News - August 30, 2007

‘Only pop stars raise money for charity’

Gabriele Cassani raises money for charity by giving a Wageningen lady an Italian kiss.
Hug the bear, have your car washed or squirt a guy with tomato ketchup. These were a few of the options on offer to shoppers in the centre of Wageningen on Saturday 18 August. In just two hours new students had raised nearly 4,000 euros for charity.

‘Do you want a French or Italian kiss?’ The Italian kiss is delivered by Gabriele Cassani. ‘It is the only thing I can do,’ he explains. It is also possible to hug animals, like the big brown bear walking around. The guy in the suit admits that he already has scared a lot of dogs and small children away.

In the main street there seem to be more students than shoppers. Many groups came up with the idea of letting people throw water balloons at them. The targets vary from girls in bikinis to a pineapple placed on someone’s head. A variation on this slightly sadistic theme is to smear tomato ketchup all over a student. Kawire and Wouter, who have wound themselves together with packing tape, pass by: ‘We are getting a bit tired after an hour and a half, but everybody thinks it’s funny.’ Coins and a single 10 euro note are stuck to the tape.

Collecting money for charity is a traditional activity during the introduction days. However, this is the first year that master’s and international students have participated, so there are also ideas with an international flavour. In addition to watching music and dance or getting your name written in Chinese characters, you can have your picture taken with a ‘traditional Chinese girl’. Jiang Xue is dressed in a high-necked red satin cheongsam. She says it’s difficult to collect money because ‘everybody already paid somewhere else’. Jiang Xue arrived three days before in the Netherlands, to do a master’s in Food Safety. The idea of charity is new to her. ‘In China only pop stars do something for charity. It is not something for normal people.’

People can also get their faces painted or a cartoon of themselves drawn. ‘We’re doing quite well. Three of us are drawing portraits. None of us is good, but the drawings do resemble the subjects. So far we’ve made 123 euros,’ says biology student Sydney Stax.

‘We can chase the students away for you,’ Nick and Mike offer at their ‘Relax to the Max’ corner. Here, one can digest all the impressions on a chair, with a cup of tea or coffee, a neck massage and a pleasant chat.

The new students raised 3,775 euros, according to the CAID organisers a bit more than last year. The money will go to Colour4kids, a charity that helps orphans and homeless children all over the world. It appears that success does not depend on originality. The group that collected the most money, about 260 euros, just told people aboutColour4kids and asked them for money. The price for originality goes to the magic trick that made people float. The people were bunched tightly together on chairs and then the chairs were taken away.