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Today, March 24th, at lunchtime King Filip unexpectedly visited the student restaurant at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Three groups of students were ready to discuss their commitment at the Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus in Etterbeek. To their surprise rector Caroline Pauwels and Student Council president Jarne Verelst brought along King Filip. An animated conversation with 19 students on values, commitment and social engagement was the result.
The gathering was organised on request of King Filip himself. The king wanted to gauge the student atmosphere and discuss social commitment with them. In the student restaurant he had lunch with 19 students and some professors. They talked about social and inclusive education, engagement for a sustainable society and social entrepreneurship as a leverage.
Rector Caroline Pauwels is proud to be able to introduce the students to our king. ‘VUB is more than just studying. Our students will be building the world of tomorrow and they cannot start doing so early enough. We encourage them to take up social commitment outside of their study work, with a starting point in openness for other visions and premises. Respect and dialogue based on facts are the beacons we try to bestow upon our students.’
At the first table students debated inclusive education.
Through the BRUTUS project we try to guide small groups of students coming from underprivileged and/or ethnically diverse families and/or who are threatened by school fatigue in the Brussels Dutch speaking secondary education system. Every week they get free support from students during two hours.
But also access to education was discussed. Edukado supports and guides groups of students from higher education in realising an educational solidarity project in the south. The student team puts together a building project including the financing thereof and consequently travels to the country in question for a month and a half to execute the build. The current Edukado team is planning to build a school in Sierra Leone.
After the starter - a soup of leek - the king joined the second table. There students were gathered that perform voluntary policy work in the Student Council, the International Student Platform, but also in the multicultural student organisation MixOmnia.
Following the main course table 3 with budding social entrepreneurs was up. Their motivations may be different, the shared passion is equally high. These students talk about the basic values of our society (studiekring Vrij Onderzoek), about environmental activism (Green team and Social Ecological Activists) or about translating theory into practice (Citizenlab, Track42).