On Monday 3 February 2020, the College of Europe invited the host families and their students to a reception at the City Hall of Bruges to celebrate and highlight the unique host family project that was created in 2009. Since then, the number of families involved in the project has been steadily increasing. In 2020 we are proud to say that over 50 families are inviting around 100 students to their homes.
Therefore, we wanted to express our gratitude towards all the families currently contributing to this precious project with a convivial drink offered by the mayor and an official ceremony with speeches delivered by the mayor of Bruges, Mr Dirk DE FAUW; Rector Jörg MONAR and Mr Bertil VAN OUTRYVE D'YDEWALLE, alumnus of the College of Europe and a great supporter of the project who stood on the first row when Julie ORTEGAT-TRAEN from Student Affairs Office came up with the idea during a creative brainstorm.
The honourable speakers stressed the importance of the host families with regard to the integration of the students in the local community as they are all becoming ambassadors for the medieval city that plays a huge role in their year at our postgraduate institute of European studies. And even years after their graduation our alumni stay in touch with the host families who made their year in Bruges a truly life-changing and unforgettable experience.
Over the years, the dedicated families and our students shared so many wonderful and different experiences. The aim: to familiarize our international students with the city of Bruges and the wider region. Local citizens Wim Debacker, Hilde Cloet and their daughter Ruth have been a very active and dynamic host family of numerous College of Europe students over the past 10 years and stay in regular contact with all of them. On 17 November 2019 they even invited all their past and current host students to meet up in Brussels for a cultural visit and some drinks afterwards.
"With the students of the College of Europe, it always feels like travelling. Every year again we meet 2 or 3 students every six weeks for a Sunday lunch and social or cultural activities like a bike ride to the gorgeous picturesque town of Damme, a trip to the seaside of Blankenberge or a visit to the nature reserve of Het Zwin in Knokke. We enjoy their dreams and ambitions. We sympathize with their families and get to know their country of origin."
As the host families and the students, coming from all over the world, meet up on a regular basis, their connection is growing stronger and more intense. Wim and Hilde can only confirm that: "We chat, laugh and discuss a lot at the kitchen table. As a city guide, I try to transmit to our students a bit of love for our beloved city of Bruges. One academic year is unfortunately too short to get to know them to the fullest and it is always hard to let loose at the end of the academic year."
The Host Family Drink on Monday evening, containing nice testimonials delivered by several host families and students, was the ideal setting to thank all our incredible host families for what they have been doing for our students over these past years, welcoming the students into their home and making them feel at home in the stunning city of Bruges and its surroundings. The College of Europe would like to sincerely thank all of them and we are looking forward to many more successful years.
Also interested in becoming a host family? More information here.