Students seek solutions to real Rotterdam problems

Skyline of Rotterdam.
Maashaven Rotterdam-Zuid
Iris van den Broek

In Rotterdam-Zuid, Public Health students go beyond textbooks and lecture halls. They go into the neighbourhoods to get real experiences and work with residents. "I would like to mean something to communities in Rotterdam," says student Nina.

At an event on International Poverty Day in the Feijenoord playground Middenstip, Erasmus students, local residents and NGOs worked together. "Events like this are great because otherwise I would never be in this neighbourhood," says student Britt.

Connecting with the real world

The Public Health minor offers students practical experience and connects them to the real world. After the event at the playground, students also interacted with local residents. The students started by explaining to residents the concept of 'livelihood security', which gets a lot of attention in the news. They asked the residents if they could estimate their level of 'livelihood security', which includes safe housing, healthy financial situation, health status, etc. When asked what residents were most concerned about, they pointed to the financial debt problems many households experience and poor housing conditions with draughts and poor isolation, which in turn leads to low mental health.

Rotterdam Zuid
Wenda Doff

"The practical aspect of this minor appeals to me the most. I want to contribute to Rotterdam neighbourhoods and communities," says student Nina.

By engaging with local residents about local needs and policies, students develop valuable skills outside the classroom. On the other hand, local residents also engage with them, and feel heard. Vanessa Umboh of the Stem Zonder Gezicht Foundation acts as a bridge between students and local residents for equal conversations.

Collaboration and Meaningful Connections

Vanessa stresses the importance of open dialogues between future policymakers and residents. "Policymakers in Rotterdam have often studied at Erasmus. If they are more involved in these communities, they understand the challenges better. Policymakers who are more involved will write better policies: policies that really connect with the community and their needs," says Vanessa.

Growth through real experiences

The minor is a result of cooperation between different institutes and organisations in Rotterdam. The collaboration provides not only practical experience for students, but also valuable connections in the community. The aim is to take students out of their comfort zone and let them grow through real experiences.

More information

The minor in Public Health is the result of a multidisciplinary collaboration: Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, the Department of Public Health at Erasmus MC, GGD, ErasmusX and HefHouse.

Want to know more about teaching outside the classroom? Get in touch with Frieda Franke or visit the ErasmusX website for more information.

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