Bali 2 - Indonesia

      As part of my Psychology programme I participated in the minor Crossing Borders and stayed abroad for three and a half months. My fellow student and I went to the small village Tianyar in Bali and worked there voluntarily as English teachers for the WINS foundation Bali. Our accommodation was much better than initially expected and was located directly at the beach wherefore we always ate breakfast with an amazing and unforgettable view. We lived there with many other volunteers from all over the world. At some point we were only 8 volunteers but mostly we were a lot more than that. From Friday to Sunday we had time to travel and to discover the beautiful island.

      From Monday to Thursday we had to teach 3 hours in the afternoon and spent approximately 1 hour to prepare classes. My fellow student and I got two classes each, with 16 children per class that were six to twelve years old. The first time I stood in front of the class I was really overwhelmed and afraid about the teaching because I did not have any teaching experience. I remember that after my first day I was ready to quit and to change to a different programme that would not include teaching. However, after a few days I got more and more ideas about the teaching and I started to develop a close relationship with the children. I started to enjoy preparing classes every morning and saw satisfactory results only after a few weeks. To see the kids happy and excited when I walked into the classroom was a very nice and fulfilling feeling for me and I will never forget how happy they made me. The teaching itself helped me to discover a creative side that I did not know about myself and I am grateful about that experience.

      Although the overall experience was great and I would always do it again, the beginning was rather difficult. My friend and I both needed some time to adjust to the culture and the people and were quite shocked when many Balinese people were unfriendly and only seemed to care about money. This was mainly the case because we started our trip in Kuta, the south of Bali, which is a part that is very touristic. The culture and friendliness we expected to encounter has disappeared in that area, which gave us a negative first impression. However, once we arrived in Tianyar we realized that it takes some time and effort until the people open up and invite you to learn about their lives and believes. Once, we established rapport with the people, we developed close relationships with the people and the children.

      Thus, the overall crossing borders experience was very unforgettable and full of different experiences. Although we also encountered challenges throughout our stay, I gained a lot for myself as well as insights into the Balinese culture that I will never forget.

        

  • Malta
    • Embassy - Malta

      As part of the "Crossing Borders" minor, I spent three months doing an internship at the German Embassy in Valletta. Malta is a small island state south of Italy and has been a member of the EU since 2004.

      During my internship, I was not only able to gain valuable work experience in an embassy, but also to extremely expand my personal network. As a delegate at various conferences on topics such as sustainability, economic development as well as migration and equality, I learned a lot and made many new contacts.

      Besides work, there was also time to discover the exciting and diverse culture of Malta, spend a day at the beach or watch a Maltese football match. The people are super friendly and warm, and I made many new friends.

      It made me proud to be able to represent my home country abroad. Overall, the internship and the minor were a unique experience that I enjoyed very much and will not forget

            

    • Future Focus 1 - Malta

      As part of the "Crossing Borders" minor, I spent three months doing an internship at the German Embassy in Valletta. Malta is a small island state south of Italy and has been a member of the EU since 2004.

      During my internship, I was not only able to gain valuable work experience in an embassy, but also to extremely expand my personal network. As a delegate at various conferences on topics such as sustainability, economic development as well as migration and equality, I learned a lot and made many new contacts.

      Besides work, there was also time to discover the exciting and diverse culture of Malta, spend a day at the beach or watch a Maltese football match. The people are super friendly and warm, and I made many new friends.

      It made me proud to be able to represent my home country abroad. Overall, the internship and the minor were a unique experience that I enjoyed very much and will not forget

      During my stay I enjoyed exploring the islands of Malta and discovered incredible places! This consisted of both diverse restaurants, cultural places and nature sceneries. I learned a lot about Malta’s history and know much more about their culture now.

      Crossing borders helped me with getting to know myself and my ambitions better. Next to that, it really contributed to discovering a new culture and learning all kinds of skills in a different way than by following a regular course. I really recommend following crossing borders if you are looking for a great adventure.

    • Future Focus 2 - Malta

      My crossing borders experience: 

      I went to Malta for three months for an internship with my friend Cindy. We worked as interns at an international school, named Newark school. Here we helped out the PE teacher and we gave some classes in exercise and theory, which was really fun to do. The children ages ranged between 5 and 16 years old which made the work very diverse. We learned a lot about the Maltese culture, but also about other cultures because of all the different nationalities of the students at the school, like Russian, French, Korean, Libyan, and so on. Next to our internship we had to do a research. We researched the happiness level of the students during different types of exercise, namely the PE lessons and a sports day.

