Category Archives: Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight: Theresa Lieb (Class of 2015)

After obtaining her BSc in International Development[1] at LUC, Theresa Lieb (25, Class of 2015) took a year off from studying to get some practical experience. She went to Brazil where she did an internship for the German Development Bank (KfW) working on financing the transition to renewable energy in Brazil. After that, she stayed in Brazil to intern with the German Development Service (GIZ) in their “Green Economy” project. Earlier this year, she started an MPhil in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford.

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Where did you go to school before LUC?
Originally, I come from Germany, where I did a ‘regular’ Gymnasium.

How did you like being at LUC?
I definitely enjoyed my courses and the small-scale teaching style at LUC. I made some great friends there, for the rest of my life. The experience at LUC was rather intense and you always had lots to do, especially in terms of essay writing. But, in a way, getting used to the work load has been very helpful for my later internships and current study at the University of Oxford.

You graduated LUC with a major in International Development, do you feel like that left you well prepared for your internships and Oxford?
The biggest take away for me was how to do research and write papers, applying different methodologies, as well as thinking critically and structurally. I still use these skills all the time.

In terms of direct contents it´s a bit more complicated because I am studying a slightly different topic now. But I am using environmental economics again. Also, some of my knowledge on institutional design, policy making and natural resource management is still helpful as background theory.

At LUC we deal with global challenges and are taught to dream big. So, which global challenge are you going to solve in the future?
I am now focusing a lot on environmental issues and also learning much about climate change, so I will definitely be working on treating our planet more sustainably. I am, specifically, interested in the future of food systems spanning from climate-smart agriculture to plant-based diets and urban food governance. But you can´t really solve any global challenge without systems thinking, so what is really required is structural change and more cooperation and communication between fields to reach that.

[1] For graduates after 2016, the major in International Development has been combined with the major in Policy Science to form the major Governance, Economics and Development at LUC.

Alumni Spotlight: Hylke de Sauvage Nolting (Class of 2016)

Hylke de Sauvage Nolting (22, Class of 2016) did not waste any time after graduating from Leiden University College The Hague. Almost immediately after receiving his BA  in ‘World Politics’, he got on a plane to his next destination: the prestigious Yenching Academy to study Politics and International Relations at Peking University in Beijing, China.

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Where did you go to school before LUC?

I completed my VWO at Unic in Utrecht. This is one of the most progressive schools in The Netherlands, with a lot of freedom for the students and a focus on the development of skills, not just on gaining knowledge. Before coming to LUC, I took a gap year to work and explore a little bit of the world. I have always travelled quite a bit with my parents, but going out there by myself really was a great experience!

How did you like being at LUC?

In retrospect, I could not have made a better decision than coming to LUC. It has been the place where I have been able to develop all different kinds of skills and where I have gained a lot of knowledge about all these different subjects and academic areas!  The focus on preparation, in-class participation, the courses, the professors, the level of education and my fellow students have made my time at LUC very special. I also liked that because you live on campus for two years you get this great community feeling. I always felt quite proud to be part of this community!

You graduated LUC with a major in World Politics, do you feel like that left you well prepared for Yenching Academy?

Some things are very similar to LUC, and that is also the reason that I like Yenching: it is an international environment in which you can learn from and become friends with people from all over the world; the program is interdisciplinary, providing me with the opportunity to choose a wide variety of courses; having small classes, the program is based on student participation; and both LUC and Yenching are small-scale colleges, where you have the opportunity to get to know most students and professors very well.

At LUC we deal with global challenges and are taught to dream big. So, which  global challenge are you going to solve in the future?

Looking around, there are obviously many global issues that need to be solved. I feel like having studied at LUC and now at Yenching Academy allowed me to delve into these problems even more. With my background and interests I think I would mostly focus on tackling income and wealth inequality, both within The Netherlands and abroad. A man should have dreams right? Internationally, inequality is the main root of poverty. In The Netherlands, inequality is in my opinion the main cause of many societal problems. Overall, I think I would like to contribute to reducing inequality, improving the life of people.

