During exams and resits, the Bongerd Sports Centre is full of hundreds of students. Among them, Lotte de Vries (20), who just sat an exam for her BSc in International Development Studies.
‘In my first year I found my degree course quite easy. Then I started doing all sorts of other things on the side, and now it’s getting a lot more difficult. I slightly regret taking it all on at the same time,’ says Lotte. She does four to eight hours a week of voluntary work for a foundation called Stichting Present. ‘That is a nationwide organization that tries to link people who could use some help with people who can offer help. In Wageningen, these are often groups of students, who might come and do something like some painting for someone who has no money and no social safety net.’
Lotte does not take part in those kinds of one-off projects herself, but is doing nine months of ‘social service’ with the foundation. ‘The government has a plan to make social service compulsory. It hasn’t happened yet, but you can still do it voluntarily.’ One of the things Lotte helps with at Present is linking projects with volunteers. ‘Before the winter we had a project in which we linked up lonely people with others. My degree programme is about poverty abroad, but we have poor people in the Netherlands too. Stichting Present tries to do something about that.’
Apart from this voluntary work, Lotte also serves on the board of student society SSR-W. ‘SSR has several sister organizations that come under one umbrella. I’m on the board of that organization as secretary. I write minutes and keep in touch with external parties. I’m the face of the organization, in a way.’ Lotte applied for this job for second-year members when she was still in her first year. ‘That makes me the only second-year on the board now. And I’m the only woman.’ She spends a lot of time on this work. ‘Ten to fifteen hours a week, twenty even sometimes. And the national board’s schedule takes no notice of exam week in Wageningen. Luckily I am quite good at studying and there are resits as well.’