      Besides working, we had a more than enough time to explore the beauty of the Maltese islands. The island is very diverse and there is a lot to do, as you can see in the pictures. Malta has another culture than the Netherlands and what I am used to. They are not as punctual and are more laid back. I really learned how to adapt to another culture and how to deal with that.

      I learned a lot during this minor. I gained a lot of international experience, learned how to teach a class and be confident about that and I improved my English. I am really happy I did this minor!

          

       

  • Nepal
    • Gravity Water - Nepal

      For the crossing borders minor we were looking for an assignment in the direction of our study Industrial Design engineering. We were also interested in sustainable development goal 6, about clean water and sanitation. In the end, we found the organisation Gravity Water. It is a U.S. based non-profit organisation. They have projects in Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. Their mission is to turn rain into safe drinking water for schools in need around the world.

      Our assignment was to design a handwashing station and infographic for schools in Nepal as an extension of their current system. Unfortunately, due to the covid-19 situation, it was not possible for us to go to Nepal and we also didn't feel comfortable with it. Even though, we did not actually go abroad, we had an amazing international experience! We got to learn a lot about Nepal and the organisation Gravity Water. We also had a lot of online meetings with the executive director/founder and national director of Nepal.

      Next to the design of the handwashing station we also conducted a field study research about the design elements of an educational infographic and how to design for the Nepali culture in particular. It was very interesting to learn how radically different the dutch culture is compared to the Nepali culture. The infographic explains the importance of hygiene to children in Nepal and will help explain how to use the handwashing station. In the image below you can see our final design of the handwashing station together with the educational infographic. We learned a lot about how to perform research, so it was a good preparation for our bachelor assignment.

      What we liked most about this assignment was that we could really help people and contribute to solving the SDG. Since the assignment was in the direction of our study, we could use our expertise to help. It is exciting to know that our final design and recommendation will be considered when the actual construction will be built a few months after concluding the crossing borders minor. We really enjoyed the responsibility that was given to us by Gravity Water.

    • Free Volunteering Nepal

      For my internship of the minor Crossing Border I travelled to Nepal. Most of my time there I spent in the capitol Kathmandu, but also some time in the rural village Mulpani and in the Himalayas.

      I can only recommend my host organization “Free Volunteering Nepal”, which will soon turn into “Sharing Hearts”. This small organization works in many different fields, from education over gender equality to water sanitization. My research there was about resilience and academic differences in

      Nepal’s educational sector.

      Nepal is a beautiful country, but it needs help in many ways. During my stay there I saw things that really changed my view of the Sustainable Development Goals and I am sure everyone who stays there for a few months will feel the same way. Living in a country like Nepal for longer periods of time is hard but rewarding.

      Yet, you who are reading this, probably don't care too much about what I did there, but more about whether or not to choose this minor or go to Nepal. Well, the answer to that question is quite simple.

      If you want to experience the life in a developing country first-hand, help where help is

  • Peru
    • Esperanza Canina - Peru

      A glimpse into the daily routine at the dog shelter of Huanchaquito.

      In the morning I would wake up at 8 am, put on the dirties and stinkiest clothes I find, grap a banana and slip into my hiking boots. Running down the stairs of the apartment, I would find pongo the black stray dog tail-wagging in front of the door. Goldy and me Accompany me and the other volunteer to the bus station and trying to grap the water bottles out of our hands in a playful manner. Driving 5 min with the bus along the beach, observing the surfers catching the morning waves, I start searching for one soles and scream “bajar control” from the back of the bus in order to get off. At the street, Marjolein the founder would wait and we would walk uphill, passing by a Bodega grabbing each of us a 20 Kg food package on our bag and facing the big black gate in front of us. Soon we would hear loud barking drowning our morning conversations. Getting into the shelter, grabbing a stick and going straight into the  main area, where Luna, Tinki, Goldy and the others make it hard to walk through by giving us a good morning hug.

