Roel Dijksma, lecturer in Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management, is working on a film about 100 years of WUR education, with interviews with ex-students. The oldest interviewee is 98 years old. The six-minute film shows how WUR education has developed since it started in 1918. ‘I want to tell the overall story line in a way that will mean it is still interesting to read in a few years’ time,’ says Dijksma, who was Teacher of the Year in 2016. He is making the film for the WUR centenary this year.
© Guy Ackermans
Dijksma started by delving into the history books and selecting periods in which something remarkable happened, such as World War II or the arrival of the first women students at the Agricultural College. ‘Then I thought about what kind of person it would be appropriate to interview for the different period.’ Dijksma then approached 16 suitable candidates through the University Fund Wageningen’s alumni network. The oldest alumnus he spoke to is 98. ‘Just the very fact that he studied in Wageningen so long ago makes it interesting to listen to,’ says Dijksma.
Two students, Tessa van Hateren and Maaike Gaaff, do the interviewing. ‘The contrast between then and now comes out strongly and the nicest stories come to light.’ About the introduction of computers, for example. At the end of the 1980s, a large central computer stood in the Leeuwenborch, with a small number of terminals you could work on. If you came in too late, you ran the risk that all the terminals were taken. So students were starting work earlier and earlier. ‘We can no longer imagine a situation in which at 6.30 in the morning, you can’t log on to a computer anywhere,’ says Dijksma.
Dijksma’s film is due to be screened for the first time on 24 April, at the start of Education Month. Anyone interested in seeing more after viewing the six-minute film can find the full interviews online. ‘They go on no more than 10 minutes each but if you want to see them all it will take at least two hours.’