Toespraak van Prinses Máxima tijdens het seminar ‘Science without Borders’ te Brasilia

19 november 2012

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Intelligent minds… How to develop them and how to cooperate here.
The football star Romário de Souza Faria well remembers the day, back in 1988, that he arrived in Europe.
He was 22 years old.
Several years later, sharing his memories with a journalist, he said:
'It was minus 13 degrees that day; or perhaps minus three. Awfully cold, anyhow! And it had been 43 degrees in Rio, when I left.'
You know, moving from South America to Europe is a big step - and I should know.
Especially when you're young.
And you get on a plane without knowing what to expect.
But thanks to Romário, Brazilians know at least two things about the Netherlands.
It's cold.
And you have to watch out for apple sauce - a traditional Dutch sauce - which is served at almost every meal.
But it would be a shame if Brazilian students let themselves be put off by the Dutch weather, the food, or the language.
There is a Dutch proverb that goes 'unknown is unloved'. Well, let's do something to change that.
Let's not forget that the Netherlands has a lot to offer young people.
Here are just a few facts:

  1. 12 out of the Netherlands' 13 universities appear in the latest Times Higher Education world university rankings.
  2. More than half of all Dutch master's courses are given in English.
  3. Last year 11.2 per cent of all students in the Netherlands came from abroad.

In other words, 87,000 students from all over the world came to study in the Netherlands last year.
It's the place to be - right in the middle of Western Europe.
London is an hour away by plane.
Germany is just down the road from many university towns.
And Paris is less than three hours away by train.
So studying in the Netherlands means studying in Europe.
With students from around the world.
What brings them to the Netherlands is the approach to education, which is multidisciplinary, practical and problem-based.
Students can learn from one another - thanks to the open academic climate.
Where there is freedom to ask questions about anything. And I tell you, the Dutch do.
Where there is always scope for debate and discussion.
Where students are challenged through exchanging views - both with each other and with their teachers.
Brazilian universities excel in knowledge about sustainability: about alternative fuels and improving crops.
Dutch universities have a wealth of knowledge about agriculture, civil engineering, architecture and logistics, including on the development of a bio-based economy and the protection of coastal cities due to climate change.
We want to impart this knowledge to our students, and watch it spread and grow.
Because we know that today's students will, in the future, be working all over the world.
Working together on the major challenges of our times - food scarcity, climate change and energy security.
They will be global citizens sharing the same concerns.
So students are a smart investment.
Of course, that isn't news to you.
Or to President Dilma.
And Brazil's private sector is certainly aware of it.
The Brazilian government and Brazilian companies have jointly invested 1.5 billion dollars in a scholarship programme for top Brazilian students to study abroad.
We warmly welcome such initiatives.
Like the programme developed by Nuffic and the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development. This is a special programme for the Netherlands entitled 'Science without Borders Holland'.
2,500 Brazilian scholarships for Brazilian students.
For 2,500 students to enrol in bachelor or PhD degree programmes, or post-doc courses.
We really look forward to welcoming these 2,500 young Brazilians to the Netherlands.
And to them I say: don't let the apple sauce, the little differences or the climate stop you.
I always say there is no such thing as bad weather but bad gear. Just make sure you're prepared.
An experience abroad is something that will stay with you for life.
You won't just take the memories home with you, but a global network.
And the Netherlands will help you stay in touch with these contacts.
Alumni can join an established network of Brazil-based diplomats and companies.
They can also take part in workshops and activities organised by a special network for alumni in Brazil.
So that you will never forget the day you arrived in the Netherlands.
Romário remembered 'The cold, the language, the customs… it took some getting used to.'
But you will find living in Holland will broaden your horizons, double your knowledge and expand your world.
You know what Romário concluded? He said: 'The Netherlands made a man out of me.'
Thank you.