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Studying thanks to a present for former mayor Deetman

Fourteen students from developing countries spend the last years studying Public International Law at Leiden University. They did so with a fund that was established at the departure of former mayor of The Hague, Wim Deetman, in 2008.

Residents and businesses from The Hague raised 300,000 euros for a leaving present for Deetman. The municipality of The Hague donated a further 1.5 million euros. This made it possible for 49 talented students from developing countries to study in The Hague in recent years. Fourteen of them studied Public International Law at Leiden University in The Hague. Some of them introduce themselves:

Vonnie Sutedjo, Indonesia

Studying in The Hague was a ‘life-changing experience’, says Sutedjo. She came to The Hague in 2012 for a Master’s in Public International Law. For her, there could be no place better to study international law than The Hague, the international city of peace and justice.

‘I used to see the International Court of Justice on the cover of my book in Indonesia,’ she says. ‘But being able to sit down inside, to learn in the library and to gain access to various scholarly journals was really a dream come true. And the Netherlands is a nice country, where the people are open-minded and friendly. For me, it will always be my second home.

Back in Indonesia Sutedjo works as a legal consultant. She tells students at the University of Surabaya all about what she learnt in The Hague, and hopes to encourage her juniors to study about international law. ‘Then we in Indonesia will be able to contribute our energy and ideas to international law.’

Wim Deetman (right) awards a diploma to scholarship beneficiary.

Akali Francis Oloo, Kenya

Oloo from Kenya was able to study in the Netherlands in 2015 thanks to a Wim Deetman Scholarship. He wanted not only to use his talent to address human rights violations in Africa but above all to serve as an example to his community. He wanted to show people that it is possible for someone from Africa to do great things through education.

‘The Wim Deetman Scholarship is the best thing to ever happento me,’ says Oloo. ‘I cannot thank the city of The Hague and former mayor Wim Deetman enough for enabling me to study at one of the best universities in the world.’ During his studies in The Hague, Oloo wrote a thesis about the human rights of LGBT people in Kenya. 

After he graduated, Oloo did an internship at the UN in New York. He now works as a programme assistant at the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi. He regularly thinks back to the ‘vibrant and peaceful city life’ in his student town of The Hague.

Rima Karapetyan, Armenia

Her time studying in The Hague and Leiden were for Karapetyan ‘the best days of her life.’ She knew from an early age that she found international law and diplomacy really interesting, and the Wim Deetman Scholarship made it possible to leave her homeland and study abroad. She felt ‘thrilled and privileged’ when she heard that she had been selected.

‘I am one of the biggest ambassadors for the cities of Leiden and The Hague,’ she says. ‘I spread the word among potential students not only about the educational possibilities in these wonderful cities, but also about how interesting and enriching living there can be for young people. I have even personally accompanied people during Leiden University’s Open Days to introduce them to the available opportunities and unique atmosphere there.’

Rima currently works in Brussels as a diplomat for the Mission of Armenia at the EU. Representing her country in one of the most important centres of the world is a great honour, and the knowledge that she acquired at Leiden University is of great importance in this work. 

More scholarship beneficiaries

The profiles above of scholarship beneficiaires come from 10 Years Wim Deetman Scholarship, a publication that was made upon the completion of the programme. For this publication, all of the programme’s alumni were asked about their experiences. The book was written by scholarship beneficiary Ubongabasi Obot.

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