Organisation - March 10, 2011

'Wageningen branded'

How nice it would be to look back and be able to pinpoint that moment which shaped your life. For Dorien Brunt, who graduated in September 1986, that moment was when she was twelve.

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'My father sailed the big seas. He was captain of one of the last passenger ships of the KNSM', she relates in her office in Wageningen. 'On the very last journey of his ship one summer holiday, I was allowed to go along. To South and Central America and then back. Past all those countries. But we only remained for a few hours in each place, while I was bursting with curiosity as to what actually took place in those countries.'
In 1979, Dorien Brunt began studying at the Agricultural College. NM 31: agricultural sociology of the non-western lands. So-called 'niet-westers' among students. Good for a laugh. Brunt: 'Once when I hitched a ride, the driver asked me what I studied. 'Not-western', I replied. 'What then?' he asked. That is still one of my standard jokes.'
'Not-western' meant doing 'something' in development cooperation. 'Doing something good. Something for the people.' She played volleyball for Invicta, engaged in theatre in Project 80 and was an active member of 'De Gele Knalpot', a club which organized social evenings for the mentally handicapped. Then, there was the 'newspaper clique', a small group of eight like-minded people who got together for an evening once in three weeks to discuss current affairs. She was an enthusiastic and concerned student. Typically Wageningen.

Brunt obtained her degree in September 1986. The first batch with a university degree. Not that it made any difference to her. 'College or university? It's Wageningen branded.' Afterwards, Brunt went straight into PhD research for an irrigation project in Mexico. She followed her husband, the current Wageningen alderman Lex Hoefsloot, to Nicaragua, where she completed her thesis. And brought two children into the world. After working in Nicaragua for the ministry in The Hague and then in Honduras, she came back to Wageningen at the start of this century, after twelve years abroad.

In Alterra, she came into contact with Wing, her present work group. In other words: her own company. She is a partner in this company which branched out of Alterra and broke off four years ago. Wing supervises processes connected to spatial planning and landscape. And here is where, Brunt says, that 12-year-old girl's preoccupation can still be found. 'We are a value-oriented organization. We hold the conviction that what we do is community-related.' The nice thing is that she still gets to see people from that small newspaper clique. In the course of time, everyone has even returned to live in Wageningen again. That, too, is typically Wageningen.

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