‘I want to show my kids what the world is made of’

| Michaela Nesvarova

We work next to each other almost every day, but how well do we really know our colleagues? U-Today is curious about the personal stories of the UT support and management staff and we bring you these stories in this series ‘On the spot’. In this episode we introduce Jorien Terlouw, the ITC Alumni Coordinator.

Photo by: Arjan Reef

Do you live around here?

‘No, now I live in Ommen, near Zwolle. But I was born in Lonneker, a small village next to Enschede, and I went to school in Enschede, so I’m very local. I grew up here in Twente, but I did leave a few times. I spent time in Israel and England during my studies. And I lived in Ecuador for two and half years.’

Why Ecuador?

‘It was far away. (laughs) Different cultures always attracted me. I wanted to learn Spanish and Spain was too close, so I chose Ecuador. I was 21 years old, all alone only with my suitcase, and I didn’t speak a word of Spanish. I was supposed to stay for six months: three months at school and three months volunteering in an orphanage. But I ended up staying longer. I found an apartment, I taught English at an elementary school, worked in a bar.’

What is it like to live in Ecuador?

‘Amazing. It’s a gorgeous country with an interesting culture. There are the colonial people with origins in Spain and then there are the locals with Incan and Mayan roots. These two groups sometimes clash. It’s also a poor country, so it was tough at times, seeing all the kids on the street. It was a good reality check, I must say. You are more humble when you come back. You don’t take anything for granted. It really was a lucky shot for me to go there. I still consider it my second home.’

Afterwards you moved back to Twente?

‘Yes, I came back in May 2004 and in June 2004 I started working at ITC. At first, I worked as an administrative assistant at the communication department and since 2008 I’ve worked as the alumni coordinator. Last year I celebrated 12,5 years in service.’

Do you still like your job?

‘I love my job. The alumni network here is quite special. It makes me proud. It’s a very loyal network with people all around the world. But wherever they are, if ITC needs them they are always willing to help. I find that special in today’s society. It shows that ITC has had a big impact on their lives.’

Are you married, single, in love?

‘I’m in a relationship. We have been living together for a long time and we have two kids, two boys. We met at ITC actually. He worked as a security officer here.’

What keeps you busy these days?

‘I’m a working mom of two young children, so that keeps me busy. I want to be part of my children’s lives as much as possible, but I also want to excel at work. It’s always about finding a balance.’

Are you reading a book?

‘I always am! Reading is my most favorite thing in the world. I read whenever I have some spare time. I especially like detective stories. Right now I’m reading one by Karen Rose.’

Do you have other hobbies?

‘I used to give ice-skating lessons to kids, that was my passion. I also used to skate myself when I was young. Actually, the Olympic athlete Jorien Ter Mors was in the same club. I also love to go camping with my family. We do very primitive camping in tents, without any electricity, really getting back to nature. Whenever it’s nice weather, I long to go out, go into the woods, walk the dog.’

What type of dog do you have?

‘He is a mixture. He actually comes from Ecuador. I brought him back with me and he is my mate for life. He’s been with me since the day he was born. My friend’s dog in Ecuador had twelve puppies and their mother couldn’t feed them all, so we started taking care of them. Later, my friend found a home for all the puppies except for this one. I just couldn’t leave him.’

What three things would you take with you on a deserted island?

‘My e-reader with over 1000 books. My dog. And of course my family.’

What is on your bucket list?

‘See the world. I want to get my kids acquainted with the diverse cultures and people that exist in the world. Showing your kids the world’s diversity is the best gift you can give. I want to show them what the world is made of, that there is more than just our culture right here.’