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Two Van Bergen Prize winners: bringing Dutch and international students together

The Van Bergen Prize was awarded to not one, but two initiatives at the Diversity Symposium on 22 January. ‘Leiden City Safari’ is a fun city tour that will help incoming Dutch and international students get to know the city of Leiden – and each other. The interactive ‘OpenUP!’ symposium will invite students to share how they deal with stress and anxiety.

The Van Bergen Prize is awarded annually to initiatives that aim to bring Dutch and international students together. All kind of activities or initiatives are welcome, as long they have not been organised before. This year two projects won the prize, and both were awarded the maximum funding of 5,000 euro.

Leiden City Safari 

The first winning project, Leiden City Safari, is organised by the LUMC International Student Committee (LisCo). Leiden City Safari is a city tour that aims to introduce international students to the city of Leiden as well as to their fellow Dutch students. ‘We will explore the city in a fun and interactive way with 200 students – half of them Dutch and half of them international,’ says Naomi Vos, a third-year Biomedical Sciences student and president of LisCo. The students will go in small groups and visit places such as City Hall, the Academy Building, the Burcht and different museums.

While walking from location to location – each group starting at a different point – the students will be given a list of challenges. These include, for instance, taking photographs with someone working at the street market, or making a video of someone doing a handstand in front of the windmill. ‘We believe that creative challenges such as these will promote bonding between the students,’ says Vos. The event will take place in September. For more information and updates, check the LisCo Facebook page.

The LUMC International Student Committee (LisCo)
The LUMC International Student Committee (LisCo)


‘Life can be overwhelming for students. Stress has become part of students’ academic life, irrespective of country, nationality, or culture,’ says Ignacia Levy Barros, study adviser BSc Political Science. She and other study advisers and coordinators from Leiden University Campus The Hague have noticed an increase in students struggling with stress and anxiety. With the OpenUP! symposium, they aim to not only break the silence, but to encourage students to support each other and empower them to take ownership of their feelings and mental state. 

The event will include the screening of Stress to Impress, a short film that focuses on study-related stress, choice overload, dealing with disappointments, and the influence of social media. The film’s creator, Sanne Kooiman (24), will discuss these topics with the audience, and students will share their experiences during an ‘open mic session’. ‘We hope to break the taboo around mental health issues by discussing this in a safe setting,’ says Levy Barros. The event will be held on 27 February at Leiden University Campus The Hague. More information and registration


The team behind symposium OpenUP!
The team behind symposium OpenUP!

About the Van Bergen Prize

The Van Bergen Fund, which organises this competition, is named after Joris van Bergen, former member of the Executive Board of Leiden University. The prize is awarded annually to an individual or team at Leiden University with the best idea for bringing together Dutch and international students. The jury is made up of students and staff, and they assess the entries based on their innovative nature, their scope and their feasibility. More information on the Van Bergen Prize

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