Transfers by bike—where else but EYP The Netherlands?

The Netherlands is a small country, but somehow EYP The Netherlands had a regional sub-division for a while. Curious to know why? Keep reading! Next up in the NC Spotlight series, we are putting the spotlight on EYP The Netherlands. Or, as they say over there, putting EYP The Netherlands “in the little sun”! The EYP is made up of 40 different national organisations, all with their own histories, perspectives, and people. Three people of EYP The Netherlands, Saskia, Sander, and Tom tell us a bit about themselves and about what makes them proud of their National Committee.

“So many participants bring their skills to the EYP and leave with so many new skills that they use in their daily life, career or education.”

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get involved in EYP?

Sander Wagemans: I am 22 years and live in Breda, the Netherlands. I study Science and Innovation Management in Utrecht, which tries to bridge the gap between technological development and societal challenges. Besides university I have also worked in a bar for the past few years. I got involved in EYP in high school back in 2016; I wasn’t that interested in participating at first, but my teacher and friends convinced me. It took a few years for EYP to convince me: it wasn’t until I became a volunteer at EYP events that I started liking it. Now, four years later, EYP has become a defining part of my life.

Saskia van Berloo: I’m a 20-year-old student at the university of Maastricht. I started EYP in 2018 through my school, and became very active in EYP The Netherlands in 2019.

Tom Cobbenhagen: I’m 22 years of age and currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the Eindhoven University of Technology in Industrial Design, a study where you learn how to invent and innovate. I’ve been with the EYP since 2014 and started because of my dean in high school who created a little team to participate. I have been hooked ever since I experienced sessions abroad and have experienced as well as learnt a lot in the past few years.

“It took a few years for EYP to convince me: it wasn’t until I became a volunteer at EYP events that I started liking it. Now, four years later, EYP has become a defining part of my life.”

What position do you hold (or did you hold) in EYP The Netherlands?

Sander Wagemans: Until April 2020 I held a position as an Board Member of EYP The Netherlands as the Alumni Coordinator. That meant that I would write weekly newsletters, organise informal gatherings, Head-Organise an international training weekend and a members weekend, help old and new members gain a footing in our organisation and help them stay involved, help coordinate our events on the regional level and, of course, do general board tasks. I have since left that position and I currently have a position in our Democracy Committee, a committee created to oversee our democratic elections.

Saskia van Berloo: A year ago I started my process of Head Organising a regional event in Ede-Wageningen. Since then I have also been active in committees that support the Board of EYP the Netherlands and other events organised by EYP The Netherlands.

Tom Cobbenhagen: After having been involved as a core-organiser at the Rotterdam International Session in 2018 and being EYP The Netherlands’s Secretary for a year, I am currently the President of EYP NL. In this position, I work together with five other awesome board members to keep EYP The Netherlands going. Although the role brings great responsibility, I find it absolutely exciting to be able to support the EYP in reaching more and more young people every year.

What is special about EYP The Netherlands?

Sander Wagemans: Something that I think makes EYP The Netherlands special, is our internal structure as a foundation: it allows for innovation and gives our members a lot of freedom and room for personal development. One infamous example is the time that my friends and I created a subdivision of EYP NL that got way out of hand: EYP in Brabant. A few years ago a national-level event was planned during a holiday called ‘carnaval’ which is celebrated quite extensively in some parts of the Netherlands, like North-Brabant. As a result, me, my friends and perhaps a lot of potential delegates had to choose between EYP or a cultural celebration. We created ‘EYP in Brabant’ with the goal to improve inclusion and increase outreach. We organised informal gatherings, had a website, merchandise and flag to exchange and learn more about the different cultures there are in the country. It became very popular very quickly and luckily, once we reached our goals, we also ended it quickly. But the thoughts behind these actions are still very much alive. If our members want to do something extraordinary, something innovative and meaningful they are very much able to do so.

Saskia van Berloo: I am quite proud that EYP The Netherlands has, over the years, managed to take a lot of the competitiveness out of the conferences. While schools and delegates used to feel the urge to ‘win’ and ‘get through’, the past years participants of regional events are also encouraged to join the organisation. Before, only participants on the national level joined the organisation. This takes some of the competitive edge off. Seeing the talent that has come from these regional alumni only shows how much we missed out on before. I’m also very enthusiastic about the increased regional spread of EYP the Netherlands’ events and participants. The Netherlands may be small but for years most sessions happened in the ‘Randstad’, the name for the area surrounding the four largest Dutch cities, so I’m very happy to leave that ‘safe space’. Personally, I’m also very proud to have organised a biking transfer which is as Dutch and hectic as it sounds.

Tom Cobbenhagen: What is special about EYP The Netherlands is that it is very common to see all your EYP The Netherlands friends again – being such a small country makes it easy for a lot of people to visit sessions or spontaneously meet up. Most of my best friends I met through EYP and I meet them regularly, even though we may live on other sides of the country.

“The Netherlands may be small but for years most sessions happened in the ‘Randstad’, the name for the area surrounding the four largest Dutch cities, so I’m very happy to leave that ‘safe space’.”

What impact do you think EYP initiatives have on the young people in your community?

Sander Wagemans: When I look at myself and the young people in my community, I would say that the biggest impact EYP has is perspective. Although there are plenty of other ways EYP impacts its participants, the perspective it gives you stands out to me the most. Meeting new people, just talking in the same room with someone who has a different background, view on the world and opinion gives a person a lot more perspective on themselves and the world around them. This is something you are not able to do as effectively through reading a book or talking to people over the internet. It’s meeting in a physical space where it is safe for anyone to share their thoughts that provides people with a unique perspective. This is, of course, a gradual and never-ending process. Over the years I have seen the EYPers around me gain a better understanding of those around them. They have been able to share and learn from others and become better people because of it.

Saskia van Berloo: I believe for young people all over the Netherlands the EYP can provide a great opportunity to learn more about Europe. Unlike in Germany, Europe and the EU is not really incorporated in the high school programme. Realising just how much connection and collective history there is can be super interesting. Volunteering can add another layer of learning and developing professional skills, which is one of the main values of EYP.

Tom Cobbenhagen: The impact that EYP has on the young people in The Netherlands is to give them an opportunity to travel to sessions abroad. We try to get all the participants in our national-level events to a conference abroad to experience both different cultures or meet new people in general. Because of that, I think the impact of our organisation is that it helps young people become much more open-minded and learn how to think critically and work together. So many participants bring their skills to the EYP and leave with so many new skills that they use in their daily life, career or education.

“Realising just how much connection and collective history there is can be super interesting. Volunteering can add another layer of learning and developing professional skills, which is one of the main values of EYP.”

Do you want all the latest updates on biking transfers? Or do you just want to see what Dutch EYPers are up to? Follow them on Facebook or on Instagram, at @eyp_the_netherlands!