Pada tanggal 28 Januari 2015, Kuswanto dalam kapasitasnya sebagai Ketua PPI Groningen mendapatkan undangan untuk hadir pada Symposium yang diselenggarakan oleh Globalisation Studies of University of Groningen. Seminar merupakan high level conversation yang dihadiri oleh 20an peserta dari unsur universitas, city of Groningen dan companies.
Hadir dari unsur universitas Groningen adalah 1) Rektor RUG, Prof. dr. E. Sterken; 2) Dean Faculty of Art, Gerry Waker; 3) Secretary for international classroom project, Franka van den Hende; 4) Dean of Religious studies, Prof. Kocku van Stuckrad; 5) Associate Professor Faculty of Spatial Science, Dr. Bettina van Hoven dari Spatial Science; 6) Head of Faculty Development, Institute for Medical Education, Dr. Kevin Haines dan 7) Prof. Sabine Otten. Dari unsur universitas di luar Groningen hadir 1) Wakil Rector Leiden University, Simone Buitendijk; dan 2) Prof. Karen M. Lauridsen, Aarhus University, Denmark.
Hadir dari unsur pemerintah Belanda yaitu 1) Carlien Scheele, Direktur Emansipasi, Kementerian Pendidikan Belanda; 2) Mattias Gijsbertsen Alderman, head of emancipation and diversity agenda; 3) Ferdi Hendriks, economic development officer, City of Groningen; 4) Sanne Smid, director Discriminatie Meldpunt Groningen, dan 4) Kathalijne Buitenweg, Komisioner Human Right
Dari unsur business hadir Kristel van der Horst, Head of Diversity KPN
Dari unsur student hadir pada symposium tersebut adalah; 1) Takudzwa Samantha Mutezo, Representative of International Student, University Council; 2) Kuswanto, Chairman of Indonesian Student Association; 3) Marjolijn de Voogd, Board Member, External Relations dan 4) Alexandra Crisan, University Council of Groningen.
Tema yang dibahas pada symposium tersebut adalah mengenai apa yang universitas dan pemerintah kota Groningen dapat lakukan untuk mendukung international students dan minoritas.
Pada kesempatan tersebut PPIG menyampaikan presentasi sebagai berikut:
I am Kuswanto, Chairman of Indonesian Student Association in Groningen (PPIG) and also a member of SINGA Research project managed by Dr. Ronald Holzhacker. I am doing PhD in Department of International Relations and International Organization, Faculty of Art under supervision of Professor Herman Hoen and Dr. Ronald Holzhacker. Before back to campus, I was Head of subdivision for cooperation between governments and foreign enterprises, and planner at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Indonesia. Currently I have been serving as the Chairman of Indonesian Student Association since last November.
PPIG is an association for Indonesian student in Groningen, established in 1998 and aimed to organize some activities for members and to strengthen the relationship between Indonesian people and the Dutch and international communities in Groningen. Our current members are approximately 300 people. Every year, the number is growing since University of Groningen has some dual degree programs with University of Indonesia, Gajah Mada University and Technical Bandung Institution, three of the most prestigious universities in Indonesia.
PPIG is a very active organization, which arrange 27 activities during a year. There are four biggest yearly events that are Embracing Indonesian People (28 February), an event with Indonesian Embassy to unite all Indonesian students and Indonesian people in Groningen; Indonesian Day and Dinner (April), an event to promote Indonesian cultures that Mr. President Poppema always attend; Groens Cup (23 – 24 May), a two days sport competition event that involves Indonesian student association in 17 cities in Netherlands; and Celebration of Independent Days (August). We were held an intercultural exchange with Dutch student association last December, ICHTUS and wanted to expand it to more bigger event in the next future.
Considering the role of PPIG and the increasing number of Indonesian students along with massive promotion and cooperation projects between RUG and some Indonesian universities and some Ministries, I am on behalf of Indonesian students in Groningen would like to contribute to this seminar by providing some overviews on how the University of Groningen and the city of Groningen can respond the diversity of students and residents based on some experiences of Indonesian students as a minority in the society.
First, we hope universities can play more roles in supporting settlement process of new students in Groningen. Despite the financial supports from University for PhD candidates through housing subsidy, the housing remains a big issue for new Indonesian students. For PhD candidates with family, finding suitable housing that meet with the income criteria is really a tough process. Getting house from private company is very expensive in term of service costs and also the rental cost. For many PhD students with family, they spent in range of 900 – 1,000 euro for renting the housing (include gas, water, electricity) from 1,500 monthly living allowance. Some solution is finding housing through some social housing agency such as woningnet and MVGM which provide low rental cost. We hope the university can support them through mediation between some social housing agency and new coming students. Furthermore, for PhD student who are single and couple, after getting subsidy from the University, they are required to live in Housing Office with high price. Some of students are questioning the requirement to live in the housing office to get subsidy. Is that the policy of university or housing office policy? In fact, many rooms are offered for single with lower prices outside the housing office.
Second, the university needs to inform the policy of tuition fee. Some PhD students who get scholarship from their country paid tuition fee but some other students who also have scholarship from the country don’t pay the tuition fee. In fact, the facilities given from universities are similar. We want some explanation if we can use part of the tuition fee for our research project.
Third, the city of Groningen arrange an annual event called Let’s Grow which aims to bridge international students to gather with Dutch people. We suggest the university can provide a similar event that provides opportunities for all international students association to gather. As my experience during my study in the US, the most universities are arranging an event called International Day during the summer. All international students organization are invited to perform the cultural arts. At the same time the Food Bazar are provided. I felt those events are very useful to bridge intercultural diversity among students.
Fourth, after tragedy in Carlie Hebdo, Paris many of people might think negatively toward Islam. As many Indonesian students are moslem, we want to convey the message that what happened in the Charlie Hebdo is not representative of Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion that does not tolerate the violence. We do not also agree with creativities or activities that insult any religion in the world. I also want to tell you that in Groningen, we are really happy because we are not much affected by that incident. There were no report from our members that they got such intimidation and unfair treatment from people and public officials. I have to appreciate the good tolerance from Groningen people. However, in order to anticipate something negative happened in the future, we would love if the University and the City can provide information about organization that help people from discrimination.
Lastly, now the number of moslem students are increasing. We have a ritual activity named, Sholat Jumat every Friday. This is an activity like what Christian do every Sunday in the curch. Now, in Groningen there are only two mosques are available, and those mosque are using Arabic and Turkish language and none of them using English. Furthermore, those mosques are very crowded every moment of Sholat Jumat. Therefore, the objective of Sholat Jumat to learn and remember lesson of our religion are not fulfilled effectively. As part of supporting the diversity, we would love if the University can provide a big room only for Sholat Jumat for moslem students every Friday afternoon, so we can arrange Sholat Jumat with English speech.
Those are short overview of Indonesian Student Association and some points that can be considered by the university and the city of Groningen.
Mengingat waktu yang sangat terbatas, maka semua pendapat ditampung dan dijadikan rekomendasi untuk University dalam rangka memperbaiki pelayanan terhadap seluruh stakeholders.
GRONINGEN, 29 JANUARI 2015