Stronger together thanks to students
They support women with legal problems on a voluntary basis, collect money to recycle waste to make light sources, set up social enterprises, or work for global health. There are many ways in which students at Maastricht University go the extra mile. Not just for their CVs, but to put their ideals into practice. And as a welcome side-effect, they make a lot of friends.
From Nepal and South Africa to “Waffle Wednesdays” in Maastricht
For Maastricht University’s students Dennis Katwal and Megan Entzinger, volunteering has always played a part in their life. Finding that they had spare time to fill when arriving in a new country, they naturally wanted to use this time to help others – and they found the perfect opportunity when they came across the charity committees of their study programmes.
What do these charity committees do?
Every semester the charity committees of the Maastricht Science Programme (MSP) and University College Maastricht (UCM), who work closely together, choose a new charity to support. To raise money, they organize regular activities like pub quiz nights and waffle sales every Wednesday. The charity they supported last semester is ‘Maastricht goes to Calais’, a student led project that raises money and material donations for refugees in the Calais refugee camp. For both Dennis and Megan, joining the charity committees was the obvious thing to do.
Megan (in the middle) during one of the charity committee's bake sales.
Also read our other stories about students volunteering, for example about the Women’s legal advice centre, Enactus, Liter of Light, and IFMSA. Only a few student organisations are mentioned, but there are obviously many more student organisations active in Maastricht. More examples can be found on the UM website.
From playing with children in Ghana to baking waffles in Maastricht
Megan Entzinger (21) is a third year MSP student. She grew up in South Africa, went to middle school in the UK and attended an international high school in Switzerland. These international experiences were not enough for Megan and so she came to Maastricht. Having done a lot of charity work in high school, Megan jumped at the opportunity when the MSP charity committee was started up. “My high school charity work in Nepal and Ghana was a real hands-on experience where we could play with the children and dig the required holes. The international school wanted us to be more aware of what’s going on around us. When I found out there was a charity committee at MSP, I automatically wanted to join.”
What does it mean to be a volunteer?
Megan’s experience with volunteering sparked an interest in volunteering that continues to this day. Charity has become a big part of her life: “It’s become sort of a constant feeling that you need to help someone. It’s just me being part of society.”
From helping stray dogs in Nepal to baking waffles in Maastricht
Dennis’ (22) story is just as international. He is half Nepali and half Austrian and a third year UCM student. He attended an international high school in Nepal and lived in Vienna a bit. For Dennis, charity also played a big role in high school. He says charity work in Nepal is a bit different than here in Maastricht: “In Nepal, you could actually see the things being done and you could join very easily. Here, you don’t see a lot of charity programmes because they’re not applied here in Maastricht. So when I came here, I realised it was something I missed.”
In Nepal, charity work was a big deal, he says. “For example, I spent half a summer working in an animal shelter that helps out with a stray dog problem. They take the dogs in, so people can adopt them more easily and the street population stops growing.”
What does it mean to be a volunteer?
“I believe that volunteering comes naturally for me. It’s also a way of creating a community. At UCM, there are a lot of committees doing all kinds of different things, for example with music or sustainability. We’re always helping each other out.”
Megan and Dennis’s advice to others who want to volunteer: Choose where and how you want to help. Find out what you’re passionate about, start small and get bigger. There are a huge number of ways to make a difference.