Van Bergen Award

International Ball and Integration Project win

The Van Bergen Fund aims to promote contacts between Dutch and international students at Leiden University in order to achieve a better understanding of each other's cultures. This year the Van Bergen Fund has selected two winners: Floris Bonnet’s International Ball and Hannah Bricklebank’s Leiden Student Integration Project.

International Ball

Leiden Student Integration Project

In his own experience with Leidance (Leiden student dance association) and the classes Floris Bonnet took at the USC, he noticed international relationships are very easily developed and maintained. The main objective of the International Ball is to bring Dutch and international students closer together. Nine dancing lessons will be organised, once a week. At least four dances will be learned: English Waltz; Valdresspringar (Scandinavian); Salsa (South & North-American); Quickstep (Western), and an opening dance. The final event will be the International Ball where these dances will be performed. After the performance other Leiden university students can join in for social dancing or the afterparty. “Dancing together is one of the best ways for individuals to connect,” says Floris Bonnet. “The idea had been on my mind for a long time. I’m excited about this award and can’t wait to start. If it’s up to me, the International Ball will be an annual event.”



As in past years, there were so many inspring submissions, the jury of the Van Bergen Award decided not only to award two initiatives with funding for their proposals, but also to announce two nominees who will be given the chance to further develop their plans in cooperation with the Van Bergen Fund.


Going Dutch! is an idea invented by Gareth O’Neill, Julia Heuritsch en Charlotte de Roon. Going Dutch! is about bringing incoming international PhDs in contact with Dutch PhDs to learn about life in Leiden and the Netherlands. Many international PhD candidates have a tough time moving to another country and integrating into a new language and culture. They also find it hard to adjust to the administrative and social culture within their new university. Going Dutch! plans a series of four cultural day trips. New international PhDs will be coupled with Dutch PhDs throughout the year, where they can share experiences and get to know each other in an informal yet educational setting. The key words of Going Dutch! are integration, friendship and fun.


Spread the Word was proposed by Irene Pegiou: a project to bring Dutch and international students together through interacting and exchanging cultural experiences and language knowledge and  - in the spirit of living healthy - train together for the 2017 Leiden marathon, as well as (why not?) other marathons within the Netherlands. The idea will be to arrange meetings in the weekends in order for Dutch language courses given by the Dutch students to the foreign students and other languages courses given from the international students to whoever from the group would like to join.

Winners of 2015

In 2015, the Van Bergen Award was presented to the ‘International Friendship Cup’ and ‘Global Villages’. On 24 May, the first Global Village was organised at Leiden University, an opportunity for international students to meet and discuss stereotyping of the Middle East. On 18 June, the International Friendship Cup was held at Leiden University Sports Center. 60 participants joined the international tournament, in which 6 badminton teams and 4 soccer teams played.

The purpose of this plan is to improve relations and increase interactions between Dutch and international students at Leiden University. Hannah Bricklebank’s plan is designed to maximise interaction between Leiden University's Dutch and international student body by creating a fun environment that entices participation through diverse cultural expressions such as cuisine, film, art, music, and sports. In addition, with the inclusion of charitable good works this plan aims to instil a sense of community not only within Leiden University but also across the Netherlands. The ultimate goal is for our culturally diverse students to find value in interacting with one another and not to come across as a forced, awkward social attempt. “I can speak from personal experience: there is definitely a distance between Dutch and international students,” Hannah Bricklebank comments. “It undermines a cohesive university community. My hope with this project is to positively enhance the experience of Leiden students, as well as further promote integration.”

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