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How students Alex and Rody got to meet Trudeau and Rutte

As you may have seen it on social media, on Friday 29 October, outgoing Prime Minister Rutte and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada visited the University during a busy day in the Netherlands ahead of the G20 in Italy and the COP26 in Glasgow. Originally, this meeting was only meant for FGGA students, but we, as fellow humanities students had the honour to attend the dialogue in person as well. How did we end up there?

Alex and Rody

First, it is good to know who we are. We are Rody van der Pouw-Kraan (20, Dutch, specialising in Europe) and Alex Velsink (24, Dutch, specialising in Africa). We are both International Studies students, in our third and fourth years. We are also both doing an internship at the municipality of The Hague, in different departments/directorates, Rody is Intern Modern Employer (Diversity and Inclusion) and Alex is interning at the Directorate of International Affairs. As part of our internships, we get to work with influential people and on amazing initiatives such as the HagueTalks. HagueTalks is an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Directorate of International Affairs of the municipality which aims to create a dialogue on different topics in the field of peace and justice in order to encourage innovative thinking and action. Alex rolled into the HagueTalks through his internship and is now part of the Youth Advisory Board which consists solely of students. As HagueTalks organized the student dialogue with Prime Minister Rutte and Prime Minister Trudeau, Alex got to help with some practical things to prepare the dialogue and he got to invite 10 students to attend from his own network.

The event on Friday went smoothly, as one would expect with guests of this stature. All students present had to submit questions for the session based on three themes: gender, climate change and peace and justice. During the session, the moderator took the lead and made sure the right questions were asked at the right time creating a smooth-running, but above all relaxed, conversation with and between the two leaders. We think we speak for most of the students present when we say that we saw the leaders on a different level. A way in which they were both relatively at ease, but still gave their answers full of passion and dedication. It was very interesting to first-hand see how they dealt with certain questions and situations, and it was a privilege to be in the position to directly ask critical questions to these two famous world leaders.

Take the leap

As mentioned, we came to this unique event through networking within our internship organisation. An internship is a very cool way to do something different than studying during your time as a student, but above all, it is a way to discover yourself. During an internship, you not only learn to work within a (large) organisation, but you also learn to network and maintain contacts! We both found our internship by browsing the internet and LinkedIn. Finding internships seems easy, but there can be some bumps on the road. Be prepared for this and take your time to find an internship: thus, start in time. It is good to reassure you as readers; even though the process is not always easy, you get a lot in return. Should you encounter any difficulties, please feel free to contact Career Services. They are there to help you and they do it very well, so take advantage of this!

Doing an internship can therefore potentially put you in very exciting situations. So, there is only one thing to say: Take the leap, because great things never came from comfort zones!

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