Humans of TU Delft: Eva van der Kooij

Who are the people who study and work at TU Delft? Meet Eva van der Kooij, the chairperson of Restaurant Hartige Samaritaan.

Eva van der Kooij: “For me, this period of studying is not just about studying, but also about personal development.” (Photo: Heather Montague)

“Two years ago, the asylum seekers centre for refugees in Rijswijk had just opened and there was a group of students at TU Delft that wanted to do something for them. They came up with this project and set up the Hartige Samaritaan organisation. They organised the first ‘restaurant’ in 2017 and it was a great success. I volunteered then as a server for a few nights.

This year, I saw they wanted to do it again and I wanted to get involved. For me, this period of studying is not just about studying, but also about personal development. I wanted to do something and when I saw this opportunity it was perfect, something I really feel a connection to.

The next ‘restaurant’ will be from 23 February to 23 March and it will be open six days a week. We are still looking for a location and we are also forming committees to make the project happen. We are looking for a very diverse group of students to help. We need help in the kitchen and with serving. We’re also going to try and prepare an entertainment programme, so maybe some music or comedy, and we need people to help us with this too.

‘The chance that you know a refugee is really small’

We have volunteers from the community working together with people from the asylum seekers centre, but also with people who already have their residency status and live in Delft. I think it’s about placing the refugees on a pedestal, showing people a face. You might hear about refugees, but the chance that you know one is really small. If you come to the restaurant and they make your food and serve it to you, you can see that they are the same as us, they are just people. For example, a week ago, I met a guy from Syria who has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

I think the goal of the organisation is about acceptance and integration. It’s about awareness, making people aware. The goal is to improve the relationship between refugees and Dutch people in Delft, but also to inspire people to pick up some volunteer work themselves.”

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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