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From February 26th until March 1st, we had the unique opportunity to visit the Anton de Kom University in Suriname. The goal of our visit was to assess possibilities for cooperation between our mathematics institute and the math department in Paramaribo.

The Anton de Kom university is the only university in Suriname and is located in the west of Paramaribo. It currently has around 4000 students spread over four faculties. They offer a three year bachelor degree in mathematics, which is offered every two years to a fixed number of twenty students. The teaching staff consists of about ten teachers, offering a curriculum that looks similar to European mathematics curricula apart from the fact that they offer fewer optional courses in year two and three. 

The campus of the Anton de Kom University.

This visit was inspired from various other previous collaborations between the two programs, and the two countries in general. Professor Shanti Venetiaan is one of the driving forces of these collaborations. She studied mathematics at the University of Leiden and then obtained a PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 1994 (you can read an interview with her here). Currently the Aïda Paalman-de Miranda foundation, named in honor of Ietje Paalman-de Miranda, a former professor from the UvA of Surinamese origin, offers two students from the Anton de Kom University the possibility to do an exchange semester at the UvA. Building on Diletta's experience with establishing collaborations with the Global South, we decided to organize a visit to the Anton de Kom University to find ways to expand this connection!

Some images from Paramaribo.

During our stay we held several meetings with the teaching staff and students of the mathematics program at Anton de Kom University. These discussions centered around crucial topics such as structuring bachelor projects, offering joint advanced courses, and fostering research collaborations. It was a very inspiring experience to be in a country on the other side of the globe with a very different culture, and realize that we have so many ideas in common regarding mathematics education.

Overall, the atmosphere during the visit was very positive, and offered a good stepping stone to enhance the collaboration between the Anton de Kom University and the Mathematics Institute at the UvA. We listened with mutual respect to each other's ideas and the discussions converged rather quickly to small and concrete joint projects which could support them in achieving some of their goals. This trip was only the beginning of a new journey, with mathematics and education as its building blocks!