Originally,” explains Antoinette Tessmer, “I kind of wanted to return the favor to UNamur for the excellent training I had been given and to make my doctorate useful to the institution. So I helped establish an exchange agreement between the UNamur and the Michigan State University (MSU). It was set up in 2011. This enables not only MSU students to discover Belgium but also UNamur students to go to Michigan.”

During their stay at the UNamur, the participants study international finance and French. They visit the European institutions, as well as some Belgian companies which are influential in finance, such as the SWIFT company for example. They are also exposed to Belgian and Namur culture and traditions: familiarization with the Lumsou (Namur currency), visit to the Warnant snail farm or the Tintin museum. They have very little knowledge of French but they are encouraged to integrate into the Namur community, in particular through daily volunteer work.

“After my doctorate at UNamur, I left to do financial research in the USA, and I have lived there for 30 years. I am very happy to be able to offer this summer school to my students and to accompany them in this enriching experience. For some of them, it is sometimes a real discovery to learn that there are other currencies than the dollar,” Antoinette tells us.

My colleague Hannah is American and is currently doing a doctorate in French at MSU. She has created an introductory French course tailored to the group, everyday French for beginners who might never speak the language again. But she's trying to plant the seed..."

Integration through volunteering

Every morning, the students all do voluntary work at the ASBL Une Main Tendue. The structure collects products, which complement those of the food bank. This solidarity makes it possible each day to considerably help more than 100 families by offering food parcels as well as meals. In the morning, unsold food is collected from donors (supermarkets, shops, individuals) and sorted by volunteers. Every day between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., food parcels (worth around €60) are distributed at the price of €3. The 40 daily meals consumed on site include a soup, a main course, a dessert and a drink. They are available at the price of 2€. There is also a take away option.

More info: https://www.unemaintende.be/  - FB: https://www.facebook.com/UMT.Namur.asbl

A long-standing agreement

For many years, the two institutions have been linked by a global agreement that enables the development of other synergies, such as international exchanges. This year, two MSU students also spent the spring semester at the UNamur. They are currently in training in Brussels. Some UNamur students also have the possibility of going on a stay at MSU.