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A special guest at the festive opening of the academic year by the ULB and the VUB at Jubelpark was King Philippe. His presence confirmed the unique character of a joint academic opening by two universities. He was also there to present prizes to students who made an exceptional contribution to the cooperation and dialogue between communities, which is the coordinating theme of the event.



Language tandem 
The first students called to be on stage by hostess Annabelle were Ellen Van Begin and Louis Cornet. Both are law students, at the VUB and ULB respectively. They were rewarded because they participated in a ‘language tandem’. During a ‘language tandem’, students regularly meet to learn each other’s language. “Is that a good way to master a language?”, hostess Annabelle Van Nieuwenhuyse asked. “At our university, we sometimes miss being able to practice our languages,” Louis Cornet answered. Ellen Van Begin mentioned that the world is becoming more and more international. “To speak only one language is to limit yourself.” Obviously, they each answered while speaking their fellow student’s language.


Chairmen of the student associations of VUB and ULB
The second duo of students consisted of the chairmen of the Brussels Student Association (BSG, Brussels Studentengenootschap) and l’Association des Cercles Etudiants (ACE), Davide Militello and Baptiste Conversano. They each received a prize because of their student societies’ contributions to the Brussels student life and St V, the parade through which the ULB and VUB commemorate the founder of their university, every year in November. What did Davide Militello (BSG) think about this historic moment, both universities together on one stage? “I never could have thought that I, a student from Amsterdam, would ever receive a reward from the Belgian King.” “What unites us, is our love for freedom,” Baptiste concluded.


Discovery of the original plans for the Palais de Justice 
Finally, it was Melek Surgun and Thierry Henrard’s turn, representing a group of six students of the VUB ULB Executive Master Conservation and restauration of the architectural, urban and landscape heritage. The group recovered the plans of the Brussels Court, an invaluable discovery. Ine Wouters, one of the executive master’s professors, also joined. Why are they so fascinated by this master? Melek: “We all feel the same passion, a passion for the many interesting buildings Brussels has to offer.”