News - November 2, 2006

Discrimination dinner breaks the ice

In the Arion student building about forty international students sit down to a meal at long tables. The walls behind them are decorated with drawings of different countries. The countries are covered with stickers with comments on them. Spain has one with ‘always too late’; France is graced with ‘good girls’ and Canada gets a sticker with ‘no culture’ on it. Is this a provocative new art form? No, it was the decor for the 'pie and prejudice' dinner organised by the WSO last Thursday.

The objective of the dinner was to bring international students together. The evening started with the participants writing down as many preconceived ideas as they could about nine different countries, and then sticking them on the wall drawings. After each course, students from the various countries explained which of these are true and which not. ‘Laughing about prejudices is a good way of breaking the ice,’ explained WSO member Diederik van der Loo.

Dutch students are often under the impression that international students keep to themselves and don’t want to integrate, he said. ‘I don’t think this is the case. Many international students only arrive in Wageningen after the introduction days. They also often live on corridors with no shared living space. This makes it difficult for them to meet students from other countries. It’s easier to start a conversation with someone you don’t know while eating together.’

After the starter, a Norwegian student tries to make it clear that the sun does shine sometimes in Norway, and there is not always snow on the ground. Her eyes roam over the different stickers on her country, and widen in surprise as she sees the sticker with the word ‘alcoholics’. ‘What? Who wrote that? Alcohol is so expensive in our country.’ The eaters burst out in laughter. After a few seconds she gets it too. ‘It’s true, when we are abroad, we can drink much more.’