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The International Student Platform (ISP) is an advisory committee to the Student Council and the Council for Student Services on all matters relating to international students at the VUB. It has 15 members, each from a different country, showing the truly international nature of the platform: Spain, Pakistan, India, Belgium, China, the Netherlands, Rwanda, Albania, Japan, Colombia, Kosovo, Romania, Germany, Singapore and Brazil.
On Friday 30 November, the two new Vice-Chairs were elected, as well as a new Chair, so it was time for a chat!
Gwenaëlle Poulet, ISP’s new Chair, is a 3rd year Bachelor of Social Sciences student and is from Belgium. However, it isn’t as simple as that, since Gwen spent most of her life so far outside Belgium. She spent her primary school years in Bolivia, and her secondary school years in Senegal, Mali and Niger, before coming to Brussels for her university studies. You could argue she’s the perfect embodiment of ISP!
What will be the focus of ISP’s work in the coming year?
“We will continue the work that was done in the past year. ISP made a lot of progress on various fronts, but we still have much to do, especially in terms of our visibility towards all the international students at the university,” Gwen explains.
In terms of focus points, the following are the topics ISP will look at, or continue:
- Graduations and housing are still topics that need improvement. “There are no real clear-cut solutions to the graduations. We had the first International Student Goodbye event in June, but we need more involvement and it all needs to be more integrated, so we’ll work on that in the coming year. In terms of housing we know there will be improvements with the new dorms opening, but we need to be on the priority list and have more rooms available for international students.”
- Strengthening cooperation with and among the international student organisations. ISP is there to give advice and help them out. “We want to improve on this a bit more and steer these groups, as they often have the same issues as ISP, so we can help out with advice.”
- Improve ISP visibility. “We now have someone in ISP who will be dedicated to PR and improving the awareness of ISP among all the international students. Especially now with the 2nd English-taught bachelor’s programme, we need more engagement from the international students!”
- The next Student Conference. This will be the second one, after the great success of last year’s event. “We’ll most likely keep the timing and set-up very similar to the first conference, and we are organising it again in partnership with the Student Council and the VUB International Relations office (IRMO), but we’ve not defined the topic yet. We’ll do that soon though,” Gwen continues.
So why did Gwen get involved in ISP?
“Due to my background of where I grew up, I feel more international than just Belgian. And in addition, I’m just an ‘engaged’ kind of person. Becoming Chair of ISP was almost a logical continuation from my involvement last year, when I was one of the Vice-Chairs. I just want to keep being involved in what ISP does, and I want to try my best to make a difference in ISP’s visibility among all international students on our campuses. I have to mind my time though. I’m also active in ESN, and there are so many more things I’d like to do, but I have to remind myself that I also need to keep time for studies!”