Stories#096 Lucas’ international theatre show

#096 Lucas’ international theatre show

The story of Janet’s StargAzing TechnIque is a story of Lucas’ international theatre show

Lucas is 22 and is doing his master's in Business Administration and his master's in psychology. Last year he was president of the Erasmus Student Network Twente (ESN), a foundation that works for international students. ESN organises all kinds of activities and represent international students in university policymaking. For example, when it comes to housing. That’s music to the ears of globetrotter and researcher Janet Xue.

Click for Dutch version

Monday 14 November 2022 

The world awaits outside your comfort zone

Janet: ‘Why did you become president of the ESN?’

Lucas: ‘I did a master's degree in Business Administration, but I didn't like my specialisation. I was already enrolled in all the basic subjects, so I wanted to do something on the side. I like the international community. The atmosphere that other nationalities and cultures bring. I wanted to commit myself to that. ESN wants to make sure that international students feel at home at UT, have a nice college experience and can also settle here.’

Janet: ‘What are you most proud of?’

Lucas: ‘I think that's Sports Monday, an event we introduced last year. Every Monday we  organised clinics in different sports. It’s not easy for international students to find a suitable sport and to join sports associations. During one of the first Sports Mondays, a beach volleyball team was formed. It has become a close-knit group of friends. That’s exactly what the ESN stands for. We make it possible for people to meet and build relationships.’

“ESN wants to make sure that international students feel at home at UT, have a nice college experience and can also settle here”
Lucas Damen

Janet: ‘I totally get that. I was also an international student once, so I understand the problem. What do you think is the most important problem we need to solve for international students?’

Lucas: 'There’s still quite a difference between Dutch and international students. Not all (sports) associations are ready for it, or are only doing internationalisation 'because it’s mandatory’. I’ve noticed that for many international students, I’m the first Dutch person they meet and that takes the time for them. And then, of course, there’s the housing problem. It’s twice as hard for international students to find a place to live. Partly because student houses with only Dutch people are still reluctant to take in someone from another country.’ 

Janet: ‘What do Dutch students think about international students?’

Lucas: ‘That depends on who you ask. My soccer club, for example, is very international and inclusive. But there are also students who want to keep it Dutch. And they don't easily take in an international guest.’

Janet: ‘And what can we do about it?’

Lucas: ‘In my opinion, it works best if people experience for themselves what setting aside certain prejudices can do for you. Unknown makes unloved, it's that simple. And sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people. Once you do that, it results in beautiful encounters. Last year I invited Dutch students to an international party. Dutch students were allowed to enter for free, on condition that they had to stay for an hour. Most liked it a lot and closed the night off! That was an eye-opener.’

“Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people”
Lucas Damen

Janet: ‘Which place on campus do you recommend for international students?’

Lucas: 'Jeez… there are so many. But what comes to mind first are all associations. You can live on campus for years without ever getting bored. You can do all imaginable sports and participate in all kinds of cultural activities. I do notice that a lot of people aren’t aware of all the possibilities – let alone make use of them. Besides, the city also has internationally oriented cafes, such as the Update.’

Janet: ‘And I’ve also heard about an international comedy night. Can you tell me more about that?’

Lucas: ‘Yes, of course! That was in November. I've been working in the theater as a bartender for a few years now. Last year I did an internship there, and I was responsible for the marketing. I’m very interested in that, because it puts you at the intersection of communication and influencing behaviour. My assignment was to attract a more international audience. The problem is that most theatre performances are in Dutch. That's how I came up with the idea of an international comedy show. That was a great success, so I hope ESN will organise it again next year!’ 

Janet: ‘I hope so too. And then I'll be sure to check it out!’

Lucas Damen (2000)

is currently completing his master's degree in business administration and has started his pre-master's degree in Psychology. Lucas works as a bartender in the theatre, plays soccer and is very much into sports. In 2021 he was chairman of Erasmus Student Network Twente.

DR. JANET XUE

has – after a career in Sydney, Oxford, Stockholm, and Stuttgart, among others – settled down at the Fraunhofer Innovation Platform for Advanced Manufacturing. Her research focuses on Industry 5.0 and the social impact of artificial intelligence.