Where in the World: Jessica Brugmans, Class of 2013

Namaste!

At the moment I am living in Pokhara, the second largest city of Nepal, snuggly nestled between beautiful Lake Fewa and the Himalaya. When I’m not completely distracted by the awesome views inviting exploratory hikes all around, I am working at my internship at Bioversity International. Pokhara and Bioversity are not just my place of work, but also the base-camp for fieldwork throughout Nepal that I’m doing for my Master’s thesis.

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After LUC I stayed in The Hague for another amazing year, in which I got my LL.M. in Public International Law in Leiden. Even though the highlight of the program was learning to be a lawyer in the Telders International Law Moot Court Competition, I decided that court-life isn’t for me, or at least not yet. Therefore, I decided to head to Aarhus, Denmark for a MSc in Human Security. It is there that I rekindled a passion for climate change, food security and agriculture that the fast and dangerous world of international law had pushed to the back burner. Studying in Denmark is fantastic, there is preference for the small-scale student focused education that LUC has spoiled us all with, the local vikings are a good crowd and the hills can be scaled on a citybike. Still, after all these years of grassy fields and coasts I decided it was time for a change of scenery, which is how I ended up in Nepal.

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The organization I am working with is, together with a wide array of other stakeholders, implementing a long-term UNEP project on the integration of traditional crop genetic diversity, in order to create a buffer against environmental change. This means that on several places in mountainous Nepal they are implementing measures to enhance biodiversity in agriculture. Such measures include among others community seed banks, participatory plant breeding and diversity fairs where farmers show off the plethora of varieties they grow. I am contributing to a framework that will ensure availability, access and benefit-sharing of the genetic resources farmers possess, and the traditional knowledge associated with it. Staying true to my interdisciplinary roots, this means combining the international treaties, domestic laws and policies, as well as customary practices and agricultural choices. With my internship I get access to not only farmer communities but also government officials, NGO staff and others to gather my own data on benefit-sharing that I will use for my thesis back in Denmark. I am for example currently participating in a workshop on seed systems that includes practitioners and experts from all over the world

12064147_10204908867867834_2013123372_nThere is a lot going on in Nepal at the moment, and its people and agriculture are infinitely diverse, which makes the work extra interesting and definitely keeps me busy for now. After this I get to return to Denmark for one last stretch of student life. What comes after that is still a little unsure, but so far it’s always worked out, and I’m positive that won’t change.

 

Where in the World: Lennart Hoedemakers, Class of 2014

As can be seen from our map, LUC alumni can be found all over the world. Today’s post was written by Lennart Hoedemakers, World Politics Major, Class of 2014.

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Hi all,

My time at LUC, occupied with a major in World Politics and a minor in International Development, left me unsure as to what I wanted to do next. I had gotten increasingly interested in the economic development of countries, and specifically the role of multinational companies in this. I wanted to experience how and why the private sector appears to be so much more efficient in the attainment of their goals as compared to the often bureaucratic approach of many international organizations and institutions. Thus I ended up doing an internship at the Heineken Africa and Middle East department.

After a training period at the HQ in Amsterdam, and several visits to Kenya, I went to the main location of my assignment – Juba, South Sudan. My assignment here consists of several elements: my main task is to conduct a Trade Census, which is a survey of the beverage market in South Sudan. With this data it is possible to create a perfect picture of the number of outlets and the volumes of the market, allowing Heineken to adapt their strategy vis-a-vis the South Sudanese market. Similarly I am looking into the supply-chain and logistics of the South Sudanese market, and also assess what factors influence consumers here. Finally I’m actively involved in the organization of several Heineken events surrounding the Champions league this spring.

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I honestly couldn’t have wished for a better internship; I have been given insight in the operations of Heineken International, in the process hiring, training and managing a team of 12 South Sudanese. Moreover, I have the independence to make localized decisions, while enjoying the supervision, support and resources of Heineken International. All in all, I’m very glad to have been given this opportunity, and don’t think I could have been learning more in any other possible way.

