As we were pleasantly on the comfortable NS train going to the Hague for our first visit to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, we were still a bit unsure of the specific direction of the research. There were heaps of questions in the air, that we were eager to ask the contact persons of the Ministry. Also, we were two researchers on the train; Elisa (that's me) and Pavela; and the supervisor of the research, Linda. Two of us, Alex and Lise, were going to take the train from other cities in the country, and there were some surprising disturbance on the tracks. That added some excitement to our journey to the Hague, but we all ended up getting on time to the Ministry.
I would now like to write a little overview of our group of four for the research, and the supervisors. Dr. ir. Menno R. Kamminga is our highest supervisor, a senior lecturer at the RUG (Uni Groningen), and he is especially interested in ethics and theory of International Relations (IR). Linda Klunder is a student supervisor, a second year Bachelor student of IR, and is working for International Research for Students Programme, IRSP. Alex Onaca, a third year Honours Bachelor student, has a Dutch-Romanian cultural and linguistic background and studied in the USA and completed an internship at the Dutch embassy in Vienna (OSCE Rep.). Me, Elisa Ahovuori, I am a MA IR student, originally from Finland, and have been educated in three different countries: Finland, France and the Netherlands. Lise Weerden, a MA IR student, is a Dutch national who has a Bachelor and Honours degree in IR, and has lived in Sydney and Hong Kong. Pavela Mitova, also a MA IR student, is originally from Bulgaria, and has successfully finished her Bachelor’s degree in Italy, but has also worked in the USA. Thus, we are all internationally oriented, and have ambitions to work in the field of IR. We share the interest to work towards improved relations between the Netherlands and other countries.
Now let's get back to telling you about the meeting with our partner... The goal of our meeting with Mr. Brian Fischel, the International Policy Advisor of the Ministry, and Mr. Joost van der Veen, a Senior Policy Collaborator in the Department of Higher Education at the Ministry, was to specify what is meant by the research questions that they have provided, and to clarify the direction of the research. We gathered in a conference room in the Ministry, after exhanging our passports and ID cards with official visitor badges (there is no easy access to the interior of the Ministry).
At the start of our gathering, we introduced ourselves and our backgrounds to Mr. Fischel and Mr. Van der Veen and vice versa, around a conference table reserved for the meeting. We got to ask the most burning questions from them, but were left to formulate a research plan with quite open hands. The Ministry has an inherent interest to improve the bilateral cooperation with other countries, in the field of education, innovation and research. To formulate a working policy proposal to target these ambitions, is our main goal.
After the official part of the meeting in the conference room, we gathered to have some drinks in the Ministry with Mr. Fischel and Mr, van der Veen, in a more informal setting. To our delight, also Karin Dekker, the Head of International Affairs, Department of International Policies, joined us to find out who we are and what our ambitions are. We got to discuss some interesting issues in international affairs with the three representatives.
All in all it was a fruitful meeting with the contact persons of the Ministry. We were very well received in the Ministry, and we were positively delighted about their interest in us as researchers. We are at the phase of planning a field trip to Canada and China, but are still unsure if we will be granted one. We currently have an ambitious research plan, that needs to be approved by the Ministry. I am personally looking forward to continuing the research and am certain that it will be a great journey, were it in the Netherlands, or also partially in Canada and China.
MA student of IR