      Fast the tasks are divided, and everybody starts to go to his/her assigned area. Not even in the cage  Bonney, one of the smallest dogs will jump right into your face without asking for permission. If I have been awake enough to react and catch her, she would hug me like there is no other morning. Trying to start cleaning the area the ugliest dog of the shelter Violetta would sit in her funniest position trying to make it impossible for me to empty the waterboxes. Also, Tina one of the puppies, isn’t a great help when cleaning the carpets. She tries to grab the brush in a playful  manner and wouldn’t let it go. Almost finished to clean the carpets, charmful princessa tries to catch your attention with her beautiful eyelashes. She knows that nobody is able to resist her lovely look. Thus, she receives a tons of cuddle strokes through her hair that feels as soft as she has just fallen into a pot of hair conditioner. Meanwhile, me and the other volunteers would start a conversation about the last night out, but soon would be interrupted by the famous vocalist in the shelter: Bayer. Making all day long the prettiest sounds, by laying in the entry of the cage. Done with the cleaning, the feeding follows. Preparing 60 food cups for 60  hungry dogs isn’t the easiest task. Surprisingly all of the dogs know their names and would therefore patently wait for their portion to be served on the ground. Which I personally find very impressive. While Tomi takes ages to eat, Marley would already sneak around and try to steal something of his mates. In the meanwhile, Dude, the tallest dog of the shelter has finished his meal and is ready for the couch. The couch in this sense will be my lab. As soon as you sit down, he will come to sit on your lab pretending to be a chihuahua lab dog. 

      Pisco and Pablo would sneak in between and try to get off one or two cuddles.

      After everyone has finished the food, its time say goodbye and to return in the afternoon for a quick check up. In the afternoon everybody would lay around lazy in the most comfortable position. The waterboxes will be filled up again and the dogs that are the most likely to start a fight will be locked in an extra cage. For an unknown reasons Mama Princessa the smartest dog of the shelter, loves those cages and tries with her special techniques to open them. Well and sometimes she succeeds. Covered in hair and poo it’s time to return to Huanchaco, hoping that nobody starts to fight and that the next day will be a ‘lets go out for a doggy beach walk day’.

          Sunny

  • Philippines
    • Volunteers for the Visayans - Philippines

      Experiencing the crossing borders module was one of the best choices I made throughout my studies. Moreover, I enjoyed my time staying in the Philippines. Even though it is located in Asian the culture differs from others Asian countries. This is due to the strong influence by the US.

      Deciding to go with the organisation ‘Volunteers for the Visayans’ was contributing so much to this positive experience. Not only did I have a volunteer centre which offered me support and advice but also, I stayed in the best local family which was preparing traditional meals for me and cared for me as one of theirs. Regardless of the fee I paid, I felt secure and I had people who could help me.

      My local project was focused in a woman shelter which helps women who suffered abuse and  domestic violence, besides this women with drug related cases are admitted to stay. All women are staying in the shelter for their own security and for the time their cases are still in court. However, the NGO I was staying with offers more projects like nutrition, teaching, nursing, working in an orphanage and in a rehabilitation for boys which were convicted of crimes. Moreover, the organisation is involved in additional help. Staying here over Christmas made me see their involvement in the different placements when accompany the gift giving and a Christmas party for sponsored children-which were rescued by the company from the local dumpsite.

      During my stay, I decided to help within the women shelter and, in the afternoon, I was helping in the orphanage. Still, I had the time for some travelling and meeting other volunteers.  Different than I expected there were 5-13 other volunteers with whom, I could share my daily experiences. Moreover, Leyte, the island VFV is placed on- one of 7000 islands in the Philippines- is relatively central and has some beautiful spots for weekend tours. For the short amount of time, I experienced so much which made it hard to keep up with study chores. Still, it was doable and one of the best countries I have ever travelled to.

          

  • Portugal
    • ImpacTrip - Portugal

      I decided tto ake part in the Crossing Borders minor after all the amazing stories I’ve been hearing from different students. This minor was not only offering a chance to travel abroad but also the possibility to contribute to various humanitarian projects.  After researching about different destinations, I decided to join ImpacTrip and be a part of an organisation that supports children's education. This organisation is located in Portugal and more specifically in the suburbs of Lisbon. ImpacTrip is a hostel that accommodates volunteers from all around the world and at the same time offers them a variety of volunteering projects.

      In a few words, this minor deserves every little sacrifice. I met people from all around the world and we became very good friends by the end of my trip. I didn’t expect that meeting new cultures and exchanging ideas could be so much fun. We spent 3 hours daily in the project playing around with the children and trying to make our presence as impactful as possible. The rest of the day was all about having fun, visiting new places, learning about Lisbon and Portuguese culture. Since we were all staying in the same place, we were having all the meals of the day together and that helped to create stronger bonds between us.

      Concerning the children, I gained valuable lessons about their lives and they way the see the world and even though I was the one supposed to teach them, I learned how hard some people's lives could be if not treated with respect and love. These kids may come from different socio-economic backgrounds and poorly developed communities but they were an inspiration for all of the volunteers.

