‘China is a rising power and there are a lot of opportunities there’

Though they experienced it in different ways, students Eduard Ma and Raman van Wee both say the NAHSS programme is a great opportunity.

Raman van Wee is on the left and Eduard Ma on the right. (Photo: personal collection)

Eduard Ma: “I am a premaster’s student in Computer Science. This is my fifth year at TU Delft and I will most likely be doing a master’s in Bioinformatics. Last summer, I participated in the NAHSS programme. The NAHSS programme is a summer school organised by Dutch ministries, Chinese companies and Dutch research universities. It’s for all kinds of bachelor’s students to get to know China because it’s a rising power and there are a lot of opportunities there. For most Dutch students China is a bit unfamiliar because the culture is different and the business culture is different. That’s why this programme was started. For about half a year, students get to work at one of the Dutch or Chinese companies or ministries here in the Netherlands and at the end of the programme NAHSS facilitates a trip to China.”

Raman van Wee: “I am doing a master’s in Nanobiology and started studying at TU Delft in 2016. During my bachelor’s I participated in an exchange programme and went to a partner university in Canada. That was a wonderful experience and it was eye-opening to see what’s out there beyond TU Delft. Then I heard about the NAHSS programme. I had never been to Asia and thought it was a fantastic opportunity to have an experience outside of my comfort zone. That was in 2019 so it was the last year before the pandemic.

‘It was a fantastic opportunity to have an experience outside of my comfort zone’

Over the last decades we have seen increasing numbers of students from China coming to the Netherlands, but much fewer the other way around. That’s one of the reasons that the Dutch Government and Dutch universities, and particularly TU Delft which is a founding member, are so enthusiastic to help Dutch students experience China.

I was fortunate enough to participate when international travel was still feasible. I was in China for six weeks and for five of those weeks I was in Chengdu which is in the centre of China. I participated in a summer school on Chinese language and politics together with around 30 other students from the NAHSS. There was also a focus on Chinese culture and business. We visited Dutch people who had set up businesses in China and Chinese people who were doing business with the Netherlands. We visited national parks and museums, and we did cooking workshops. For the last week we went to Shanghai and that’s where all of the 100 NAHSS participants came together. We were spread over four cities for the first five weeks and then convened to close the programme and do the final presentations of our consultancy projects.”

Ma: “I participated in the programme last summer and am the current student ambassador. I did have the internship experience here in the Netherlands, but unfortunately couldn’t travel to China because of the Covid situation. But they arranged an alternative programme here in the Netherlands where they invited academics and people from Government that deal a lot with China. They facilitated conversations about all kinds of things from cultural differences to ethical questions. It was very interesting. If people want to know more about this programme there is going to be an online Q&A information session on 15 December at 19:00. Or if people have questions they can also email me directly.”

Van Wee: “What I also got out of the NAHSS is the experience of working together with students from all sorts of universities, not just technical students. There are students from history, law, all subjects. So working on the consultancy project with a group of eight was very interesting to me because it showed me that the way we think here at TU Delft as technical students in not how everyone thinks. For example, at one point I had written a piece and wasn’t satisfied because I thought it was lacking numbers. Then I read the other pieces and realised that mine had more numbers than all the others combined. Instead, I needed to write something that was easier to read, not with more numbers. That is just one example of learning from the interdisciplinary nature of the programme that was valuable to me.”

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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