On 28 and 29 March the first Thematic Alumni event took place in La Havana, Cuba. The event was organized by IHE Delft, in partnership with ´Instituto para la Investigación de la Industria Alimentaria´ IIIA and ´Universidad Tecnológica de La Habana, Jose Antonio Echeverria´ CUJAE, with financial support of Nuffic. This event was held during the mission of H.E. Mrs. Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands and Ministers of the Netherlands Islands in the Caribbean region to Cuba.
The event focusing on ‘Water Food Nexus in Coastal Zones’, was attended by 31 alumni from Cuba, Nicaragua and Guatemala. It facilitated an exchange of experiences among alumni facing similar problems in their professional capacities. It was also an opportunity to share knowledge on matters such as the reuse of treated wastewater, use of saline water for non-potable uses, latest developments on flood risk management, as well as the eco-friendly use and recovery of resources in food processing industries.
Although the majority of participants had studied at IHE Delft, there were also graduates from other Dutch educational institutions, such as Wageningen University, ITC Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation and Radio Nederland Training Center, creating an ideal occasion for alumni to share their knowledge and get together.
Part of the programme involved disseminating the results of two projects developed by IHE Delft and partner Institutions, CUJAE and IIIA in Cuba. Coordinated by Dr. Carlos M. Lopez Vazquez, Associate Professor of Wastewater Treatment Technology, the project ´More Water for Everybody´ tries to reduce the demand of liquid in urban areas by using saline water as alternative source; while Project REAL, led by Dr. Hector Garcia, Senior Lecturer in Wastewater Treatment Technology, aimed at strengthening the Cuban sectors related to the production of food and water.
Thanks to the support received from The Netherlands in terms of technology, know how and training, alumni knew first-hand part of the Project REAL, performed in coordination with IIIA and EDTA ‘Empresa de desarrollo de tecnologias acuicolas’. This project has validated an aquaculture system to increase the production of fish in Cuba, resulting in four years of continuous work in the production of Claria specie. On the other hand, Project ´More Water for Everybody´, performed in collaboration with Universidad Tecnologica de La Habana, Jose Antonio Echeverria CUJAE, proposes the use of saline water in toilets, as a feasible alternative in Cuba’s tourism development. This could reduce the consumption of fresh water by 15-25%, as well as the treatment of wastewater with membrane bioreactors (MBR), to such a degree that the treated wastewater can be reused. Last but not least, both projects include capacity development and training courses to facilitate the dissemination of the knowledge gathered from the projects and their long-term sustainability. Both projects have the financial support of the European Union.
Prof. Luis Cordova and Prof. Orestes Gonzalez, IHE alumni, led a session on adaptation to climate change. Ms. Maria Laura Sorrentino, IHE Delft Alumni Relations Officer and Nancy Alexaki, Senior Policy Officer at Nuffic ran sessions on alumni policy, how to keep connected and future activities. Alumni discussed the future relationship with IHE Delft and Nuffic, and shared ideas about all the possibilities offered by both Institutions, for exchanging knowledge and information.
The programme concluded with visits to the REAL project and the Malecon.
An important moment of the event was the visit of H.E. Mrs. Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, H.E. Alexandra Valkenburg, Netherlands Ambassador in La Havana. The Minister addressed the alumni, who had the opportunity to talk about their work and to discuss future collaborations. Mrs Bussemaker recognized the leadership role and the strength of an Institute like IHE Delft.
Exhibition sessions, combined with networking spaces, made it possible to strengthen relationships among alumni, and between them, IHE Delft, Nuffic and the Netherlands Embassy in Cuba.
All alumni showed great interest in the topics of the event, and welcomed the chance to become aware of the development of projects with impact for their country and the region..
Reporter Mrs. Maria del Carmen Ramon alumna Radio Nederland Training Center
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´The IHE Thematic Alumni Event was magnificent. Of great interest were the conferences presented, as well as the networking between alumni. I congratulate the organizers and all the people who contributed to the achievement of this event.´ Alumna Sonia Orue Valdes
´The event was great. Really very enriching professionally and humanely, I congratulate all the Cuban and Dutch organizers of the event.´ Alumnus Alexey Gonzalez
‘An excellent event. It was an honour meet and greet the Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands and be able to discuss with her about our work and future collaborations.’ Alumnus William Mayola Ledesma
First alumni Alumni Gathering in Cuba
During the Thematic Alumni Event, on 28th March, the first alumni gathering in Cuba was held at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in La Havana. More than 50 alumni from different institutes attended the gathering that was an ideal setting to strengthen ties between alumni and the Netherlands Institutions.
Ms. Alexandra Valkenburg, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Havana opened the event and welcomed the delegation of the Ministries of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Netherlands’ institutions , guests and the alumni.
At the event, Minister Jet Bussemaker addressed the attendees and certified the financial support to hold a Refresher Course in Cuba, next September 2017, for Latin American students, funded by Nuffic and organized by IHE Delft, in collaboration with two Cuban partners.
All alumni had the chance during the Alumni gathering to meet and greet H.E. Minister Bussemaker, as well as discuss possibilities of cooperation with the Netherlands’ Education Ministries.
From now on, members of IHE's vast community of graduates in Cuba will be better connected, waiting for new opportunities to share knowledge and experiences and also sharing the experience of having studied at an institution like IHE Delft.