Meet & Greet session an important activity for Wittenborg
Wittenborg staff and new students were engaged in a virtual ‘Meet & Greet’ session via Teams on Wednesday, 13th May, 2020, for almost 2 hours, from 10:20 a.m. till just before 12:00 p.m. About 20 staff members and more than 30 new students from different parts of the world were present throughout the session.
The ‘Meet & Greet’ session is an activity which Wittenborg finds pertinent before classes begin, as students need to feel welcome right from the start of their courses. It is a critical benchmark for many students to sense the sentiments and mood of the culture of the institution they are joining. Furthermore, students who see that if their institutions bother to ‘meet and greet’, it also means that they also care about them personally, and this personal interest boosts their enthusiasm right from the start.
Students who participated were those from the Apeldoorn, Amsterdam and Munich campuses and they come from nearby countries like Albania and Germany and faraway places like Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Nigeria, Uganda, Vietnam and Iraq. This session is not just to introduce new students to staff, but also a chance for the new students to meet other students enrolled in the course, so they know they are not alone. This is a good chance to match names to faces and find out about their interests and expectations.
"Good morning, good afternoon and good evening to you all, from wherever you are in the world." Dr Rauf Abdul, Head of School of Business.
The session, led by Student Registrar Florian Oosterberg and hosted by Communications & Events Coordinator Nadia Zaman, as well as student representative Aleksandre Meparidze, was cheerful and optimistic with a tinge of humour from staff members as well as students.
Nadia Zaman started the ball rolling by requesting each staff member present to introduce themselves and they did it cheerfully, welcoming all the students and wishing them all the best in their studies. Head of School of Business Dr Rauf Abdul’s greeting of “Good morning, good afternoon and good evening” to the students reminded us of the different time zones the students are in. He also wrote in the chat, “It’s great to see an amazing and diverse group of students joining Wittenborg this block. Wish you all a wonderful experience and success. Looking forward to see you in my classes.”
Aleksandre then took over the spotlight, gave a few words of encouragement and then asked each individual student to introduce themselves and state one interesting thing about themselves.
It was heartening to know that this batch of students is made up of many creative, artistic and talented individuals, like Abdur Rahman Sayeed from Bangladesh who can play the piano, and Farnoosh Dabirimogahed from Iran who is a teacher and a painter. She is actually in the midst of doing some paintings to be sold for charity. Sharing Farnoosh’s love for art is Komal Lalwani from India who is more into craftwork. Swet Patel and Manas Taneja are the sportive types and love cricket and/or volleyball, while Prutha Solanki and Sreedhar Janagoam, both from India, love reading books. Peter Kafatia, an engineer from Malawi, who will be studying at Wittenborg Munich, loves aviation, aerospace and fast cars, while Ibukun Babafemi from Nigeria has a plethora of interesting hobbies. Parham Rahimi from Iran even joined the virtual chat from the airport, all masked up. Prof. Dadi Chen was, as all the staff were, exhilarated and commented, “We have musicians, artists, photographers, and sports fans. What a talented group!”
Kejsi Hoxha, from Albania asked the question “Was it easy to adapt to your new lifestyle?” and who better person to provide the answer than our own CEO, Maggie Feng. Feng shared her ‘nostalgic’ experiences and said that when she first arrived at Schiphol’s airport in the Netherlands in 1999, her luggage was lost. She took almost 6 years to get used to the Dutch environment and system and even though she travels back to China 4-5 times a year, she often has flashes of thoughts reminiscent of her days in China and how much she misses the noise, the sound, the smell and the food of Beijing. She said that the best way to avoid missing your country is to try and change your mindset and accept the good things and opportunities that the Netherlands has to offer. Aleksandre added that making new friends, focusing on their studies and participating in social events can help them to adapt to the culture of the Netherlands. Kavinga Ranaweera, another student representative, affirmed that it is not difficult to adapt as people around are very understanding and there is always encouragement from friends.
The finale of the session was when students posted selfies of themselves with their national flags, with Manas Taneja claiming the prize for being the first to post. Mabelle Olympia from Germany improvised her lack of printer and showed her flag on her laptop screen, while Mohit took a photo of himself holding a white paper and then digitally coloured the paper to turn it into the flag of India. Qais, despite being more into digital art, took the liberty to paint his national flag with his bare fingers. And letting us have a glimpse of her artistic talent, Farnoosh, of course, being the painter, painted one for us to admire. Professor Arie Barendregt suggested having a webpage on the Wittenborg site dedicated to all the new students, a contact point for both students, faculty and staff. It will be a page with faces and names and nationalities of all students who have just joined Wittenborg’s close-knit family.
"It is actually nice that we are connecting with each other." Kejsi Hoxha from Albania.
Some students voiced their enthusiasm to meet the staff and teachers in person and many were delighted with the session, as Kejsi Hoxha wrote in the chat, “It is actually nice that we are connecting with each other”. It was really a splendid session with many candid comments and remarks from students, verbal and written, saying how nice it was to meet everybody and how they hope to see everyone soon. The session ended with Sophia and Nadia reminding students to join Wittenborg’s social media platforms and sign up for the Virtual Group Workout as well as the Virtual Lunch on Fridays.
by Hanna Abdelwahab
©Wittenborg University Press