We bicker a lot, as such couples tend to do

We bicker a lot, as such couples tend to do

"I’ll keep banging this drum to draw attention to the causes my colleagues know I care deeply about"

12-09-2023 · Column

Exactly a decade has passed since I first walked through the familiar FASoS arch into the Hof van Tilly courtyard and signed for my glossy new employee card. Hired on a temporary contract before the ink on my PhD diploma was dry, I had no idea how long I’d be welcome here. Nor was I sure how long I myself would want to stay in a town that seemed, to my big-city eyes, rather sleepy and small.

And now it’s been ten autumns. The longer I stay, the more the years blur together and the more I must admit that Maastricht- and the UM- is now home for this South African immigrant. Like an old married couple, the university and I have been through a lot together. We’ve undergone the trials of NVAO re-accreditation panels, the creation and first graduation of the country’s only Global Studies degree, and a spring in 2020 that still feels like a bizarre dream. We bicker a lot, as such couples tend to do. To be honest, sometimes you’ve really pissed me off. But I like to think we’ve grown fond of each other, and that without our familiar routine, we’d both be a little lost. You’ve given me a community and a space to grow - something not every spouse is keen to do.

So, dear UM, happy anniversary. Apparently, the traditional gift at ten years is something made of tin, and so my gift to you this month is a tin drum. I’ll keep banging this drum to draw attention to the causes my colleagues know I care deeply about, in particular the growing need for us to robustly discuss controversial ideas without rancour or polarization. You’ll probably find the racket annoying at times. But I’m also giving you this drum so we can keep making music together. The songs we’ll play haven’t been written yet, so we’d better get started.   

Elsje Fourie, assistant professor of Globalisation & Development Studies