The event brought together over two hundred international students, alumni, as well as universities and regional partners.
This year's meetup is a follow-up to the first Student and Alumni Meetup, which took place in Prague in 2019. This Thursday, students who are completing short-term or full-time studies at Czech universities could meet together with other international alumni at Radlická Kulturní sportovna in Prague. The event, which was organized under the banner of the Study in Czechia and Czechia Alumni initiatives, offered a platform for the exchange of experience in working with international students to representatives of universities, regional centres and other organizations.
Czechia Alumni, an opportunity for universities
Among the 220 participants were also students from the Study in Czechia ambassadors and alumni involved in the Czechia Alumni initiative, who could share their experience and know-how with the representation of Czech universities and Czechia. Both of our initiatives help to connect international alumni and students with domestic institutions as well as the private sector and spread the good name of Czechia abroad.
"This event is just one of many meetings we have been organising recently. We are currently organising a series of meetups for graduates and students abroad in cooperation with Czech Centres and Czech embassies. We are helping universities to keep in touch with their alumni and enable them to continue working with them, while we are also enabling Czech Centres and embassies abroad to do the same abroad. Last but not least, the meetups also allow us to work with alumni at the national level," explained Aneta Sargeant, Head of Study in Czechia at the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research. Thanks to this cooperation, this year we have co-organized similar meetings in Sweden, Spain and Moldova, and we are planning another one in the USA.
"It is very rewarding for universities to be in constant contact with their international students, because their feedback allows them to continuously improve. In that way, they can improve their services not only to international students, but eventually also to Czech students. And it is extremely important for Czech universities to learn to work not only with international students, but also with each other. The Czechia Alumni programme is a wonderful opportunity that connects Czech universities and gives them the opportunity to promote themselves abroad collectively," Lenka Henebergová, Vice Dean for Internationalisation and International Relations at Charles University, summarised the benefits of university cooperation under the Czechia Alumni banner.
Michal Uhl, Director of DZS, at the opening of the meetup. Photo: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec
Life-long positive relationship
To make it easier for all participants to make new contacts and exchange experiences, we prepared networking activities and a moderated evening for them during the meetup, hosted by Jen Dream Prague, a graduate of Charles University and a YouTuber from the USA living in Prague. She understands very well the situation of students from other cultures coming to study to Czechia. "The fact that I'm a graduate of Charles University not only makes me proud, but this experience makes me feel like I'm not just an immigrant or a tourist - I feel like I'm sharing a piece of Czech history with others," expressed Jen, a feeling shared by other international alumni.
For some students and graduates, a foreign country becomes a second home for the duration of their stay and they develop a special relationship with it. Czech universities know this and do not underestimate the importance of working with alumni. It is therefore crucial to maintain these contacts so that the positive and mutually beneficial relationship does not fade. "As we say at ČZU, it doesn't end with graduation. We want to keep in touch with our graduates and inform them about the activities and events we organise. We also want to inform them about possible opportunities offered by their alma mater, whether it is future cooperation or some form of mentoring. And especially international alumni often have a warm relationship with the country they have linked several years of their lives with," described the importance of fostering relationships with alumni Lukáš Pospíšil, Head of International Relations at the Czech University of Life Sciences.
Not only right, but mutually beneficial as well
The study experience gained at a Czech university often helps international students in their future careers. Perhaps even bigger, however, is the impact it has on their open-mindedness to the world and to the international environment, be it educational, professional or cultural. However, the effect is mutual. In the same way that Czech universities shape international students, they enrich the domestic education system and its public and private sectors with new approaches, knowledge and skills. As a result, they raise the level of quality not only of the universities themselves, but also of the labour market and contribute to the development of the whole society.
Photo: Petr Zewalkk Vrabec.
"It is very important that Czechia maintains contact with its international alumni. Those who stay here form an integral part of the Czech economy and those who return to their home country have a lifelong positive relationship with Czechia and thus become its ambassadors. The moment they develop any international cooperation, Czechia is often their first choice. Therefore, strengthening the relationship with international alumni is very beneficial," said Michal Uhl, director of the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research, indirectly assessing the importance of meetups for international students and alumni who have one thing in common - a good experience with Czech higher education, education and culture, and at the same time a desire to participate in the further growth of their second home.
Author: Marek Bartoš, DZS