NFP Alumni Event in Havana builds bridges among Cuba, Nicaragua and Guatemala
Karen de Man
This NFP Alumni Event on “Nexus Water- Food in Coastal Zones” took place in Havana, Cuba on 28 and 29 March and was organised by Nuffic in cooperation with IHE-Delft and was made possible by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event brought together 35 water experts from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, to share and exchange knowledge and experiences on challenges in the water sector. The participants were from different generations and had different areas of expertise, such as agriculture, water management, coastal areas, climate change; they received their degree at IHE-Delft, Wageningen University, ITC and Radio Nederland Training Centre. The event was enriched by a combination of thematic sessions, networking gatherings and field visits. It was an honor to have Minister Jet Bussemaker, who led a Ministerial Education mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cuba, speak at the opening of the NFP alumni event. “I’m glad that all of you studied in The Netherlands,” the Minister said to the alumni and pointed out that they had contributed to the creation of an international classroom. “This is what we really try to do, also by this type of events, to build bridges and to promote the internationalisation, to stimulate students to study abroad but also to provide Dutch students who cannot study at an international university, to receive international knowledge”, Minister Bussemaker highlighted. Therefore, this first NFP Alumni event in Cuba not only boosted the cooperation between alumni of the three countries - Cuba, Guatemala and Nicaragua - but also positioned Cuban professionals, who studied in the Netherlands on water-related disciplines, among their Caribbean neighbors. Another important moment was when The Netherlands Embassy in Cuba opened its doors to the first alumni gathering in Cuba, and hosted a reception for all Cuban alumni from all sectors. In addition, the Netherlands Ambassador to Cuba, Mrs. Alexandra Valkenburg, and the Minister, as a symbol of the cooperation between the Netherlands and Cuba, awarded a special diploma to IHE-Delft and CUJAE, the Cuban Technical University, to acknowledge the cooperation between them, which will be strengthened even further with the implementation of a Nuffic funded Refresher Course to be implemented in September 2017. Various NFP thematic alumni events will be carried out throughout 2017, in a dozen of countries, and Cuba was the first one of them. We trust that each one of the NFP alumni events will promote the concept of the Triple Helix of university-industry-government relationships towards innovation. And that they will provide a space where learning and exchange of experiences will be strengthened among NFP alumni, being the actual local professionals, Dutch and National Universities, public officials, private sector representatives and Dutch Embassy staff in the respective countries.