It is 5 o’clock in the morning when master’s student Shellan Saling opens her eyes. She doesn’t mind getting up so early and taking the train to Schiphol Airport. “I’m going to pick up a new student,” she explains in a vlog. The ISS has a pick-up service. Students from the institute in The Hague personally welcome their new fellow students at Schiphol. “I am what they call someone from the ‘old batch’, which means I have been studying here since last year,” Shellan clarifies. “Old batch students help the new batch by picking them up when they arrive at Schiphol, among other things.”

When Shellan arrives at Schiphol Airport, Pía Cisternas is already waiting in the arrival hall. Pía is taking Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies and is very happy that Shellan is coming to pick her up. “For my mother especially, it’s a very nice idea that someone will be there to lead the way in a faraway foreign country,” she says.

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Quarantine is mandatory

Shellan and Pía go straight from Schiphol Airport to the ISS. Up the stairs, turn left and that’s where you will find the hidden treasure of the building: the Butterfly Bar. The meeting place for ISS students; although during the corona crisis it is primarily the ‘kitchen’ of owner Sandy Kamerling and alumna María Angélica Nieto.

For international students who have just arrived in The Hague, Sandy Kamerling is a guardian angel. These students have to stay in quarantine for five to ten days, so she and her team prepare breakfast and lunch during the quarantine period to help take the burden off the new students.

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Downstairs in the hall, Sandy talks about how the new students enter the hall through the large door where they are immediately welcomed with a bag full of groceries. “Those bags are also reusable as laundry baskets,”Sandy says. “They contain shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, tea and coffee, and a few other things.” They do this so that the new students will not have to go to the supermarket during their time in quarantine.

A fantastic gesture

Besides the groceries, the students will receive breakfast and lunch every day throughout their quarantine. “We want to make the students feel at home that way,” says alumna María as she spreads sandwiches with butter. Social Justice Perspectives master’s student Ezinne Aninwe has finished her quarantine period. She really liked Sandy’s initiative, she told us. “I didn’t know how to arrange it all, so I thought it was very thoughtful and sweet of them. It’s a fantastic gesture.”

 

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