UWC Mindset Stays After Graduation

December 12, 2019

In Maastricht we plant the seed, which keeps on growing after our students take the next steps in their lives. For example 2018 graduate Timmin. While studying in Amsterdam, he has started working at a project which offers university students housing in exchange for doing social work in the neighborhood.

My name is Timmin Marc Vooijs, or Timmin, I am an Alumni from UWC Maastricht (class of ’18). After finishing the IB program over the course of 2 years at UWCM, I applied to the University of Amsterdam’s Sociology program. I chose to study sociology in Amsterdam because the metropolitan city of Amsterdam offers a lot of opportunities to examine and analyze society from both a Dutch-national perspective and an international perspective. Since I started studying in Amsterdam, I have also started working at an Amsterdam based project called “VoorUit” (literally translated to ‘forward’). This project employs university students studying in Amsterdam and offers them housing in a neighborhood in exchange for doing social work in that neighborhood. We live where we work. At UWC I was taught the value of being active in your social environment and more importantly the power of coming together as a group and trying to better this environment. This project allows me to apply these ideas of development and understanding.

The neighborhoods that are chosen by this project are the developing neighborhoods of Amsterdam and therefore the ideal place to get involved socially. I work with children, adults, elderly and important partners in the neighborhood (Building corporations, living corporation and other organizations that have similar vision for improving the life of residents). Things we organize include; weekly hands and crafts activities for local children, Dutch conversation lessons for adults, local bread baking, sports, you name it! Every so often we set up neighborhood parties where we try to get as many people as we can together to have a great time and hopefully create a lasting connection between residents. Being able to live the UWC mission after UWC for me was just as important as the UWC experience itself. At VoorUit I am able to continue the mission for peace that was introduced to me when I attended UWC.

As ‘VoorUit students’ we try to offer a new strategy by using our time in university to understand the issues in the neighborhood and combat the stereotypes that surround these impoverished neighborhoods. Together with the residents, by means of setting up activities for them to partake in, we attempt to bridge the gap between people.

Since I have started my bachelor in sociology, I have been learning more and more about lower-class poverty, income inequality and conflict; issues that are present in these neighborhoods of Amsterdam. Having the opportunity to apply this knowledge every day is an incredible addition to my life. The connections I build with the residents are very rewarding and the impact we have on the neighborhood is inspiring me and hopefully others around me to take action and try to help each other help others. Recently, we obtained the 11th place in a competition for voluntary organizations in Amsterdam. This was a great way for us to promote VoorUit and try to raise more awareness for our project. These competitions are a way for us to look for new partners and sponsors, which we always need! I love working here because I feel like I am getting so much more out of my student life. I love working here because it makes me feel the power that the UWC mission has over me every single day. The drive to do better and be better is present every day. UWC taught me so much and now I try to live the mission with the people around me. For a better Amsterdam for now, but hopefully one day for a better world.