Regards from Juba,

Lennart Hoedemakers
‘Project Leader Trade Census – Heineken in Juba, South Sudan’

Where in the World: Maxime Verbeij, Class of 2013

As can be seen from our map, LUC alumni can be found all over the world. Today’s post was written by Maxime Verbeij, Human Interaction Major, Class of 2013.

Human Interaction Major, Class of 2013 In a way, life in Cape Town is pretty similar to that in The Hague. Again, I find myself living within a 3-minute walk from the train station, I work right behind parliament, there is a sandwich shop around the corner –though their sandwiches in no way compare to anything you get at LUSSO— and a short bus ride takes you down to some (pretty spectacular) sandy beaches.

Cape Town is a place of contrasts, opposites, and contradictions. This city is both gorgeous and disgusting, inviting and threatening. Moreover, this city is made up of a population that is similar and different at the same time. The rainbow nation is a nickname that suits South Africa on the one hand, but on the other, it romanticizes the regularized distinction between ‘blacks’, ‘whites’, and ‘coloureds’. However much these three groups have united as one South African people, these categories still exist and are omnipresent in everyday vocabulary and experience. Moreover, South African rainbow-nationalism has created such a strong sense of ‘us’, that it has led to xenophobia towards Africans from other countries. Indeed, “Africa is not a country” [Veronica D., is that you?] but such exclusion in a country that sings “Nkosi Sikelel’ Africa” -Africa, not South Africa, you see- as the first line of its anthem, is remarkable.

Inclusion and exclusion [hello Daniela!] be it formal or informal, is a theme that guides my daily routine. On a typical day at the Scalabrini Centre, I spend my mornings applying for Zimbabwean Special Permits, teaching different levels of English classes, and see some fantastic clients and some crazy people whilst covering the reception in the afternoon. Strange as it may seem, I enjoy being at reception most, because it has taught me a lot, especially about how to read appeal papers and (expired) asylum documents and about South Africa and the bureaucratic nightmare that is their Department of Home Affairs –a woman from Rwanda who has been in Cape Town since 1997 and is still extending her asylum papers every 4 months, really?

Over the past months, I have learnt much about many different things, but I have learnt more about people. Working in an organization that sees over 600 unique clients every week, you encounter so many different individuals. Some you laugh with, others you –almost, because we need to stay professional– cry with; Some are sweet, some are scary; Some will praise you, some will curse you; Some will want to kiss you, others may want to fight you. How do you deal with a man screaming that he will fight you and hurt you, yelling never to look at him again because an immature intern like you has no right to tell him what to do and does not know about his life? I know now. As cliché as it may sound, I have learnt a lot about, but even more from my clients -if only Congolese French and Shona.

Working in Cape Town, I have taken so much of what was taught at LUC with me, which both adds to and complicates my stay here. Honestly, what would Spivak say about the Women’s Rights Workshop that was organised here just last week? White men (women, really, because the gender-balance in our office is a bit askew) saving brown women from brown men? Then again, reading up on linguistic relativism and postcolonial theory makes the fact that there are 11 official languages in South Africa, but that only two, English and Afrikaans, are valued in the public sphere, so much more interesting. Linguistic hierarchies and linguistic oppression by a white minority, who wouldn’t want to write another capstone about that? Turns out that LUC stays with you, even long after graduation.

Where in the World: Jules van der Sneppen, Class of 2013

As can be seen from our map, LUC alumni can be found all over the world. Today’s post was written by Jules van der Sneppen, World Politics Major, Class of 2013.

