On Thursday, the 400 volunteers who had given up their time to help the migrants during their stay on campus were invited to a free lunch. Two weeks ago, they had helped look after the migrants staying at Erasmus Sport and make their lives as pleasant as possible.

Dozens of students, employees and alumni offered to help when they heard that 200 refugees were being housed at the sports centre. Maarten Ettinger, crisis coordinator from the municipality of Rotterdam thought it was a nice gesture. “But it’s not so surprising. This is the city of ‘Niet lullen, maar poetsen’ (a typical saying in Rotterdam that basically means ‘talk is cheap, just do it’). As a graduate of this university I’m very proud to see how fast everything was handled.

‘The real help was provided by our volunteers’

President of the Executive Board Pauline van der Meer Mohr also took the opportunity to thank everyone, because without these volunteers the university would not have managed. “I can’t praise all the people enough who donated their time for the university. The COA (Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers) was nowhere to be seen and the Red Cross only really had bandages to offer. Ultimately, our volunteers were the ones who provided the real help by handing out aspirins and organising activities.”

Alle vrijwilligers kregen nog een klein bedankje mee naar huis.

Over lunch, some of the students reflected on that period. “After such an intensive few days, it’s strange when we all go our separate ways. So it’s really nice that the university has organised this lunch”, says philosophy student Zouhair Saddiki. The students plan to meet up again soon. Whether they will actually manage to do so in view of their busy diaries is the question, but one thing is certain: they won’t be forgetting their few days in the sports centre.

Do you want to read more about the refugees? Continue reading in our dossier.