Project Week Gives Students Chance to Collaborate with Social Purpose Organisation
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences (WUAS) bachelor's students based in Apeldoorn participated in a project week conducted in partnership with the non-profit organisation ReachOut Education Support Foundation. The activity had the goal of developing the students’ professional skills and raising their awareness about social and global issues.
Additionally, the project aimed to promote and increase the visibility of ReachOut, an Apeldoorn-based non-profit that provides financial support for young people from Malawi to attend school, from secondary education to graduation. The foundation’s current chairman is former Wittenborg professor Dr Teun Wolters, who has remained connected to WUAS as an external marker and Emeritus Professor of Applied Sciences. A related project week was simultaneously developed at WUAS Amsterdam, with Entrepreneurial Business Administration (EBA) students.
In Apeldoorn, the activity involved students who are pursuing degrees in Marketing, Communication and Information (MCI), Hospitality Business Administration (HBA) and International Business Administration (IBA). After the kick-off session, which took place on 2 December, participants were divided into groups composed of four or five members. Some of the teams were also supported by mentors, recruited among students who had already participated in other project weeks, and who were responsible for helping the new, less experienced participants.
Between 12 and 17 December, the participants were engaged in a series of tasks such as making videos highlighting ReachOut’s work, updating the organisation’s website, gathering information on other foundations and promoting crowdfunding initiatives. By the end of the project, students were required to deliver a group presentation and a written report detailing their activities.
According to WUAS’ bachelor’s project week coordinator, Samantha Birdsall, the activity helped students develop multiple personal and professional competencies, such as team work and presentation skills. She highlighted that participants had the opportunity to get hands-on experience by collaborating with a real-life foundation. “They had the chance to learn more about different things, such as how to use crowdfunding, improve a website, make and edit videos and other skills that will be useful in their future careers. And they did this by collaborating with a foundation that has a social purpose, so their work will help other young people get access to education.”
Birdsall also mentions that many of the students took part in an in-person project week for the first time, after one and a half year of online activities. “Being there in person was a great way to practise their personal communication skills, and even learn how to dress properly for a business meeting,” she says.
ReachOut’s chairman, Dr Teun Wolters, complimented WUAS on the way it conducted its project weeks. “In both Apeldoorn and Amsterdam, the activities were dynamic and productive. The group from Apeldoorn was really big, and the school found creative ways to divide the participants into subgroups and assign them to specific tasks. The work done by these students will help increase ReachOut’s visibility and raise awareness among individual donors, while the Amsterdam project was focused on establishing partnerships with other organisations,” he stressed.
About the ReachOut Foundation
The ReachOut Education Support Foundation was founded in 2016, by Dr Teun Wolters, Jaap Smit and Gerda Smit. After Jaap and Gerda, who were also the organisation’s main donors, passed away in 2019, Wolters became the chairman of the foundation.
The foundation’s support focuses on the costs of schooling, which include school fees, boarding fees and the cost of travel from home to school and vice versa. In Malawi, the activities are supervised by the European Baptist Mission (EBM International), while the selection and monitoring of students take place in close cooperation with a steering committee chaired by Rev. Fletcher Kaiya.
Since the beginning of its activities, ReachOut has been able to help six students complete their studies, while two are still receiving support. Currently, the organisation is working to maintain and expand its activities, with plans to start providing assistance to two or three more students in the near future.
by Ulisses Sawczuk