‘I don’t think I will get the summer blues’

| Rense Kuipers

While one is lying on the beach with a mojito and the other faithfully sets up his tent at a campsite in the French Dordogne, there are also UT colleagues who keep slugging away this summer. This week, five people share what occupies them during the summer holidays. This fifth (and last) episode: Elena Tsigki, project leader of summer school CuriousU.

Photo by: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

Since CuriousU officially starts in less than four weeks, it’s all about the finishing touches these days, says Tsigki. ‘Most of the work was already done the months before, but we still have to take care of the little things. So I’m in touch with all the course leaders to check if they have all their ducks in a row. And this week, my main focus was designing the programme booklet. When you’re busy with crossing t’s and dotting i’s, even the so-called smaller things become very significant.’

Easy into it

To warm up for the fifth edition of the UT summer school, Tsigki and her colleagues will first receive a group of sixteen students from the Honours College of the Northwestern Polytechnical University, a Chinese partner university. ‘They will arrive on the 30th of July and will take courses in entrepreneurship, project management and English here for two weeks, before joining CuriousU on the 12th of August,’ says Tsigki. ‘It’s a way for them to ease into the environment and culture and a way for us to ease into the whole summer school and festival-vibe. Because it can be an overwhelming feeling, knowing you have to cater to the demands of approximately 300 people.’

Adding to that feeling, is that Tsigki is a CuriousU and UT ‘newbie’. ‘I started working here in April. Before, I worked at the University of Groningen. We didn’t have a campus over there, let alone a unique summer school like CuriousU. At this moment, people from 43 different nationalities who registered for a combination of fun, an international environment and inspiring programmes.’

Teamwork

Organising this summer school comes down to teamwork, says the project leader. ‘Our small group feels like a family. And speaking as someone who’s new here, it’s really helpful that I can rely on other people who know this university inside and out. So we’ve made sure we have all the details down. The weather is something we can’t control, but we have several backup plans in case of bad weather. Another example: since the majority of participants will sleep in tents, we’ve checked if the pesky oak processionary caterpillars will still be an issue in August. That’s being dealt with by professionals.’

Pink cloud

In the hallways of the Spiegel building, where Tsigki has an office on the 4th floor, things have become very quiet. ‘Many colleagues have left, but that doesn’t bother me at all. I didn’t go on holiday the last two years. And I’m so busy at the moment that I don’t have time to think about it. It’s a busy, but pleasant time these days. Since this is a new job, I’m still riding a pink cloud. So I don’t think I will get the summer blues the coming weeks.’