'A fresh perspective is very welcome'

Community Engaged Learning
Photo: Ivar Pel

Working together with students gives me energy. The people who work at Emmaus Domstad are generally a little older, and we sometimes get a bit stuck in our ways of thinking. So a fresh perspective from a group of young people is very welcome. Just sitting down to think and brainstorm together is enough to set something in motion.’

So says Luuk van Wingerden, thrift store coordinator at Emmaus Domstad, a foundation that works to combat poverty and support people in difficult situations by giving them a chance to make a useful contribution. Emmaus Domstad aims to boost its importance to the residents of Overvecht, so it’s become a cooperation partner in the Learning Lab Overvecht course.

Working together with students gives me energy

Luuk van Wingerden, thrift store coordinator at Emmaus Domstad

Initiating a process

‘Collaborating in this course gave us a great opportunity to connect with the city district and to involve students in our organisation. We asked the students to research the possibilities for externally funded training programmes for our staff, for instance through grants, or to start up something with social media.’

‘The students started work full of enthusiasm, but they lost their way after a while. This was partly because we didn’t give them a clear idea of what we wanted. Next time, I would propose a more specific project. In the end, the students established contact with a bicycle repair shop to arrange internship opportunities for our staff so that they can progress on to paid jobs. They made agreements about how we can arrange our cooperation, but the rest is now up to us.’

Inspiration already a great gain

During the course, Luuk participated in an Action Learning Set, a brainstorming session in which someone poses a question and then simply listens to suggestions made by others.
‘That generated much more than I’d expected. Our organisation is set to undergo a few changes, and I’m thinking about using this method for discussing one or two issues. Who knows what insights we’ll arrive at that we otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.’

‘The cooperation with students has turned the spotlight on the general possibility of cooperation and extending our network. It has inspired me, and that’s already a great gain.’

Within the Learning Lab Overvecht, students work with teachers and local stakeholders on creating solutions for a problem or opportunity that is experienced by a local organization or by citizens. In 2019, Luuk van Wingerden was involved in the Learning Lab Overvecht on behalf of Emmaus Domstad.