Last Man Standing: Wittenborg's Karel van der Zande One of Few Staff Members Not Working from Home
Student housing coordinator, Karel van der Zande, is that rare phenomenon – a staff member of Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences who is not working from home, but instead still goes to the office just about every day. The nature of Van der Zande's work is such that it cannot really be done from home – doing maintenance jobs at Wittenborg facilities, occasionally assisting students who are staying in the university's student accommodation, picking up mail, visiting the warehouse and various other tasks.
"The first thing I do when I get to the office is to read my mail. Sometimes, if I am by myself at Spoortstraat – one of Wittenborg's two campus buildings in Apeldoorn – it feels like I'm in a desert! Not a soul in sight." At the other building, Aventus, there are a handful of other people – usually no more than 4 or 5 at a time. More than a month ago, Wittenborg moved all its classroom teaching online – something both students and staff took a while to get used to.
Due to Travel Restrictions, the Last International Student from Overseas Arrived a Month Ago
Usually one of Van der Zande's jobs is to welcome and meet new international students as they arrive and see to it that they are settled into the accommodation. But due to travel restrictions around the world, the last student he welcomed from overseas was a month ago, on 22 March, coming from Nigeria.
He still gets called out once or twice a week to assist students with any maintenance problems in their Wittenborg accommodation, keeping the 1.5m distance required by the Dutch government. The university has 9 apartments spread around Apeldoorn and a former office building renovated into student accommodation, Ruyterstraat, in the centre of the city.
So he must have a good overview of how students – those who did not return home before the travel restrictions – are coping in general with the "intelligent lockdown" as the Dutch government calls it. "I have to say, they are doing very well. No anxiety or frustration with having to stay inside so much."
What helps him stay positive? "My own spirit. If you worry and think about all the bad things that could happen, that does not help you one bit. I am also in general an optimistic person who sees the glass half full."
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press