Read the interview with Ty Nijbroek

Eurekaweek modernises: more sustainable, more focus on wellbeing and more inclusive

All the food is vegetarian, everywhere students are pointed to a helpdesk for mental…

In the long queue outside the entrance to the festival on the Van Zandvlietplein, Tristan is chatting with his fellow group members. Their group is very international, the French student tells us. Amalie hails from Italy, Sarah is a Tunisian Dane, and Katja is Dutch Ukrainian. “No one feels excluded,” Amalie adds. “Everyone is friendly, no one’s prejudiced, and they all accept you just the way you are.”

Dutch songs during the cantus

The group of Anna, an American, is sitting in a circle on the Schouwburgplein having brunch.  She also feels completely at home. “I love Holland,” she says. “Everything is awesome here. I don’t want to go home anymore.” The only time they felt a little bit left out was when some Dutch songs were sung during the cantus, jokes her fellow group member Kornelia. “They went on and on, those Dutch songs!” the Polish student goes on to say. “But it was really good fun, it also gives us a small taste of Dutch culture.”

Eurekaweek duurzaam en inclusief Feba foto weet ik niet (1)
Anna (standing, third from left) and her group on Schouwburgplein. Image credit: Ali Alshamayleh

Not far from the group, second-year psychology student Kushi is checking the wristbands of the participants. She missed her chance to attend the Eurekaweek last year and had to remain in her home country of Oman during the introduction week due to corona. “That’s why I’m happy to volunteer this year. I want to experience the week, but then as part of the organisation.” How is she finding it? “Really enjoyable. The board is made up of Dutch students, but they speak English well and make sure that all communication is in English.”

Adapted routes

Eurekaweek board member Inge Straat confirms this. “We have lots of international crew members, and we just love that the team is so diverse.” Did they consciously choose to recruit internationals? “In the first instance, we obviously look mainly at what their motivation is for applying and if they will really enjoy coming to help out at Eurekaweek.”

Still, Eurekaweek has taken a big step forward where inclusivity is concerned, Straat emphasises. “For example, we have been brainstorming with the D&I office and multicultural clubs about the different kinds of activities. We also drew up adapted routes for the City Game. We offer a variety of activities: laser gaming, a party at Annabel, a canal cruise. So, there is something for everyone. We’ve also made sure that our programmes are accessible to everyone.”

Welfare booth

Eurekaweek also takes the well-being of participants into account. Straat: “We can imagine that the week can be experienced as quite intense after two years of corona. So, in order to give them a slightly softer place to land, we provide a ‘welfare booth’ at events. It’s very low-key, so if there’s anything the matter, you can just drop in to catch your breath, for example, and chat to one of us about any issues you might have.”

Angelique, first-year IBA student, thinks it is a good thing that this option is available, but also has her reservations about it. “I don’t know if Eurekaweek is good timing when it comes to providing help for mental health, because you’re always on the move. You can’t just leave your group to go to a helpdesk and let them know that you’re having a tough time,” she says. Her fellow group member Malia adds with a laugh: “We don’t even have enough time to go to the toilet properly.”

Wasted food

Eurekaweek duurzaam en inclusief Feba foto weet ik niet (2)
Empty soft drink bottles were collected again at the brunch. Image credit: Ali Alshamayleh

Sustainability is another top priority for the organisation. Eurekaweek participant Mikki (Law) says that in place of disposable cups, they are given a cup that they can give back after the event. No plastic straws or disposable packaging are used, she points out. “We get bottled soft drinks during brunch, for example. We then put the empty bottles back into the crate.” Is she happy with all the disposable cans of Red Bull and Desperados 0.0? “Well, they do come in handy on the go,” she admits.

Student Sarah has some criticisms about the food. “If they want to be more sustainable, maybe they should serve better food, so people won’t throw away the sandwiches after one bite. The food is so awful that I have to bring my own.” But we don’t have to worry about leftover sandwiches, Straat notes. “Anything left over, we donate to the Salvation Army. So, nothing goes to waste.”