Wetskills-The Netherlands 2023, 28th of Oct0ber 2023 (by Lívia Beatriz Machado de Almeida, IHE)
The day started slowly with the participants arriving and train delays but eventually, most people got to the hostel and were ready to go! Turns out we got participants coming from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and North America!
First things first, our hostel is definitely noteworthy. We are staying in the cube houses, one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Rotterdam! The architecture is very unusual and interesting, having been envisioned by Piet Blom in 1977 with the idea that each building would represent a tree and together the conglomerate of trees would become a forest in the middle of the city. Within the conglomerate, you can find not only houses but hotels and businesses.
Moving on from the history lesson, once the participants got acquainted with the angles of their rooms, we all gathered downstairs for a team-building activity. The idea was for us to present ourselves and share the reason why we chose to come to Wetskills and what we were expecting from it. Independently of how shy people were and how easily they could come up with a clear concept for their introduction, the interaction was fun and everyone got to know a little bit more of one another. In our group, there are students, PhDs, and workers involved in different water sectors such as sanitation, water quality, flood risk, and governance.
After a short break, we picked up our jetlagged selves and went on a walking tour in Rotterdam. Gladly and surprisingly the day was beautiful and sunny! It made the walk by the old bridge, the riverside, the Erasmus Bridge, and the city center very pleasant. During the walk our widely informed organizers taught us a bit of Rotterdam’s history, highlighting the most famous structures, important people who have lived in the city, such as Erasmus, a theologian, educationalist, and philosopher, and the impact of the second world war in the city, resulting in its modern and unusual aesthetic, when compared with the rest of the Netherlands.
After the walking tour and some time to freshen up, it was time to have dinner. We enjoyed a good spread with a couple of soups, salad, and chili and managed to interact some more in a more relaxed way.
At the end of the day, those who still had some energy to spare decided to head to a bar to watch the rugby finals, as South Africa was playing and we got a couple representatives from the county in our group. The hang-out was a lot of fun, we learned the South African anthem and some of the rugby rules while having some drinks. Fortunately, the night ended with South Africa winning!