Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
To anyone reading this: please be nice to the members of the INKOM Working Group. They are at the end of their tether. For a whole year, they have been slogging away and lately they have put on the turbo boost. Later, when it is all over and everything has been tidied up, they will go to Egypt for a week.
Vice chairman Brendan Moloney: “Lovely weather, and a beach. That is all we looked for.” Treasurer Sonja Bongard: “We took an all-inclusive package. We will be so wrecked that even a trip to the supermarket would be too much.”
Secretary Marianne Boschloo: “There was some discussion as to whether Egypt would be safe enough. We think it is.”
Discussion, the keyword has been mentioned. They did a lot of that during the past year, in which they were together almost day and night. Chairperson Anne van Tetering: “Heated discussions, but no rows.” They all nod in consent. Brendan explains: “Sometimes views varied greatly, but there was never any personal discord. In discussions I usually go in with a sledgehammer, not always very subtle.”
Sonja: “I am the opposite, I tend to see how others think about it. We both learned from each other, Brendan has toned down a bit, I stand up for myself more.” Brendan gives a surly nod.
Right then, but what were the discussions about? They think about it and then come up with some bureaucratic answers about dividing the budgets over the various portfolios and what to do if there was an unexpected windfall, until Anne shouts: “The artists! That's what we've been discussing for days.”
Sonja: “For years the Inkom programme has featured nineties acts, such as the Venga Boys, but the next batch of first-year students is too young for this music. We try to put ourselves in the position of these prospective students.”
Marianne: “This is the K3 generation. But senior students have to like it as well.”
Fortunately, we managed. The Market square music programme is young and lively.
If only we could say that now (back at the working group headquarters) about the fish that is swimming listlessly in circles in the bowl on the conference table. A pale specimen that once left the shop as a goldfish and is now living out its days in murky water. “It was a gift,” says logistics manager Jeroen de Boer. Originally not just one but nine fish, divided across two bowls. This is the last survivor. Jeroen: “And the water is not dirty at all, but really clear, I cleaned the bowl myself this morning.” Which proves once again that logistics managers interfere with anything and everything, as long as it is not goldfish.
Jeroen de Boer: The name could not be more Dutch. This applies to the others too; except for Brendan Moloney, who has a complicated family history but other than that he is very much Dutch. Why are there no foreign students in the group? After all, this is such an international university? It turns out that this is not something the Working Group can be blamed for: they only put their names down; they were not selected. Brendan: “Foreign students simply didn't apply. This kind of thing is not part of their reality, they come here mainly to study.”
Jeroen: “And certainly after Christmas, this is a full-time job.”
The language could also be a problem, some say, because there is a lot of contact with the outside world, local suppliers et cetera, and you definitely have to speak Dutch for that. “But that really only applies to Jeroen,” says Sonja.
Nevertheless, there are certainly foreign students in the crew and among the mentors. And this year’s programme focuses more on the UM's international character, Anne adds. For example, there is an event in which Dutch and foreign students can tell each other about their experiences. Just so that we know.
Foresight is the essence of government. What is their greatest nightmare? Anne: “The weather!” Well, we could have thought of that ourselves. What else? Jeroen: “The turnout. We have great events but people still have to turn up. Say you've counted on some 1,500 people, but actually 300 - or 3,000- show up.”
Marianne: “Or imagine something important happens. The queen dies or something like that. You have to improvise then.”
Brendan growls something that can be interpreted as a deep-rooted republican disposition, but another example follows quickly. Marianne: “Or say, there was another Twin Tower disaster. Then you wouldn't party as if nothing had happened.”
To end on something a little more cheerful. How are things for the Working Group members' home front? Lots of empathy from mothers and fathers? Anne: “My father was looking up Alain Clark on Google the other day, the main act on the market square. He thought it was quite alright.”
Sonja: “When I said that it was from 23 to 26 August my father shouted: ‘What? Only four days? And you have been working on that for a whole year?’ So, yes.”
Brendan: “You don’t just pick a few scenarios from the shelf. You want to do it differently.” Marianne: “Seen from a distance, it may look like just a party.”
Jeroen: “They think ah, a hall, a stage and some lights. They do not understand that it is a lot more than that.”
Not yet, Jeroen, not yet.