ITC was officially founded on 11 July 1950, but 17 December is actually more important?
Terlouw: 'Exactly, today is the birthday of Professor Schermerhorn, who founded ITC shortly after the Second World War. His ideas and vision are still true today: to allow people from developing countries to gain knowledge here, which they can apply in their home country. Actually, we haven't celebrated our dies natalis since we joined the UT (2009, ed.), but we always take this day as a moment to reflect on the history of ITC.'
Why did you make a timeline with the highlights of seventy years of ITC?
'You have to keep telling the history, that's very important! Many of the ways in which ITC worked in the early years are still in place today. The completely international learning environment, for example, where problems from different regions are juxtaposed. Above all, it is in the way of treating each other: with mutual respect and a very personal approach. Whether you are an alumnus of the first hour, or a first-year student of today, everyone feels part of the ITC family. Even if they have flown out again... When ITC alumni meet, doors open. It has always been like that.'
That family feeling still applies today?
'Yes, I think that's also the recognisability that such a timeline evokes. During such a trip down memory lane, you come across a lot: the machine where you got your coffee every day, the Christmas tree at the entrance... And the reactions that alumni give on social media after the handing out of Christmas presents to our students. The involvement, especially of our alumni, still shines through. Especially now in times of crisis.'
Did you come across any surprises in the archives?
'Not really, but I've been working at ITC for sixteen years and I remember a lot about previous anniversaries. But it's special to be able to wander past milestones again. Take, for example, the visits of prominent dignitaries, or alumni who have become ministers in their home countries. Or the projects and collaborations, from Indonesia to Colombia. Such a timeline reminds us that we have been working with IIRS in India for almost 70 years. Secretly, I like the stories about alumni who have started their own successful businesses the most. The timeline could have been much richer, haha.'
No big party this year because of the corona crisis, will there still be something to celebrate ITC's seventieth anniversary?
'Because of the pandemic it's all a bit difficult to plan and it's a matter of seeing how things develop. But we already have two events on the agenda: a seminar in the autumn of 2021 and an event on sustainability for our students and staff.'