Richard Carlebur (33) is steadily hoovering up a bowl of pea soup in the corridor while chatting with Simone Pouw, communications officer at alumni relations. “Simone had a welcoming look, that’s how we got talking.” Although the Philosophy alumnus came to the party alone, he expected to meet acquaintances and acquire new ones. “They might become friends for life.”
As a municipal councillor in Barendrecht, he regularly has to attend networking meetings and drinks gatherings. “I’m an introvert and a fairly timid person by nature. Usually, you know at a first glance whether there’s a click. If not, you move onto someone else.” While working as a council member, his studies still come in handy. “I have to read a lot, play around with words.” Does he ever throw a Hegel quote into the council room? “I did in the beginning, but I only got glazed looks in response.”
Two guys who just signed in walk by. One says: “Name tags too, what else could you want?” Inside the room, Sue Martin, director of alumni relations, has started her welcome speech. She is talking about the power of community. “It’s what drives me.” She encourages the people present to talk to her staff to find out what the alumni office can do for them (or vice versa). “You can dance too, if you want to.” She invites people to give a demonstration of ‘Dutch dancing’, but nobody takes up the challenge.
A lot of food
Other than that, there is mainly food – a lot of food. Deep-fried dough balls, apple fritters, tiny round pancakes, mashed potatoes and kale, stew, croquettes and hot dogs, not to mention the famous pea soup. This Dutch seasonal food is handed out from Christmas market stalls. Mulled wine, hot chocolate and the open bar are all included in the fifteen-euro ticket.
In a corner next to the pancake stand, Ard van Kooten (who studied law and MBA, 33) has just polished off his pancakes. “I felt like something sweet, and I thought it was a bit antisocial to stand inside the room eating them.”
The last time Ard was interviewed by Erasmus Magazine was in 2012. “I was chairman of the Smitse at the time and it was about the kidnapping of the Beertje Spoorloos teddy bear.” He hopes to meet other people he knows. “I’ve always enjoyed networking. You never know what might come of talking to someone. It’s certainly helped me to broaden my horizons. If you just hang around in your own field of work, there’s a good chance that you’ll get stuck there.”
His expectations for tonight? “I think the place will go wild. But no, I’m not going to dance, I don’t think I’ll stay that late. Dutch dancing is a bit stiff, you know, you don’t move around much…” He goes back into the room: “I’ll just do a round.”
At the bar, fellow students Callie Weber (MBA, 27) and Ayaz Ahmad (MBA, 30) have just opened some soft drinks. There were twenty tickets left for tonight, and they were given away to students. Ayaz has a clear goal in mind: “Interaction, acquiring knowledge, developing my network.” He also hopes that alumni will have some tips to help him through the difficult MBA programme. Callie is hoping to see a ‘different side’ of alumni at the drinks party. “A nicer side.” They have spoken to about five people so far, and Ahmed has already learned things about financial technology.
Callie is planning to stay in the Netherlands, so she hopes to find out about possible jobs. Ayaz has yet to decide. “Although I do love the beautiful landscape and the climate. That wonderful cold, and especially the strong wind. It really reminds me of India. High in the Himalayas it also blows that hard, it pumps me up.” The DJ starts playing Every 1’s a Winner by Hot Chocolate. “This could be my own playlist!” All the same, he certainly has no plans to dance. “I think people would kill themselves if I started dancing. I’m good at classical Indian dance, but these clothes are too tight for that.” Callie hesitantly passes on the stew with vegan sausage. “But all that vegetarian food is fabulous!”
Stolen glances across the shuffleboard
Nancy Tulner (54) is already sneaking out. The employee at alumni relations thinks that things could be a lot busier next year. There were around 180 people tonight, half of whom are from the RSM. She points to the largely empty corridor. “Another 200 people could easily fit in here, too.”
At the Dutch games department, two couples (two psychology teachers, plus guests) are playing a game of Jenga. They think that lots of alumni come to flirt or look for a partner. Wouter Loerts, who graduated from ESE in 2021: “I saw plenty of curious women looking at me.” Julia Baur (Psychology alumna): “This is probably also a good event for that kind of thing.” Her colleague Judith Sabelis (also a Psychology alumna) adds: “Hey, the shuffleboard is free.”
Binnen is de dansvloer nog steeds leeg. De dj hoopt desalniettemin dat er nog wel gedanst gaat worden. “Ik ben denk ik iets te vroeg begonnen met échte dansmuziek, mensen hebben eerst nog een paar drankjes nodig.” Als hij wanhopig is, heeft hij altijd nog de Macarena achter de hand. “Als ze daar niet op dansen, dan weet ik het niet meer.”