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Marnix van der Gun: ‘I gave it my all’

Marnix van der Gun (42) has lived in The Hague all his life. He started his career as a professional football player and, after an injury, opted for a social career. Now he has been working at the university for almost eight years.

A true ‘Hagenaar’

‘I’ve been married to my wife Vivian for twelve years and we have two children: Valentiijn (11) and Rosalie (8). My whole life I’ve lived in The Hague, I was born and raised here. You could say that I am a Hagenees, but a Hagenees would call me a Hagenaar. I’m not a true Hagenees who talks in a strong accent like they do in Oh Oh Cherso (a Dutch reality tv-show loosely based on Jersey Shore ed.). I do, of course, come into contact with it a lot, but I always speak standard Dutch. Al ken ik wel gewoon lulle’, he laughs in his best Hague accent.

‘I wanted to become a professional football player and I gave it my all. When I was young I played in the youth division of ADO Den Haag and later, from when I was 23 to 25 years old, I played professional football at HFC Haarlem. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play much due to an injury. I tore my posterior cruciate ligament – just like Memphis Depay – and then you’re out of the game for at least a year. I had to rehabilitate and was faced with the choice between continuing to play football or to start looking for a job. I opted for a social career.’

Behind the scenes of our education

‘I worked at Shell as an event manager and at Erasmus MC as an assistant trainer, but I’ve been with the university for almost eight years. I worked at the education administration offices of Huizinga and Vrieshof and since this summer I work at Wijnhaven’s.’

‘At the education administration offices we do all sorts of things: (un)enrolment, registering grades, checking timetables, processing exemptions and petitions, archiving and much more. Together with my colleagues, I am responsible for International Studies and Urban Studies. At the other education administration offices, everyone has their ‘own’ programmes and together with study coordinators and lecturers, you keep those programmes running. It’s like you’re a part of an organisational tree or chain, but everyone has their own stakeholders.’

‘Usually, you chat with students, lecturers and other colleagues during desk shifts. I like the contact with students and you get to know them well. At International Studies, first-year students often need a little time to get used to everything. That’s only logical; they’re often living on their own for the first time and many students also come from other countries. You can see the students becoming more independent in the following years.’

Take time for yourself and others

‘Organising things fits my personality and I like to be busy, but you have to be careful. I had to take some time off because everything was becoming too much. I thought: "Why me?", but it can happen to anyone. Now I’m doing better and I’m a lot calmer: no stress, no fights, and no social media. It’s okay if something doesn’t go according to plan, that can happen. Look after each other and try to keep each other ‘alive’. I always take my time for everyone and I try to get the other side of the story: why is someone angry, disappointed or happy? Sometimes it’s difficult to understand people via e-mail and that causes miscommunication; a phone call often solves everything.’

A five-day-long game

‘In my spare time, I do a lot of sports, mainly at my club Royal HC & VV. For a short while, I played football at Quick Boys – the amateur club where Dirk Kuijt started his career – and tore my PCL once more. But in 2004, I did become the Dutch National Champion in the amateur leagues. Nowadays I only play football for fun, but I also play cricket. I made it to the Dutch selection of the national cricket team, but yet again, due to an injury, a dislocated shoulder, I couldn’t achieve what I had dreamed of.’

‘Did you know that after football, cricket is the biggest sport in the world? It’s very popular in India, Pakistan and other Commonwealth countries. It’s amazing: cricket is an individual sport in a team sport. People sometimes compare it to baseball, but it’s tactically more fun. In baseball, it’s your turn and then goes the next player, but in cricket, you can hit and bowl (throw) all day – how much fun is that? A cricket game can last up to five days, but most of all, it’s always great fun on and around the pitch.’

In the Humans of Humanities series, we will do a portrait of one of our researchers, staff members or students, every other week. Who are they, and what do they do? You can find more portraits and information on this page.

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