Dordt “SPICEs it up” with Netherlands program visitors

Cory Van Gilst—Staff Writer

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This week, Dordt College welcome two people to campus who have a special bond with certain students as well as many alumni.

As Tjalling Oosterhuis and Charlene Geertsma return to Dordt, they will be greeted by about a dozen SPICE alumni who spent a semester in their school in the Netherlands.

SPICE (Study Program in Contemporary Europe) is one of Dordt’s largest study abroad programs. Last year, a total of 14 students participated.

For several years, Oosterhuis and other SPICE coordinators have journeyed across the pond to visit with past students as well as interview prospective students of the program. During their visit, future students of the program get the opportunity to talk with students who participated last spring. This allows for a better understanding of what life abroad is like and how to best prepare for it.

“I really enjoyed that night; it gave me an idea of what to expect and what do to for those four months,” said SPICE alum Leanne Dieleman.

Like previous years, Oosterhuis and Geertsma will interview all of the students who want to learn about SPICE. These interviews are the first interactions students have with the program and plays a large role in preparing them.

“They asked me really specific questions about why I wanted to go on SPICE and what I could gain from it,” said Tori Mann, a senior who participated last year. “It was really good to have me start thinking of those things.”

The main goal of the interviews is to build relationships with the next class group as well as find suitable host families for each individual student based on their personality.

“I really appreciated the interview, it put to rest a lot of worries I had about the program,” said Mann.

In the meetings, Oosterhuis gave a general overview of Zwolle, the city where the program takes place, as well as VIAA, the school SPICE students attend. In addition to meeting with students, Oosterhuis and Geertsma will visit with various departments to update the curriculum offered for SPICE students.

“The goal is to make sure the classes are meeting the institutional requirements of both Dordt and VIAA,” says Rebecca Tervo, the new Coordinator of Off-Campus and Multicultural Student Programs. They will also tour the new hospital in Sioux Center in preparation for two Dutch students who will work there as part of their practicum in the spring semester.

“It is great for the program that they come out here to meet with students and understand where they are coming from,” said Tervo. It has proven to be useful for students in the past and will continue to be a vital part of the program for years to come.

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