New adventure awaits…

Hi guys!

It has been a while. I’m keeping myself busy and because of that I don’t make a blogpost very often. But maybe that is about to change; A new adventure awaits!

After I graduated I travelled for a month through Europe and during that trip I also went to the VSS in Austria. I did apply to some jobs, but unfortunately it didn’t work out at those places. I have been in Denmark  in November to attent the international Training for Trainers, where I facilitated an online webinar. And in December I had the chance to be a trainer at the PEACE camp in Brussels, this is the end of stay camp for the trimester program of AFS.

And now the big news:

Iceland november 2019

About a month ago I saw a call coming by that said AFS Iceland was looking for someone for a ESC (European Solidarity Corpse) spot. The ESC program is an initiative  from the European Union which is part of the Erasmus+ program. I decided to apply. Two weeks ago I got an invitation for an interview, last week I  heard I got selected. The process went by very fast and next month I’ll already be in Iceland where I’ll be staying for a whole year. I’ll be working at the office of AFS Iceland where I will do projects within the volunteer- and ICL (intercultural learning) development.

The funny thing is that my parents just came back from a trip to Iceland. So they’re like telling me a lot of things about what they had seen and what I should check out. I’m very excited and curious for what will come this year.

First I’ll just prepare myself this month and start to learn Icelandic!

I’ll try to update the blog so now and then. Eigðu góðan dag!

Bye student life

Lots has happened. As I have been very busy this past year I did not really write updates on my blog. But here I got a new update, as my student life has ended.

This summer I graduated as a healthcare technologist at Avans Hogeschool. Probably an unknown field for many people. In short my studies are about how you can improve the quality of life or the healthcare by adding technology. So which form of technology will work best within a specific situation. It could be very broad with everything that the healthcare touches and then also with technology which starts with simple devices,  up to robotics or e-health and systems.


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After my exchange in the USA I moved pretty fast to Tilburg where my studies was based. The first two years we learned a lot about the different fields within the healthcare and also getting the knowledge of the different sicknesses that exist and what you have to think of working with those people. Then we had some practical lessons about different kinds of technologies. Every semester we had two running projects in groups. The first year it was more like case studies while we went to the fields in the second year. For example, we looked into safe solutions for a closed care home where they didn’t want to hurt the privacy of their clients. Also we did a project with mentally disabled people. The care group used smartwatches to monitor their clients, but it was not validated. And as they wanted trustworthy data, they were wondering what the alternatives were to get the data from their clients. Next to the projects within the field we also had projects with designing for or advising about several case studies.

In the third year of my studies I started of going to Bali with the minor International Sustainable Development. Often I had the feeling the healthcare in the Netherlands is already really good and I really wanted to take the step back for myself to the basics. Back to the why. Why are we working on this, where did we come from? Bali was part of a 3rd country culture. The people are poor and their income is mainly based on the tourists coming to the island. As I lived for four months in Singaraja I really experiences the whole different culture. During my time on Bali I went to the local university to learn about the culture and the basics of ‘bahasa Indonesia’ (Indonesian language). I also set up my own project on Bali. As the minor did not have projects yet in my field. I worked with physically disabled people in Bengkale and Singaraja. Visiting those people really gave me the insight on how ‘spoiled’ we actually are in the Netherlands. But the people are happy with their lives and they are always there for each other. During my project I first braided many Inke baskets, and later on when I visited the disabled people I gave them advise on simple solutions which could help them to live in a more independent way with less complaints of their injuries. I even managed on two people getting new wheelchairs by contacting a local foundation.

Next to getting the insights how good we have it in the Netherlands and how ‘spoiled’ we might be, I also learned how to communicate better with people and how to respect the other values and accepting it is not all the same. The people are happy with the way they are living, we can help them. But their culture is so different that solutions that might be best in the Netherlands won’t work at all on Bali.

The second semester of my 3rd year I did my internship at UMC Utrecht. For the people who don’t know this place: it is a hospital in the Netherlands. At UMCU they were testing an online support program for the partners of people with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Being a caregiver can get rough and with the support program they got tips on how to handle specific situations and they got personal coaching. As the program was build up in a basic student learning platform, it did not really fit the target group (people aged +- 40-60 who might not be so experienced on the computer). During my internship I looked into the program and tried to pick out the difficult parts for the users. Then I gave advise on how they could change the program so there would be less mistakes made by the users. As the program was build in an external program it was hard to change it myself. But I made a mock-up as example and further the hospital was super happy to have everything on paper.

In the beginning of my fourth year I did the minor ergonomic design. During this minor we learned a lot about how to design something for specific target groups. During the minor we did two projects. The first project was about the LEA robot, this robot is similar to a walker. As many people want to take more stuff on the robot, we got asked to design something that would make it possible. We ended up making a kind of tray that allowed to carry more on the robot. With the other project we did reverse engineering. Here we redesigned a Fidget Lap Pad to the next product phase.

