Student - October 20, 2010

Begging in Trinidad

Who? Tetje Henstra and Frans-Joost Boogert, students of International Land and Water Management
What? Research on river water quality
Where? Trinidad and Tobago
Why? Compulsory Bachelor’s internship; nice to look for new horizons

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'We had been given expensive equipment from Wageningen to take along with us so we could measure the water quality. So off we went and started taking measurements, standing up to our waists in the water - wearing waders, mind you. The first thing we noticed was that the Wageningen equipment could not measure the amounts of the substances in the water. The second was that there were holes in our waders, so they were completely useless.
To find out whether there was a connection between the use of pesticides in agriculture and the water quality, we interviewed a number of farmers. If they were using loads of pesticide (perhaps too much), it was not on purpose, but they are businessmen, after all, and they want to make a profit.
We also got the chance to sample Trinidadian culture. The gardener on the campus invited us to go 'liming' with him. Sure, we said, without having any idea what liming was. After driving for two hours we began to have our doubts as to whether it was very sensible. We hardly knew the man. Eventually we came to some kind of café. And there we found out that liming is more or less the same as what we would call hanging out. Rum, Malibu and shooting the breeze. Usually men only, but this time there was a woman for a change. So what do the women do then? We have no idea, but we did notice that the women are a lot more ambitious than the men. There were many more women students and in our chair group there was also a clear majority of women.
An internship abroad is quite expensive. We got the shock of our lives when we realized that our internship allowance was well below the agreed minimum. And we were being paid from Wageningen! Since we had to eat, we had no choice but to beg. Frans-Joost turned out to have a natural talent for it. We ended up with one Trinidad & Tobago dollar - roughly 12 Euro cents - which was from our supervisor there. More importantly, we had a good laugh, especially when the story, with photo and all, ensured that our allowance went up after all.'

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