“It challenged me to perform and to come across as a professional.”

Portretfoto Kiek Prins en Charlotte Meylemans
Kiek Prins (l) and Charlotte Meylemans. Photo by Ivar Pel

“It was the first time in my degree programme that I collaborated with an external partner and that I had to answer to someone other than myself, the Volksbuurtmuseum in this case. That came with pressure I had not experienced before. It was more than an incentive: I had the feeling that I was at risk and that was exciting. But exciting in a good way. It challenged me to perform and to come across as a professional.

Portretfoto Charlotte Meylemans
Charlotte Meylemans. Photo by Ivar Pel

The person speaking is Charlotte Meylemans, a student of Language and Culture Studies. She recently enrolled in the course Community Based Research for the Humanities (CBR), in which students carry out research projects for and together with social organisations. During the course, Charlotte collaborated with the Volksbuurtmuseum, which is located in the former Hervormde Diaconieschool. She did historical research into the role of the school in the neighbourhood.

Kiek Prins, a student at Utrecht University College, enrolled in CBR as well. She collaborated with Common Frames, an organisation that does film and media projects with (young) newcomers, and did research into the effectiveness and impacts of these film projects. Charlotte and Kiek share their experiences on the course and their own projects.

Portretfoto Kiek Prins
Kiek Prins. Photo by Ivar Pel

Applying knowledge in practice

Kiek: “At the university, I sometimes have the feeling I don't know enough or do enough yet, even though I've been studying for a long time. In collaboration with Common Frames, on the other hand, I received a lot of trust: I was asked about HOW I see something, as a human, and I learned how I can apply WHAT I see in practice. The fact that Common Frames was so open to my ideas and that I was so accepted as an outsider was something I thought was very cool. That is also why I dared to say things. I noticed that I'm already ready to work in a team and contribute to that.”

Kiek's critical view and skill to support her vision helped me to make well-considered choices.

Creative Director Common Frames

Charlotte: “For the first time in six years, I did something that was based on practice. I was collaborating with an organisation and my research was not hypothetical, but real. I've written multiple essays, such as about oppression in conflict areas, but no-one has read those essays. The results of the research for the Volksbuurtmuseum are relevant to former students of the school and relatives who are still alive. For this reason, it’s important that the research is correct.”

Strong ties with fellow students

Kiek: “I felt a strong connection with my fellow students, because you reflected together on what you did, and there was room to share with each other what you experienced and what you ran into. I found that collective aspect to be fantastic. I was also sad to see the course end. I usually don't feel that. There was also no approach of ‘who is better’, because everyone was working on their own processes.”

Charlotte: “The teachers were not ‘better’ either, there was equality.” Jocelyn and Berteke (editors' note: Jocelyn Ballantyne and Berteke Waaldijk) had more of a supervisor attitude. It didn't feel as if you could say something wrong. They did have authority, but we were on equal footing despite that. Inspiring to see, especially for me as a future teacher.”

Personal approach

Charlotte: “I never felt like a number. The personal supervision and attention was great. And all teachers and guest lecturers also showed that our personal development was important to them. There was much attention for that and that was good.”

Kiek: “In so many different fields, there was growth during this course. It was a mirror held up to your face. And despite having to jump  into the deep end, it also became clear what's important to you, and that science can also be carried out in other ways.”

Would you like to know more?

Read more about the course Community Based Research for the Humanitiesthe enthusiasm of the teachers and the experiences of external partners working with students.

Collaborating with students gives us new valuable insights into what the younger generation thinks of various topics that are going on in society. Thanks in part to these insights, we can shape our activities in a way that addresses a diverse target group.

Lysette Jansen, Director of the Volksbuurtmuseum