During the last stage in my education, year four, semester two. I did my final internship at Health2Work, a company that focusses on an ergonomic working environment. They are offering this exoskeleton that is designed for the industry and were wondering if it could have an added value within hospitals. So that is what I worked on for half a year. I visited lots of hospitals, figured out within which hospitals fields the exoskeleton might have an added value. I got the chance to test the exoskeleton within the ultrasound and I could demonstrate it at the OR (operating room). I also looked up what the obstacles are to implement the exoskeleton and what the best ways are to overcome these obstacles. I really loved my internship here and finished it with a 8,5/10. My last grade that I got as a student.

Now my life as a student is over. I will be looking for a traineeship or a job and hope I can start a next adventure and challenge soon!

Volunteer Summer Summit 2018



Volunteer Summer Summit 2018
Civic Education Against Extremism

Utøya, Norway l 10-15 July 2018

Workshops followed:
–  Grandma also has a say
–  Diversity; a big mess or a useful tool
–  ICL outside AFS borders


This year I was one of the lucky ones to get a funding for the Volunteer Summer Summit 2018. I want to thank EFIL and AFS Netherlands a lot for this opportunity! I learned a lot, met many great people and had an amazing time on Utøya!

The venue was at the island of Utøya in Norway where many people were shot on July 22nd 2011 by a shooter with very extremist thoughts. I think it is an honor that we could talk about this topic at this specific location. The location itself felt really peaceful, which made it unreal that something that bad could happen here. I think it was a good thing to see during the VSS how we can work towards the AFS strategy 2018-2022 to empower people of all ages and all backgrounds with the intercultural knowledge, skills and understanding required to take action and make a positive difference at home and around the world .
To be together with many AFS volunteers from all over Europe and some other countries outside of Europe was amazing. All people are very open minded which made the atmosphere great at the VSS. It was not really that groups were formed. You could just sit down with whoever you wanted to sit with and have great discussions about serious topics and less serious topics. Also you just had to open your arms and there would be someone around you to give you a hug if you needed it. I think just the way people act with each other at the VSS is part of the great VSS experience!

During the VSS I followed three workshops. My first workshop was called: ‘Grandma also has a say’. This workshop was about what view elderly people have and how we can connect that to the AFS spirit. For this it was important to realize when someone belongs to ‘elderly people’. Everyone agreed we cannot just put a number to it. It is just how people feel. And also, there are already gaps in between different generations close to each other. Due to the many mobile devices, social media and other possibilities the young children from now will grow up with a different perspective than the teenagers from now or young adults. It is important to realize this. During this workshop we also talked about how we can get elderly people involved in AFS. Like many people just sit at work and might like to do volunteering work. Or maybe we can do some volunteering outside of AFS at elderly homes to get connected with those people. The most important thing is to start ask people directly for what their needs are and see in what way we can help.

My second workshop was: ‘Diversity; a big mess or a useful tool’. In this workshop we talked about diversity, how do people see this and is it a good thing or can it also be bad? First it was our goal to see what diversity exactly means. Also on what aspects people can be diverse. This can be on many aspects from looks to culture and values and beliefs for example. We got the task to divide our group in two as diverse as possible groups as possible. This was pretty hard and we got a very interesting discussion. Like what is the goal behind this, what do we need the groups for? Which aspects do we think are the most important to divide the group? Like we can split up in gender, nationality and looks. But at the same time our qualities within a group might still be the same. The discussion went on for a very long time before we finally managed to put ourselves in two groups before the coffee break where the discussion continued. I think the most important thing from this workshop to remember is groups can be diverse in many ways. And just wanting to be diverse can influence the quality within a team. So people will really have to see in which ways it is best to be diverse to get to the best results as possible.

My last workshop existed of two workshop time-slots. So it was pretty long! It was about Intercultural Learning (ICL) outside of AFS borders. The first part of the workshop we talked about ICL, different culture models and how to use it. As many people have different views within the group, I sometimes thought it was a little bit confusing after I thought I understood. The second part we were more interactive. First we brainstormed about different target groups we may be able to reach through AFS to teach about ICL. Through a participatory democracy we ended up with four target groups: kindergarten kids, high school students, teachers and companies. For these groups we had to make a plan on how to teach these target groups about ICL by making a workshop. I ended up working on the kindergarten group. We got so excited during our work and we ended up with a great plan were the kids can travel during each session to a specific country on a magic carpet which is activated by the ‘if you’re happy clap your hands’ song. They will see and experience things about the culture and country during the trip, this could be done with the help of an AFS exchange student who is in the hosting country at that time. After the kindergarten kids fly back home they can make a free drawing about what they experienced. Every session they will see another culture and in this way we hope to show the kids at young age that all cultures are different, very interesting and not scary. As we were very excited of what we came up with we made a WhatsApp-group to work this plan out in a better way. There were also some volunteers who work with kindergarten kids who said they might be able to test this idea. So hopefully it will become reality! 😊

The whole week of VSS was amazing for me! I really loved being there in Norway for this event. There were many interesting discussions, outside the workshops we could just hang out and we did a community project where I went with part of the group to the local Red Cross office to paint. Overall it was a great experience!

Thanks everyone so much for everything, and see you next year in Austria? 😊

Below some pictures of the VSS, by clicking on the arrow you can navigate through the pictures.

Volunteer Summer Summit 2018

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