World Politics Major, Class of 2013

你好老外们,

You have probably heard this a thousand times before, but that doesn’t make it less true: China is a country of opposites, a country of contrast. And nowhere but in Shanghai do these opposites become so vivid. From the neon skyscrapers of Pudong to the crowded markets in the city’s backstreets, and from brand new Ferraris to chickens running in the street, Shanghai never fails to fascinate me. It is this long-lasting fascination with the city, and China as a whole, that brought me to pursue my graduate studies at Fudan University. With financial support from both the Dutch and Chinese governments, I am currently enrolled in a two-year programme in Chinese Philosophy and Culture. Whether I see myself in a career as a university professor lecturing and writing about Chinese philosophy? Probably not, but I do believe that understanding modern China begins with looking at the country’s past, and at the intellectual forces that have shaped that past: Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism and Communism. The journey China went through before it ascended the global stage and became an economic powerhouse is one of great splendour and drastic upheavals, and has produced many inspiring thinkers that are well worth studying. Sometimes I can’t help but ask myself what use it is to study what Zhu Xi, a famous Song dynasty philosopher, once wrote about the way that bamboo grows… But then again, I am convinced that it is all adding to a bigger picture.

Living here in Shanghai, and studying at this university, has also made me realise what a great time I’ve had at LUC The Hague. During the first weeks of my program here, I expected all students to get along great, go out together and all that. My expectations turned out to be false: everyone went their own way, and no real tight bonds were forged. Unlike at LUC, where within days we managed to forge bonds that will last for our whole lives. Forget about how crappy Global Challenges: System Earth was, or what you learned in Disciplinarity and Beyond (if you hadn’t already). What, in hindsight, was most important about my time in LUC was being able to live, laugh and get crunk (insert Lil’ Jon’s voice) together with such great people.

As to what the future holds? As I can imagine many of us are, with our liberal arts & sciences background, I’m constantly doubting and debating what I should actually do with my life. For now, I’m set on pursuing a PhD in East Asian Studies/International Relations in New York. However, if you ask me the same question again next year, I’ll probably give you a completely different answer. Working at KFC, maybe…

Where in the World: Francijna van Alphen, Class of 2013

As can be seen from our map, LUC alumni can be found all over the world. Today’s post was written by Francijna van Alphen, World Politics Major, Class of 2013.

 

World Politics Major, Class of 2013

Life in Exciting Guangzhou, South China. 

Time flies in China’s mighty manufacturing city: exciting Guangzhou. Already five months ago I started my traineeship at the Economic Department of the Netherlands Consulate-General in Guangzhou.

Driven by China’s economic boom and my interest in the Sino-Dutch economic cooperation, I applied for a traineeship at one of the most beautiful Netherlands Consulates-General in the world, with an office that overlooks Guangzhou’s Tianhe Central Business District and that exhibits the best of Dutch design.

It is fascinating to experience the excellent trade and investment relationship between China and the Netherlands. To seek business opportunities in South China and to contribute to the extensive Dutch economic network, which helps both Chinese and Dutch businesses to cooperate with potential partners.

My traineeship has taught me that China and the Netherlands offer each other a great deal of cooperation: from water management, food security, urban planning, renewable energy to health care. I also found out that the famous Canton TV Tower was designed by two Dutch architects!

A typical day at the Consulate does not really exist. My responsibilities are diverse and include promoting the Dutch Top Sectors, providing matchmaking services, monitoring social media and supporting trade missions. Besides this I was in charge of organizing the H2o13 Conference, which successfully brought together Chinese and Dutch stakeholders from the soil and water sector, including governmental representatives, renowned companies, universities and young professionals.

During my free time I enjoy exploring the world of Chinese cuisine (especially Chengdu and Sichuan dishes!), visiting international art exhibitions in Guangzhou, participating in events of the Benelux Chamber of Commerce and meeting other expats at activities of InterNations. The most important lesson I have learned so far, is that the “Guanxi” network is essential in China’s business environment and business culture.

The interdisciplinary combination of a major World Politics, a minor Mandarin Chinese and a Business and Entrepreneurship track at LUC The Hague has proven to be excellent for my 6-months traineeship at the Consulate-General in Guangzhou. LUC has challenged me to put theory from courses such as international trade, international politics and Mandarin Chinese into practice. Giving presentations, reporting, data collection, organizing, networking, interviewing and budget management are just to name but a few valuable skills that I gained during my studies.

