Right2Education: two years and counting
Right2Education is a non-profit, educational initiative started entirely by AUC students in January 2016. Working only with volunteers, the AUC students plan, coordinate and teach Dutch and English language classes to refugees in the Netherlands. In January 2018, they celebrated their second anniversary.
Since their first class, the group has welcomed close to 200 guest students in their classrooms, while they continue to attract more volunteer teachers, buddies and partners. Offering both English and Dutch language lessons at various levels, the initiative is now aiming to provide more skill-based workshops, such as networking and CV building. Along with their official NGO status, they are continuing to initiate collaborations with various institutional and civil society actors in Amsterdam.
The past two years have been filled with highlights, but especially in the previous year there were some notable developments. First was their opportunity to speak at the European Parliament during a session that addressed the social responsibility in universities and the group feels honoured to be part of the recently born initiative that is Refugee Academy.
Also for the first time, Right2Education branched out into becoming financially self-sustainable by hosting a fundraising event for important class materials. They’ve also begun organising new events such as a walking tour of the Amsterdam Light Festival and a dance-based event in order to better facilitate local cultural components in their courses.
In addition to this, they continue to host their introductory potlucks and Arabic classes, which are taught by the guest students themselves. Right2Education has also started working with new partners such as Start-Up Village and Zeeburgia, both located in Science Park. Moreover, they are striving to make Right2Education an opportunity for their students to gain valuable skills suitable for university or other career environments. Looking to the future, the initiative wants to see themselves as a stepping stone, which is why they’ve begun incorporating CV building workshops and connecting with job platforms and entrepreneurship organisations within the VU and UvA.
Reflecting on two years of Right2Education
The current Right2Education now stands in sharp contrast to those last few months of 2015. Right2Education started off as a reaction. During the founding year, the perceived refugee crisis had reached its climax and nearly 1.2 million refugees had entered Europe, fleeing from conflict. As students, the participants of Right2Education remember watching these developments through social media screens and articles online, and grew angry at the lack of government action to provide basic needs and services.
Those AUC students also remember feeling powerless, as the crisis seemed far away, trapped in screens, while all they could do was watch. However, after a group of AUC students returned from volunteering at the Serbian-Croatian border, the stories they brought motivated a core group of students to action. With the help of AUC management, faculty, administration and students, that group founded Right2Education and held their first class in January 2016.
At the time, they referred to themselves as an “organised chaos” and were never sure if they would have enough food for lunch for the students, enough books, a room to teach in or the funds necessary to continue the project. However, they also recall that they were never alone during the process. The students were, and continue to be, the backbone of the organisation and bring their work to life. Right2Education seems to change daily, reflecting the growth and development of their students.
From the first day onward, they made an active decision to prioritise flexibility and cultivate interpersonal relationships rather than risk losing that feeling of community for the sake of expansion.
The future of Right2Education
It is that organised chaos that has come to be the heart and soul of their organisation and encompasses what Right2Education is about: peer-to-peer support, exchange, community building and having fun. Although, two years onward, they may have greater structure and are planning to create more sustainable partnerships and projects, the smiling face that permeates Right2Education will remain the same.
AUC would like to congratulate all past and current Right2Education’s team-members, while they would like to thank those who have supported their journey.
This article was written in collaboration with Right2Education’s Board 2017-2018.