      To conclude, this trip turned out to be a lesson that would last a lifetime. I managed to become better in all different aspects of my life and especially I have improved my communication skills to the maximum. I would recommend this experience to anyone because it's not only a lifetime opportunity but also a lesson that no academic environment can teach you.

  • South Africa
    • Baby Hope - Durban, South Africa

      “For my field work for the Minor Crossing Borders, I volunteered for the NGO Baby Hope House, which is in Durban, South Africa. The Baby Hope House´s mission is to take care and provide abandoned children in the age of 0-24 months a temporary home until they will be adopted. The Baby Hope House ensures with great passion and empathy that the abandoned children receive everything children need to develop healthily and to live a happy life. During my time at the Baby Hope House I was able to gain so many valuable and beneficial experiences in working with newborns, babies and children. I could accompany the daily routines of the children. Next to my practical tasks I worked on my field study research that had the aim to investigate the underlying causes of child abandonment to design an intervention that will help to reduce these causes and to fight the high and rising rate of child abandonment in Durban. It was a highly beneficial experience to conduct my research within the country and to be onsite and witness the problem. The University of Twente offered great support in form of my supervisor, who was always there to assists with everything via emails from overseas and in form of the TMF, which was a huge financial support to fund the time in South Africa. I am so grateful for the time in South Africa and for everything I learned. I will definitely benefit from it and I can recommend everyone who is thinking to go aboard with the Crossing Borders Minor to do it because it will be an experience you will never forget.”

       

    • Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary - South Africa

      In the course of the minor programme “Crossing Borders” I went to South Africa and worked at the Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay for two months. Yes, you read that right – I worked at a snake sanctuary. Since I am a student of Psychology I carried out a study that aimed at finding out how people’s (often negative) attitudes towards snakes can be changed by the guided tours that are offered in the park. Improved attitudes towards snakes were believed to actually enhance people’s willingness to support snake conservation and therefore to contribute to our planet’s precious biodiversity.

      During my time in South Africa I met a lot of awesome people and even though I did not have the time  to travel and see much of the country itself I experienced a lot of things I will for sure never forget. The country is very diverse with regard to its nature and landscapes, culture, religion and so on. I actually barely met anyone without a migration background. This is really great because the people in South Africa are – no matter where they come from – all incredibly open-minded and friendly. Something that also made my stay a lot easier for me was that even though the country has got 11 official languages, the main language that is spoken by nearly everybody is English.

      I definitely enjoyed my time in South Africa and am already planning when to go there again. This country is for sure more than worth a visit and I left it with a lot of great memories and new friends that I would not want to miss.

      Spending Christmas Eve in South Africa

    • Solar Home System - Zululand, South Africa

      Since I have a broad interest in sustainable energy development, this was the focus of my Crossing Borders field study. My trip was to Zululand in South Africa, to work with NuRa Energy. NuRa installs Solar Home Systems for rural households where no electricity grid is present.

      NuRa’s customers are generally very poor, due to sub-par education, and high unemployment rates. The Solar Home System offers them electric lights, a phone charger, and the possibility to power a small radio and television. The main goal of my research was to assess the socioeconomic impact of the Solar Home Systems.

      To what extent does the Solar Home System make a positive impact on the people’s lives?

      The company NuRa was excellently accommodating for my arrival: they found me a good place to stay, provided me with a car, and did all the necessary things for me to complete my research. Of my two months I even spent about twenty days together with one of NuRa’s technicians to travel Kwa-Zulu Natal and interview customers. I also helped in the office, looking for improvements in their Solar Online Management System. Working with the South Africans was very pleasant, and the Zulu people were very welcoming. I even enjoyed a Zulu Christmas pool party!

      Apart from the work, I got to see the amazing natural beauty of Zuland, with its impressive mountain ranges, game parks, and hiking trails. I got the chance to see the famous big five, pet a wild elephant, scuba dive, and witness traditional Zulu dance. All in all, it was a fantastic and unique experience in which I saw both parts of South Africa: traditional, and western/touristic. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it!

