‘I am looking forward to the move but will miss the ITC-garden’

| Stan Waning

We work alongside them almost every day, but how well do we really know our colleagues? U-Today is curious about the personal stories behind the support and management staff and puts them in this series ‘On the spot’. In this episode: Marie-Chantal Metz-Bekkers (58), Student Affairs Officer at the ITC faculty.

How long have you been working at the UT?
‘I have been working for ITC since 2001, which joined the UT as a faculty in 2010. Even then I worked as a Student Affairs Officer. This position is versatile and you have to be a jack of all trades. You accompany the students from arrival to departure. At the time, the position was much more administrative in nature and mainly focused on visas. We had a lot more students back then and if a student from Zimbabwe had to go to Thailand for fieldwork with a Dutch residence permit, that resulted in a lot of work.’

Your work is different nowadays?
‘The position has evolved quite a bit. In recent years, I have focused on the introduction, among other things, to make sure the international students get to know this place. So that they could get started well-prepared and knew who to contact if something was going on. Now I mostly focus on student delays. Such a delay often has a personal cause, but sometimes also a financial one. Ultimately, a student has to make do themselves, but I try to help them as best I can. For an international student from outside the EU, the pressure can be high. For example, due to family or finances. I am also part of the national Mobstacles working group, with which we try to tackle mobility related problems from Nuffic.’

As an ITC employee, do you have a favourite spot on campus?
‘I am looking forward to our move to the Langezijds. I think it will be a wonderful place to work, though I will miss our ITC-building as well. Especially the garden behind the building, which feels like a small oasis. That is also where we always organize the international food festival.’

Where do you live?
‘Since about twenty years, in Weerselo. Before that, I lived in Utrecht, Nijmegen, Ankara, Moscow, Emilia Romagna (Italy), Oldenzaal and Lichtenvoorde. I met my husband in Ankara and our son was born in Italy. Funnily enough, we both come from the Achterhoek. Our parents already knew each other, but we got to know each other in Turkey. I was working there for the Agricultural Council of the Dutch embassy, he was there for an agricultural fair. After our time in Italy, we returned to The Netherlands.’

What did you eat last night?
‘Cod fillet with shrimps, fresh lettuce from the garden and grilled vegetables. I like to cook healthy and love to eat out. I really like Lebanese food, as well as food from the Middle East. Perhaps that is due to my time in Turkey. The Syrian and Israelian cuisines also appeal to me.’

What are your hobbies?
‘In addition to my job, I was active as a councillor and committee member for Lokaal Dinkelland. Very grateful work. I could continue with that after the last election but decided to give preference to a younger candidate within the party of the council. That means I had extra spare time, which I have yet to fill. I already partly filled it in with some extra work, because I am trying to get In case of emergency data from students into the OSIRIS system. A difficult job, but something very important, especially for international students, which helps us as a crisis team – of which I am also a part.’

Do you have a bucket list?
‘Two years ago, together with a colleague, I visited Lebanon and that was amazing. Next year, my husband and I are married for 25 years. Then we would like to make a nice trip together with our two children. They are now somewhat older and both study at the University of Amsterdam. The opinions are just quite divided. Returning to Turkey is an option, Israel and Jordan are high on the list, but Argentina also seems beautiful to us. We have not quite decided.’

Finally, what is your best UT memory?
‘That is a recurring phenomenon, but nevertheless, it is the joy of students when they can finally pick up their diploma after a delay. Together with ITC students, we also made trips to London and Paris. I can still picture us with about 75 students in the metro in Paris and yelling ITC out next station!. That family feeling is a wonderful experience.