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A group of “first-generation students” at the ALS has launched an initiative to provide support to other students whose parents never attended university (in the Netherlands). The team of buddies is made up of Özenç Turgut, Sona Shakhverdian, Alaa Kahlifa, Hasnaa Beni Driss, and the plan’s originator Ali El Hri, among others.

Students who as members of the first generation of their family take the plunge and enrol at university often face issues or have questions that they are unable to get answered. A group of “first-generation” students was all too familiar with this conundrum and decided to provide active support as “buddies”. First-generation students can contact the eminently approachable buddies via Facebook or by email to spar with them about all sorts of issues involving law studies, student life, internships, studying abroad, etc.

Feeling at home

Born and raised in Amsterdam, Ali El Hri (22) came up with the idea. “In spite of the fact that I attended university in Amsterdam, I saw little of the diversity present in the city I grew up in at lectures. I have a feeling that the fact that first-generation students sometimes feel that they ‘don’t belong’ might have something to do with this. I think that those feelings could be dispelled – more or less – if first-generation students were to realise that they do indeed belong at university.”


On their Facebook page, several buddies introduce themselves, among whom Özenç Turgut. “A committee year or a bit of experience at a law clinic might seem like the obvious thing to do, but it isn’t, really. I was fortunate enough to meet the right people; they alerted me to the options. It is important that students receive information about all the possibilities student life offers.”


First-generation students can make informal contact with the easily approachable buddies via  Facebook or by email