Is the student of the future now standing up during this corona crisis?

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v.l.n.r: Jasper Veen (MSc. Space Flight TU Delft), Thijs de Jongh (BSc. Technische Wiskunde, BSc. Technische Natuurkunde, TU Delft), Amber Nagelhout (BSc. Actuarial Science & Econometrics, UvA) & Naut van Teeseling (BSc. Actuarial Science & Econometrics, UvA)

Am I serving enough in this new reality? This is a crucial question that every one
student must be honest during this corona crisis. Although we as a society go to
we also have some certainties. One of them is our time-honored
principles no longer work today. Not yours, nor mine. What really becomes
expect us for our future reality?

In this bizarre time, you find out that you have a lot of news to learn. This requires a different open attitude, which gives different responsibilities. So accept that you have to rediscover yourself, that you can help shape the new reality.

Bring a smile

I myself have learned more in the past six weeks on a human level than in any previous year. Why? In the middle of March, I spontaneously started the volunteer initiative gewoonmensen.nl (ordinary people) one evening with three fellow students. We wanted to help vulnerable people from our hearts in this uncertain time. Fortunately, that got solid ground very quickly. From that time on, our thousands of volunteers help the vulnerable with daily requests for help. A smile on their face is the great result.

The new standard

The special principle of gewoonmensen.nl is clear. Two groups – traditionally
are further apart – now unite. A student helps any elderly person. You look further than your own grandfather, grandmother or neighbor. From a new standard we just help each other with daily help questions: with shopping, walking the dog, installing a digital platform for video calling or with (digital) homework guidance for the children. For example, we link concrete requests for help to a volunteer on a daily basis.

Warm conversations

I am responsible for all individual requests for help that arrive on our platform
come. Because there is a lot of automation happening, it is difficult to see whether everyone is actually being helped. To find out, anyone who has placed a request for help will be called back. How did you like the help and will your request for help be continued? That produces very warm conversations. These conversations are very valuable to me personally, because we all work very hard to help people, and in these conversations it becomes clear that we really do this. Sometimes someone on the other end of the line starts crying spontaneously, because they have been so happy with the help they offered.

A personal message

Or take the telephone conversations that the elderly have with students who spontaneously gave them floral greetings in nursing homes. Together with student associations, we have already made thousands of elderly people so happy in various cities. Not only because of the flower, but also because of the added card. Each student had written down a personal message with their name and telephone. Just to make another call. This also results in very penetrating conversations in this time.

Dare to get up now

On Tuesday, April 21, Prime Minister Mark Rutte rightly outlined in his press conference that for many, this corona crisis is the greatest, most drastic and most threatening period in life. That scares us. This applies to us as students, but certainly to frail older people. Their uncertainty is great, their freedom of movement is severely limited. As vital students, let us provide relief. Therefore get up now.

Rediscover yourself

So sign up spontaneously on gewoonmensen.nl to help too. Or more importantly, give
to vulnerable people that they are also helped with three mouse clicks. Just leave them
enter their postcode and request for help on the site. We still have a long way to go
austerity. Are you also authentic and do you rediscover yourself?

Amber Nagelhout
Co-initiator gewoonmensen.nl
Student Actarial Science & Econometrics, University of Amsterdam

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