skip to main content

Blog consortium: Nikolien van Lidth de Jeude

In this series we interview the people behind VIS in het HO: Nikolien tells why she joined the consortium and what the added value of VIS is.

Nikolien van Lidth de Jeude is senior advisor on internationalization at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. A broad position, because the theme ‘international’ cannot be framed very easily. It is a theme that is also determined by current events: what is going on in the world, in Europe, in the Netherlands. Her role in the VIS project also arose from the topicality that OCW developed a subsidy measure. Since Nikolien had already been promoting ‘Virtual Exchange’ within the HU for some time, her participation in the VIS consortium was a logical step.

VIS helps with sustainability, digitization and diversity

Virtual International Cooperation (VIS) is a tool that can be used to exchange contexts and perspectives in the world. With this we do justice to European priorities or even World priorities such as sustainability, intercultural learning and practicing digitalization.

International contacts through tools, laptops, e-mails and LinkedIn work differently than when you see each other physically in a room. You get to know each other in a different way. What factors play a role here and what should you pay attention to when entering into a collaboration digitally? VIS is an ideal tool to practice and experience this.

VIS is also a good tool for intercultural exchange. Intercultural sensitivity should be considered in a project: what habits do the different cultures have and how do you deal with them? Are you rather goal-oriented or social? How do you make contact and how do you work together in the best way? When someone gets sick, in the Netherlands the thought is often: ‘how will this person get better?’ There are also cultures or contexts where the focus is more on: ‘how do you care for someone who is sick?’

You can use a VIS project to compare social and cultural contexts without flying, making it a sustainable way of learning and exchange. You can make the experience even more sustainable by building it into your curriculum. If you do this well, you can have VIS recurring in a subject every year, even without the grant. So make lasting contacts in your VIS project and establish the framework together.

VIS is not a goal. The goal is not to teach a course where you also collaborate virtually with international contacts. VIS is a means of exchanging and comparing contexts internationally and learning from and inspiring each other in the process. You can promote VIS more widely within your institution when you link it to the goals of your specific organization. For example, if you are in an agricultural sector and you have set goals up to 2030, take a look at what those goals are and how you could contribute to them with VIS.

The reason I do the work I do is that I hope to contribute to a tolerant society that way. I believe in education as a means to contribute positively to that society. This should not be in country boxes, because we are more than that. All the different cultures in the world show that a lot of ideas are good and that we can learn a lot from each other. It can be hugely inspiring to see how something works in a totally different way too! Some ideas we may not like as much, but where are the dividing lines and where do we find each other? And where does the idea actually come from, what’s behind it? This curiosity about each other is important, more important than immediately judging what is “right” or “wrong” in your eyes.