Belgium Campus Academic Opening- Inspire Your World
Held on the first Thursday in February, the Official Opening of the Academic Year is one of Belgium Campus’s most prestigious events. Over the years, the ceremony has lost none of its significance as students, parents, sponsors, staff, and honoured guests gather to celebrate the new academic year.
As is tradition, the day kicked off with the annual fun day. With this year’s theme being “Inspire Your World”, students worked together, inspiring each other to achieve goals set out by the day’s activities. These activities were dancing in the hall, drumming, building gliders and playing volleyball in the park, and putting together our giant Inspire Your World mosaic map using recycled materials.
As dusk fell, the day’s fun gave way to the glamour which accompanies the official opening of every Academic Year. The ceremony began with a rousing performance by the Belgium Campus Choir, ushering in the Belgium Campus Senate and academic staff. The ceremony was opened with the National Anthem and a prayer by senate member Mr. S Mundeta, who then handed over to Belgium Campus Chairman and Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Prof. JK Rombouts.
Belgium Campus hosted a number of respected guest speakers from government and academia. The first speaker to take to the podium was MMC for Economic Development and Planning for the City of Tshwane, Councillor S Pillay. In his speech, Cllr. Pillay explained the importance and significance that the City of Tshwane places on education, and how the city plans to use ICT to improve the lives of its citizens. Following Cllr. Pillay was the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Technology, KU Leuven, Prof. Dr. K Willems. Prof. Dr. Willems highlighted the unique nature of Belgium Campus, making subtle reference to the Participative Model of Education “We are very interested, even fascinated by the Belgium Campus educational concept and we call it education for the real world.” He also gave insight into Belgium Campus and KU Leuven’s future plans “I bring you a strong commitment for collaboration in the future, and if you want to know more specifically what it means, I can tell you we are interested in, and will collaborate in establishing an academic 2 year Masters Programme”.
Dr. S Essack, Director of Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEI) at the Department Higher Education and Training (DHET) also made reference to Belgium Campus’s Participative model: “Belgium Campus has a unique model which many students find appealing, and they would rather go to Belgium (Campus) instead of a public university. This is the strength of Belgium Campus.” Dr. Essack also added: “The good work done by Belgium Campus is an example of what is possible when you have vision, passion and focus, and it has in many ways an excellent example with what can be done with exploratory learning”. Dr. Essack was followed by Prof. M Joris with a short presentation that really simplified the idea and purpose of Belgium Campus. Using the 1949 French movie Jour De Fête as a fitting metaphor, Prof. Joris highlighted the importance of practice, vision, determination and taking bold steps to achieve your goals, all qualities emphasised by the Campus.
Belgium Campus also had the honour and privilege of hosting Head of the EU Delegation, H.E. Roeland van de Geer. Given the presence of such a high ranking official, and the admiration he has for the campus, further emphasises the important role Belgium Campus plays in the developing professionals who go on to advance and grow the economy.
Addressing the audience following the Ambassador was Vice Chancellor of Belgium Campus, Prof. Jacobs. Using the symbols of the Belgium Campus crest and the previous years’ themes iStart, Futurefit and Connect, Prof. Jacobs highlighted what Belgium Campus stood for and how it has always challenged the traditional role and responsibility of a modern university. That challenge has culminated in the belief that “The University has the task and the responsibility of leading the way”. A sentiment echoed by all those who had earlier praised Belgium Campus for its ability to create professionals and knowledge which benefits the world around them.
The last guest speaker of the evening was Minister Counsellor Patrick De Bouck from the Embassy of Belgium. Min. Cllr. De Bouck was tasked with officially declaring the academic year open, before doing so, he shared a few words aimed particularly at the students “IT is a very challenging field of study and an interesting career is awaiting you all. Not only because you will easily find a job, as we learn from your colleagues that are graduating now, but also because IT is present everywhere in our daily life”. He also went on to praise Belgium Campus for its ability to integrate education with the needs of the industry “Moreover, over the years, the Belgium Campus has proved that matching training with the needs of the private sector is possible. They have succeeded in setting up a permanent dialogue with the private sector so that their training clearly responds to the needs of the labour market. At the same time, close collaboration with the private sector confronts all participants, already during their training with the reality in the workplace and prepares you better for their future employment”.
The evening’s proceedings also included various musical intermezzi. These were performed by the Belgium Campus choir under the leadership of Chris Coetzer and a solo performance by Venetia Rose. Guests were also treated to two inserts performed by Alexander Jacobs on the violin and Arjen van Renssen on the cello.
The evening closed off with Gaudeamus Igitur performed by the Belgium Campus choir as the Senate and staff led out. As they did, the atmosphere was filled with pride and admiration not only for what was achieved last year, but what will be achieved in 2015!
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