If we (manage to) forget about the wind, Groningen seems to be a paradise for students. This is not only because of the 1€ beer and cheap food. Groningen offers great educational system and cultural activities. Taking care of the students is one of the main objectives of the city and the University of Groningen,for aquite a while!
In the 1970′s, both the University and the City of Groningen decided to create several students organizations, in order to keep both student’s bodies and minds entertained. The ACLO, the ESN and the USVA are the main students’ organizations of the Groningen, and each of them has a specific role in the student’s lives.
While ESN is entertaining students and ACLO taking care of their physical conditions; USVA is the association that offers mind opening activities in the field of art and culture in general. The main idea and originality of the association is to provide to students cultural activities, in order to entertain their minds into something else other than studies.
“”USVA is a cultural association, run by students, for students. We want to get people to interact with each other, in a different environment”
Annemiek Wegkamp paused her studies of communication sciences for one year. For three months now, she has been in charge of the online marketing of the USVA. Annemiek, and six others students from the University of Groningen form the USVA Board. In collaboration with the people working in the association full time, the students, coming from all kinds of study backgrounds, the policy is formed: they are in charge of the program, the creation of classes and schedules, the marketing, the events… and every other aspects of the association functioning.
“At first, I was a bit scared about working everyday in the association; but even though working together with students and USVA employees was totally different from studying; I am so happy that I enjoyed practicing what I have been learning at school beforehand” Annemiek claims. Experiencing the “world of work” is really beneficial to students, who can challenge themselves while serving the interest of the association. Every year, a new board of students is elected and they are in charge of the association for one year. Both board’s members and USVA’s employees are happy with this system, since “students are bringing new dynamism and energy to the association” as Annemiek explained.
“We are working in providing Groningen’s students a new cultural dimension”
In fact, the cultural center is a very dynamic place! Enthusiastic members know about students’ expectations, and that is the reason why the USVA’s offer is so diverse and interesting. “We are offering courses in all kinds of disciplines: professional teachers are giving classes in all kind of cultural fields!” Everyone who wants to practice artistic dances, body&mind activities (yoga and pilates), acting, drawing, music, improving comedy… is welcome to be part of the association. Besides courses, USVA is also organizing punctual events. There is a committee which is specialized in partnerships, and sometimes the collaboration can lead to the creation events. Most of the times they are in Dutch; but Annemiek assures that “USVA is working on being more International, with focusing a bit more on the International community of Groningen”. There are three prices for every class. Because the University of Groningen is one the of the main partner of the USVA, RUG’s students can beneficiate of reduced prices. It goes the same for the Hanze students, even though the reduction is not as interesting as for the RUG’s students.
Since USVA is not an organization for profit, classes’ fees are never very high and anyone who is really willing to get involved in cultural activities can make this choice easily. “Indeed, the purpose of the association is to lead students into practicing, and sometimes even finding their cultural passions”, in Annemiek’s words.
All classes are given in the USVA building, which is in the city center. As Annemiek said “this is very easy for the students to find the association”. USVA is a place where talents are valued.
In addition to the cultural activities, USVA offers to International students to opportunity to work as volunteers. Currently, two German students are working within the association, on the design and events committees. Everyone in the association is very pleased to work in English, and to turn the whole USVA into something more International.
For information, you can consult the website:www.usva.nl which is available in English.
Courses registration can be done on www.usva.nl/courses
Text by zoe Revercez Z
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