After experiencing what it is like to work in the public sector, I would be thrilled to work in the private sector for 1 or 2 years, before applying for a PhD at Sciences Po or an MBA at Harvard Business School.

I would like to encourage you all to dream big and aim higher to reach your academic and professional goals!

Where in the World: Fabian Kemps Verhage, Class of 2013

As can be seen from our map, LUC alumni can be found all over the world. Today’s post was written by Fabian Kemps Verhage, Sustainability Major, Class of 2013.

 

Sustainability Major, Class of 2013

“Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans.”

I remember reading this quote three months ago, and thinking: “It’s not true. I have lived most of my life as I, or my parents, planned for me.” In the meantime I have changed my mind, which is one of the many lessons I have learned since LUC.

It is not surprising that I disagreed with this quote then, because at the time things were going as planned. Directly after LUC, I joined a summer school to Taipei and Shanghai, which was as I had hoped: intensive, interesting, and with inspiring people. Afterwards I spent one month catching up on sleep and preparing for the project I had planned for this year: live as a wanderer. I gave away most of my stuff and on a certain day left my parents’ house hitchhiking, without money or destination. I stayed at a squat for a week, lived and worked on a Christmas tree nursery for a month, and found a job for board and lodging at a sandwich vending-bike in Utrecht. And while this wanderer’s experiment had no itinerary, it did unravel according to plan: I found places to stay and met great people from all kinds of backgrounds in the Netherlands.

Then life happened. I stayed at my sister’s while she finished her thesis. Thereafter, just as I planned to wander off again, hoping to sail along with a cargo ship to Brazil, my father was hospitalized. Fortunately, he is doing all right at the moment and I am really happy to be here, so that I can assist with his recovery. Recently, I have started making plans again to seek a master study and learn Portuguese in Portugal. But if something intercedes, I’ll welcome the new situation. Because now I know that while life doesn’t let itself be planned, it does allow us to make a good time out of it. And to tie back to our time at LUC, I have noticed that in altering contexts, it is great to possess a golden diploma, as Limo [Class Representative for the Class of 2013] fittingly named our degree.

Where in the World: Caspar Plomp, Class of 2013

As can be seen from our map, LUC alumni can be found all over the world. Today’s post was written by Caspar Plomp, Global Justice Major, Class of 2013.

 

Global Justice Major, Class of 2013

As the cold has definitely found its way to Geneva and the snow has descended from faraway mountains, I find that my first of four semesters at the Graduate Institute in Geneva is, likewise, progressing quickly. It’s hardly conceivable that it’s been five months already since the graduation ceremony in the city hall of The Hague, and that the first exams for the master in international law are around the corner.

In some respects, where I am now is not so different from where I was before. Both the Graduate Institute and LUC take pride in their small, diverse bodies of students studying global challenges in their respective new and fancy buildings – which, in the case of the Graduate Institute, is situated within a few hundred meters of the UN Office in Geneva, the UNHCR headquarters and many other international organisations, national missions and NGOs.

And so, I’ve entered into a new life with daily walks along the Lake on my way to university, the occasional Swiss cheese and chocolate, new friendships, a French course, moot court preparations, and a rather unhealthy amount of book chapters, articles, court decisions and UN resolutions (such quantities of work being, of course, rather familiar to the battered LUC veteran).

Still, I’ve also come to realise that, in many ways, LUC is a special place – but not only in the spatial sense (although repeating a swim in the pond in front of Stamkartstraat or throwing hard little sweets at the UWV premises in the middle of the night is quite difficult here). I’ve taken with me to Geneva many, many good memories of my three years at LUC, shared with great friends. So while I’ll be here in Geneva for quite a bit in the next two years, I’m also looking forward to making more such memories whenever back in The Hague.