  • Suriname
    • Green Heritage Fund, Suriname

      It was an honour to conduct my field study in the beautiful country of Suriname, comprising so much untouched nature, which personally meant a lot to me. Thinking about sustainability issues nowadays, it is of high value to experience a country where more than 80% of its landscape is still covered by forest. Concerning my field study, I worked together with the Green Heritage Fund Suriname which tries to save this nature and its inhabitants. They work on topics, such as wild life protection, biodiversity loss and the promotion of a sustainable use of our natural resources to counteract sustainability issues. It was a pleasure to see the different fields GHFS is working on and their integration enabled me to gain insights into their work concerning different challenges that need to be faced in Suriname. I learned that issues need to be faced when working on sustainability topics, that emerge specifically from local economical, cultural and governmental circumstances. Additionally, I learned a lot about myself and how to deal with different lifestyles, standards and values. That is why I would recommend everyone to conduct a field study in a developing country, focussing on the country’s challenges and opportunities. Through engaging in important reflection processes, you will learn a lot for yourself and the world.

       

  • Thailand
    • Mindfulness Project - Thailand

      As part of my minor “Crossing Borders” I joined the Mindfulness-Project Thailand. This project offers a volunteering program which is based on a mindful and sustainable way of living at a land in the middle of nature in the poorest region of Thailand. The project involves the volunteers in yoga, meditation, karma yoga, cooking, natural building, permaculture and teachings about Buddhism. In addition, every evening a talking circle is held in which everyone, including the team, has the opportunity to share their life stories and struggles.

      Within my stay at the project I was involved in the daily life of the project and all of their activities such as the talking circle. Furthermore, I researched into the concepts of mindfulness and happiness and their relation towards each other. Correspondingly, I created pre- and posttest questionnaires which I had the volunteers fill in upon their arrival and ten days into their stay. Therefore, I was able to gain a greater insight into the development of mindfulness and happiness levels within volunteers at the project.

      The most outstanding aspect of this project was the loving, caring and non-judgmental community everyone was part of. The project is a place in which everyone is involved in gaining a deeper insight into oneself with support of a mindful community. It was amazing to see as well as experience myself under what circumstances, that were super basic living conditions e.g. bucket showers, people can be their happiest and most content versions of themselves. I should outline that the first weeks I had a hard time settling in at the project because I first, had to adapt to the basic living conditions. Second, I had to find a balance between being involved within the project which simultaneously meant to be involved in introspection, while also conducting research. Not easy tasks by themselves already!

      Nonetheless, the project was one of the most wonderful and changing experiences I made. I was able to be involved in a project that creates a space for people to develop themselves and work through their struggles while promoting a sustainable lifestyle. It offered me a way to watch and be part of peoples healing as well as heal myself. The project was the most healing, loving, happy, exciting and of course, mindful experience I ever made and I am beyond grateful to have been able to connect this with my studies.

    • Monk school - Bang-Pa-In, Thailand

      In my case the minor crossing borders focused on the sustainable development goal “quality education”. A fellow student and I taught English at a monk school in Bang-Pa-In, Thailand. We taught students from 8 to 20 years and prepared some of the students for an English competition. The monk school in Bang-Pa-In works together with the organization “Volunteer English Bangkok”. This is a Non-governmental, non-profit organization that focuses mainly on helping Thai students with low English proficiency to improve their English skills by bringing volunteers to their schools. My study focused mainly on increasing the motivation of students to learn English to help the local teachers for the long-term. The research was also enabled by the teachers and students who were willing to cooperate with me which was very helpful and also necessary to some extent. The supervisor of the organization and the teachers were all very friendly and the students were always really excited and happy to do a lesson with a foreigner. 

      I can definitely recommend doing this minor. This experience taught me so much about the Thai way of living which is completely different from the way we live in the Netherlands. However, it also taught me so much about myself as a person and helped me to be able to reflect more about human behaviour and culture in general. Moreover, doing the field study helps to prepare for the bachelor thesis or master thesis later on.

       

    • Volunteer English - Bangkok, Thailand

      For my crossing boarders journey I chose to go to Thailand and support the organisation Volunteer English Bangkok. This non-profit organisation tries to improve the educational level of rural and public schools, which are the places for the very poor population of Thailand to receive their education. Thailand struggles with inequality in education, so the organisation tries to improve this problem. The focus of the organisation is on introducing and teaching students in a motivating and enjoyable way, by playing with the students and having conversations with them. The school that I was send to is the Wat Niwet Thammaprawat Tempel School in Bang Pa in, which is in the Ayutthaya region. It is about one and a half hours away from Bangkok and pretty central in Thailand. In the first picture one can see the temple that is working together with the school. The students have to pray in this temple every day. The school is just a hundred meter away from the temple. The school gives very poor students a chance to receive education. The teaching was a lot of fun. The students are very intersted when they can get to know other cultures and see how the world outside of Thailand looks like. Everyone was very friendly.