A stall set by two Seychellois students was voted the best at an international day celebration at the NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.
The stall set up by students Pia Pool and Aisha Louange brought the warmth and colour of their home islands to a new audience of students and staff of the university located 8,000 kilometres from Seychelles.
According to David Proctor, senior lecturer at the university, the Seychellois booth was by far the most popular stand with the students introducing their peers to delights such as Ladobe (root crops cooked in sugar and coconut milk), gato piman (chilli cakes) and salad mang (mango salad).
"A full-sized replica of the coco-de-mer drew much attention, and the beautiful images of Seychelles captivated the audience on a cool autumn day in northern Europe," said Proctor.
The stand was voted the best by students and organisers of the event.
Home to 23,000 students studying a variety of subjects, the university hosts the largest hospitality management programme in Europe with some 2,500 students enrolled.
Pool and Louange are at the university as international hospitality management students.
"International Day at NHL Stenden was exhilarating! Over 30 countries participated and the Seychelles stand was voted the best stand by organisers and participants. Pia and I were really happy to have had the opportunity to showcase our home to over 400 students and teachers with food and music from Seychelles," said Louange.
Louange, a second-year student from Praslin - the second-most populated islands of Seychelles, has become a prominent spokesperson for fellow students and liaises with academic staff on their behalf.
She recently represented the institution at the Eurhodip conference in Istanbul highlighting entrepreneurial skills.
"Being able to represent my country at my university with another Seychellois was an amazing opportunity. Since our islands are still pretty unknown, I enjoyed introducing my culture to other students for the very first time," said Pool - a first-year student.
Proctor, who is no stranger to Seychelles -- 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, joined the girls in the stand promoting the islands.
Proctor previously worked in the island nation for the Ecole Hotelière at Belombre, (predecessor of the Seychelles Tourism Academy) as well as in different hotels.
The lecturer was also married to a Seychellois national and still retains fond memories of Seychelles and still has many friends here.
"Aisha and Pia felt honoured to showcase Seychelles at this event and deserve credit for acting not only as de facto ambassadors but as great representatives of the country's young people," added Proctor.
Both students - the only Seychellois at the university - have adapted well to their new environment and are doing very well in their studies.
"Being able to study in the Netherlands, a country where countless opportunities present themselves for international students, has been great so far," said Pool who has excelled academically, obtaining the highest grades amongst almost 150 students in her first module.
On her part, Louange said she is enjoying her time in Leeuwarden, the International Hospitality Management course at Stenden Hotel Management School, which offers students local and international opportunities within the hospitality industry through a design-based and real-world learning education.
"Life off-campus is relaxed in the quaint cultural town of Leeuwarden which has an interesting history of arts and infrastructure. This small town is conveniently located to allow for the discovery of many other European countries, only a few hours away by train," Louange said, adding: "You are sure to see a bicycle anywhere you look and there is always fast food available for a late-night 'bitterballen' snack."