Students visit Amsterdam for Change Agents programme

AUAS is hosting students from several European cities as part of the U!REKA Change Agents programmes

29 Mar 2023 20:24 | Communication

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is hosting students from several European cities this week as part of the U!REKA Change Agents programme. A number of students from the Ukrainian Odessa National Economic University (ONEU) are also taking part.

Lisa Chakir is currently studying Business Administration at the Mittweida University of Applied Sciences in Germany. "In March 2022, I went to Germany on my own. My family is still in Odessa. They don't want to leave; my father has lived in Odessa all his life. Fortunately, it is relatively quiet there now. It's not good there, but it's not getting worse either."

The U!REKA Change Agents programme offers students from across Europe the chance to work together on sustainability issues. This is the second time U!REKA has offered the programme, which this year focuses on creating public awareness about the sustainable use of water in European cities.

Part of the programme is a week-long visit to Amsterdam during which the students will learn about initiatives designed to make the city more sustainable. On Wednesday the students visited the sustainable initiative incubator De Ceuvel in Amsterdam Noord and the Bubble Barrier in the Westerdok, where the water board and the municipality are working on innovative ways to prevent plastic from the canals ending up in the North Sea.

The week in Amsterdam was organised by the Digital Society School in collaboration with AUAS U!REKA coordinator Dymphna Snijders Block. "With the Change Agents programme, we give students from the AUAS and U!REKA partners the opportunity to work together on innovative solutions for complex sustainability issues. Using methods such as design thinking and inspiration sessions we encourage students from diverse backgrounds and degree programmes to become a Change Agent. This year’s programme brings together students of social work, architecture, business, IT and digital design from Frankfurt, Helsinki, Ghent, Odessa and Amsterdam."

The group of European students

Lisa is enthusiastic about visiting Amsterdam. "I had a bit of culture shock when I arrived at the AUAS - in a positive sense. It's so big, it's like a shopping centre." The fact that Lisa is now gaining so much experience abroad is not only due to the war in her home country. "I wanted to study abroad anyway, which is why I learnt English and German. However, I would like to return to Odessa in a few years if I can."

The students will present their findings at the Digital Society School at the end of the week. The fact that students from Ukraine are also participating this year is thanks to the cooperation agreement that the AUAS, as coordinator of U!REKA, signed in October last year with the University of Odessa.

In the coming months, the two institutions plan to expand cooperation in different areas. "It's great that this group of students will be the first to reap the benefits of this cooperation, and that the students from Odessa will also have access to other partners in the U!REKA network," says AUAS Rector Geleyn Meijer.