Emiel Samsom voorzitter mfvr 2020-2021
Emiel Samsom, chairman MFVR

In a way, the Rotterdam Faculty of Medicine’s Society (MFVR) is doing better than ever. The society has more members than it has ever had before in its history. Nevertheless, these are strange times to be running a study society, says MFVR’s President, Emiel Samsom. “We can’t organise the activities we’d normally organise. But these times are also showing us that, with a little creativity, we can come up with fun alternatives. We’re doing exactly that at the moment.”

Cedo Nulli President Bas van Kruining agrees that these are strange times. “Paths which have always been open to us have been closed. We organise a lot of online activities, but we can tell that not everyone is up for them anymore. So we’re facing a bit of a challenge.”

Alternative activities

Bas van Kruining voorzitter Cedo Nulli 2020-2021
Bas van Kruining (chairman Cedo Nulli)

The societies have worked very hard this year to come up with creative alternatives to the activities they would normally have organised. For instance, MFVR’s annual ski trip had to be cancelled, ‘but we managed to come up with something winter-sports-related,’ says Samsom. “For instance, we had a Crazy 88-inspired session with several groups on Zoom, and we sent our members some things from Austria.”

Cedo Nulli’s Parents’ Day, on which members’ parents normally visit the campus to see what it is like to attend the university, will also be different this year. “Thankfully, parts of it can go on as planned, just online,” says Van Kruining. At the end of this month, parents will follow an online lecture, followed by a virtual tour of the campus and a seminar.

Focus on mental health

sponsorloop mfvr corona
MFVR’s charity run

Both societies’ presidents can tell that their members are having a hard time of it. “For that reason, we are focusing a great deal on personal well-being,” says Van Kruining. Earlier in the year, Cedo organised a dealing-with-stress training session, as well as a mindfulness workshop. For its part, MFVR has focused on sports and exercise. “For example, we’re organising online dance lessons. They allow us to remain active and have fun even while cooped up at home.”

In addition to improving student well-being, MFVR has also sought to promote coronavirus research. Two weeks ago, the society organised a charity run for the Erasmus MC Foundation, in order to raise as much money as possible for research on the long-term effects of the coronavirus. “More than seventy people participated,” says Samsom. “They could either run, cycle or walk. I myself walked a half marathon. All in all, we raised 3,300 euros.”

Collaborative efforts

At least the study societies don’t have to come up with fun activities and alternative plans entirely on their own. Although the societies didn’t use to be collaborative, they have begun collaborating more this year, Van Kruining has found. “We began helping each other a lot at the start of the academic year. As a result, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time, and we don’t get in each other’s way, either.” For his part, Samsom has seen the same change. “We talk a lot to other Dutch medical faculty societies. More than we used to.”

Van Kruining expects the collaborative spirit to remain after the pandemic. “We’ve created a pathway of sorts. We’ve learned how to get in touch with each other.”

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