Science - March 18, 2004

‘Sport doesn’t need much language

What can Wageningen student organisations offer international students? Wb put the question to the big student clubs and some study organisations. Part five: Student rowing club Argo, Grebbedijk 59.

Type of club: Argo is a combination of a student club and a rowing club. They have a boat house and a canteen just outside Wageningen on the river Rhine. Some members row at competition level, which demands a lot of training. Others take it more easy as ‘regioroeiers’. The club has different committees that organise matches, parties, activities for new members and take care of the canteen. Chairman Wanne Kromdijk: “Rowing forms a bond between the members. We’re like a student club without obligations. Especially the competitive rowers go around together and they have to present themselves as a team at the inauguration ceremony.”

International members: Currently seven, from all around the world. “So far we have not canvassed specifically among international students. But those who dared to come have thrown themselves into the club and joined the competitive rowers. They also like the fact that we’re a Dutch student club with Dutch traditions, which gives them something to talk about at home.”

Language: You don’t need to speak Dutch to row. Kromdijk: “Sport doesn’t need much language. The essential rowing terms are easy to learn. Dutch students also don’t know the terms when they start.” Coaching in English is no problem. The annual general meeting and other official occasions are in Dutch, but other members are always happy to translate when necessary.

Openness: At the start of the year, in September, Argo organises a introduction called ‘afroeiperiode’ of four weeks, in which you can find out whether you want to become a member. In the spring they have a second introductory period of six weeks, this year starting on 10 May. As the rowing season already in full swing, you’ll have to wait until the next year to join the competitive rowers. “But for people with rowing experience we can always figure out something, as well as for people who’re here for less than a year.”
Argo has also developed a phased plan to attract more international members. This spring introduction they’ll canvass specifically among international students. Kromdijk: “We’re prepared to adapt our structure if it turns out that the presence of international students requires this.”

Does Argo have anything to offer non-Dutch students?: You need a sports card to become a member, but that’s probably all. Argo may be interesting if you’re looking for a club that has more to offer than just a serious outdoor sport.
Yvonne de Hilster

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