News - October 30, 2008


On this sunny autumn Saturday afternoon, the Wageningen water meadows look more idyllic than ever. A pair of young swans swim gracefully around the arm of the Lower Rhine, while a brown cow wades in down by the bridge. Suddenly the peace is shattered by thirty young people wearing farmers’ smocks or red farmers’ scarves on their heads.

Jieling Li and Juan had a laugh in the clog race.
These are visiting students who have come to sample the delights of Wageningen as part of the Reception Weekend 2008 organized by the Wageningen branch of the international student organization AIESEC. AIESEC negotiates between Dutch companies and overseas students who want to do internships here. Dutch students can gain overseas contacts by helping to run AIESEC, and visiting interns gain an international social network in the Netherlands.

With the theme ‘Temptation Weiland’, AIESEC wants to get rid of Wageningen’s rather stuffy image. ‘In the Netherlands, Wageningen University is seen as a farmers’ school. We want to smarten up our image. We want to show both Dutch and overseas students that the countryside can be sexy, so we are introducing them to the delights of Wageningen’, explains board member Liselotte van Steenis.

These delights include clogs, bulbs and Unox smoked sausage – and all this in the thick Wageningen river clay. The students can win points by throwing the turnips as far as they can, and by eating the sausage as sexily as possible. This produces some hilarious scenes, although not especially academic ones.

Jieling Li from China thinks it’s all ‘fantastic’ and ‘so exciting’. She comes from a city and is doing an internship with a finance firm in Amsterdam. She thinks the Wageningen area is beautiful and is enjoying every minute of the Reception Weekend. Aminu, a Tilburg-based software engineer from Nigeria, is remarkably quick in his clogs. While the tall Dutch struggle along in clogs that are too small, he leaps ahead in the clog relay.

None of the students accept the challenge of earning extra points by ‘skinny dipping’ in the Rhine. They leave that to the cow, still standing in the water, imperturbably chewing the cud. And when an Alsatian dog runs off with the sausage, the students resume their tour. Because there are many more Wageningen delights in store for them: Cuddling a cow, milking beer and to crown it all, a party in the evening with the ‘Sexist Farmer Competition’.