News - September 23, 2010

‘People prefer to talk about sex than about their beliefs’

Everyone is basically looking for the truth, says Didi de Mildt. This new student chaplain finds that it is her duty to help students in their search. ‘My church sometimes asks me: is this what we pay you for?’

Didi de Mildt: student chaplain and life coach
Didi de Mildt has been working in Wageningen for a few weeks. Her first impressions are just positive. 'Seventy people were present at my first church service, half of whom are from other countries. I hadn't expected that.'
She is looking about and organizing her work in Wageningen. 'I believe that a human being is more than just flesh and brain; there has to be something like a higher self. But philosophy of life is taboo nowadays. People prefer to talk about sex than about what they really believe in. It isn't surprising that we often get stuck when pursuing our needs.'
Students, in particular, are even more vulnerable, she says. 'All at once, they find themselves having a great deal of freedom and all kinds of choices to make. That's very nice, but if you don't really know what you want, you could come up against a blank wall. I want to help students in their search.'
De Mildt therefore gets in touch with other groups which contemplate about life, such as Studium Generale and artistic groups. She also participates in a national Facebook-like site where young philosophers meet one another. 'And I want to do a song project, because singing teaches you something about yourself.'
Life coach
The last thing she wants is to impose her own beliefs on anyone. She calls herself - besides student chaplain - a life coach. 'You don't have to use religion to reach your higher self. Sometimes, my church asks me: is that what we pay you for?' The only thing which De Mildt cannot accept is not to believe in anything at all. 'I heard someone call out in Arnhem: God only exists in your head. And I replied: Then there is a God after all. There is always something for which you live, isn't there? I think that everyone is basically in search of the truth. Although the truth is not often at hand, we still want to hold on to it. Look at chemistry: secondary schools are still teaching outdated theories.'
Within her own religion - De Mildt is a member of the Protestant Church - she also sees that people sometimes hang on to the literal meaning of a story. 'Whether the world is created in six days is not the gist of the story. A singer which sings my love is like a red red rose doesn't mean that literally either. The important thing is what a person experiences.'
Student psychologist
Besides student chaplains, there are three student psychologists in Wageningen. Occasionally, there are overlaps between these two work areas. 'I would refer a compulsive person to the psychologist', De Mildt says. 'Of course, this person can still continue to come to me at the same time.'