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News | 16.02.2024

"Clean up Oder" the winner

The best foreign students gaining knowledge at Polish universities were entered in the Interstudent competition, organized by the Educational Foundation "Perspektywy". The bar is set very high every year, because ambitious, curious about the world, active and committed young people are awarded. True leaders at their universities, who activate others to act, inspire, enrich the local environment.

This year there were a record number of entries - more than 120 - and the first-ever collective special award was given to three students from Wroclaw University of Medical Sciences, who formed a cross-continental group concerned about the environment. Helena Gebarska from Australia, Natalia Hiler from the United States and Chidubem Odera Mba coming from Nigeria/Italy - they were awarded for their environmentally friendly "Clean up Oder" team activities.

Although they are studying for a difficult medical degree, they have formed a collective committed to improving the Oder River. They have already collected 10,000 kilograms of garbage from its banks! In the winter they feed the birds living on the banks (which improves the biodiversity of the riverside fauna), and they are planning other activities, including preparing food, clothing and other things needed by people and animals for the coming months. Most importantly for them, the action attracts volunteers from within and outside the university, and each participant finishes the work with a smile on his or her face, the statement said.

The Chapter of the Interstudent Competition, which is held under the honorary patronage of the President of the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland and with the cooperation of the National Representation of Doctoral Students and the Parliament of Students of the Republic of Poland, awarded prizes, distinctions and statuettes during the conference "Foreign Students in Poland 2024" at Poznan University of Technology.

- Our students have formed a group of volunteers and are cleaning up the bank of the Oder River. Their meetings are attended by Medical University students of different years and majors, Polish and foreign. This promotes their integration and exchange of experiences. If it were not for this initiative I think most of them would never have met within the walls of the university. It is unusual that the initiators and main organizers of the cleanup campaign are foreign students who are in Wroclaw "for a while", during their studies. This testifies to their great maturity, open-minded attitude and modern outlook on the future of our planet," stresses Dr. Katarzyna Neubauer, UMW professor, associate dean of the Faculty of Medicine for English-language education at UMW.

The originator of the "Clean up Odra" project is Helena Gebarska, an Australian student, who was shocked by the beautiful but garbage-filled areas of the Odra River in Wroclaw. She infected two foreign students - Natalia Hiler from the United States and Chidubem Oder Mba from Nigeria/Italy - with her idea of cleaning up these places. - It turned out that they were also bothered by it and were eager to do something good together for others. I'm still trying to find new ideas to convince as many people as possible to participate in the cleanup," says Helena. 

From the beginning, she was supported by Natalia, who also volunteered in the United States. In Wroclaw in "Clean up Odra" she uses her photography skills. - I try to capture beautiful moments, amazing energy and smiles during our meetings," adds Natalia, who also creates posters and has lots of new ideas. The team is also Chidubem Odera Mba, social media manager, who runs the page on Instagram @cleanupodra, full of ideas and commitment. - People are eager to do something for others, something good - to clean up, to help. The Clean up Odra project provides such opportunities," says Odera.

In the 2022/2023 academic year, the number of foreign students in Poland will exceed the 100,000 barrier for the first time, according to the "Foreign Students in Poland 2023" report published by the "Perspektywy" Educational Foundation, based on data from the Central Statistical Office, which also takes into account incoming exchange students. Foreign students now account for more than 8.61 percent of the total number of students in our country, which means that we have reached the European average in this regard. Europeans are the most likely to choose to study in Poland, accounting for more than 72 percent of all students. The second group is made up of people from Asia -16.5 percent. As in the previous year, the number of students from Africa has increased.

Authored by: Monika Szymańska-Antosiak Creation date: 16.02.2024 Update authored by: Monika Szymańska-Antosiak Update date: 05.03.2024