As with any job, it seems there is the work that really allows for “the work”. In my case, I have started with a variety of meetings: last week, with the International Service Desk and, today, I started with the Behavioral Sciences Department at Utrecht University.
The work here requires a residence permit and a BSN number (imagine a short term social security number) and I received my appointments from the International Services Desk. Additionally, they set me up with some maps of campus and some appointments with IT and all of that. Oh! I also received 20 euros on a transportation card and a bag of groceries. It was a quick meeting, but an important one.
Today, I had a meeting with the department head and my Fulbright mentor, Dr. Maja Dekovic. She’s well-respected and has been published internationally on the focus of parent and child development as well as the importance of peer relationships (there’s our connection).
We were able to discuss my mission and our shared roles: from her, I need contacts to high schools which she said she could put together quite nicely and I need communication about professional development opportunities or speaking engagements in and around the university. From me, I need to be a good communicator and be willing to take part in the department meetings and functions. Of course, I’m happy to do it.
We wrapped up, but she showed me straight to my shared office with Leonie Vreeke (here, it’s usually 2-3 people in a shared office). I, of course, took Leonie away from her work for the first hour or so, but she was abundantly accommodating, including showing me where to grab a quick sandwich to join the team for lunch. There, of course, the American With The Big Idea was the focus, sharing my project ideas and getting some strong feedback. The word is–this project just might work here.
After lunch, I continued with some writing of various introductions to the faculty and to future school administrators who I will meet.
In this way, I’m doing the work that must be done until I can do THE WORK of connecting students through their shared stories.
Some pictures of my office space at Utrecht University