Embassy Hop 2020
the morning we went to the Brazilian embassy and had a fruitful discussion with the ambassador and the secretary of the embassy. One thing that we learned was how closely the embassies in the Hague cooperate with the ICC and the ICJ. Something that interested us especially was the new role Brazil is playing in the world due its status as a rising power and its cooperation with the BRICS. And, of course, we also asked the ambassador about the fires in the Amazon and discussed some statements of Brazil’s current president Bolsonaro.
Afterwards we visited the Indonesian embassy in the afternoon. We were received by three diplomats in the beautiful entrance hall. Some topics that were discussed are the cultivation of palm oil and the current and past bilateral relations with Netherland as a former colony. We also got a detailed explanation of all the beautiful islands and tourist destinations apart from Bali and a new book that you can find and read in the common room in Den Haag called “10 new Balis”.
As the big finally of the Embassy Hop, we went to the United States embassy with a delegation of 40 SPIL members. After we left all our mobile phones, bags and laptops at the security booth, we were escorted across the premises to the actual embassy building. They moved here two years ago from the Korte Voorhout in the city centre, because of security reasons they had to relocate out of the city.
After 40 minutes of getting the whole group through security we were introduced to ambassador Pete Hoekstra. He first gave us a short introduction about himself and his work as an ambassador, after which we got 50 minutes to ask questions. These ranged from topics about the current bilateral relationships between the Netherlands and the United States, to the work of the Ambassador as chair of the intelligence committee in congress.
His story about how he became ambassador to the Netherlands as a Trump appointee was also very interesting. Because of all his efforts, that the actual republican representatives of Michigan (Hoekstra wasn’t in congress anymore at this point) didn’t want to do, he got rewarded with the ambassadorship.
Overall, we had lots of interesting conversations with the ambassadors, with a lot of interesting questions and answers.
SPIL Weekend 2019
Some of us sat around the bonfire drinking beers and grilling marshmallows. While others played board games and twister, filling the house with laughters.
On Saturday we’re off to Maastricht, what a thrill to speed down the hill we had to climb the evening before ! We start the day with a Mole game. Four teams are sent off around the city to play games ! After a bit of free time in the afternoon we all meet again for diner at Pizza Napoli. We explore the night life in Maastricht with a pub crawl and some dancing at the local clubs.
Sunday morning was a tough wake up call as we rise slowly, still recovering from last night’s partying. Mini games are organized on the lawn : potato sack race and musical chairs. The final game, Levende Stratego, takes place in the woods as the USA, China and Russia all try to prove their superior combatting skills ! The way home is long changing trains and buses several times before we reach Leiden and The Hague, we are tired but happy to the core. What a beautiful weekend…
Pete Hoekstra Lecture
Inside, however, hundreds of students were eagerly waiting for the doors of the lecture hall to open, knowing they would have to run to get a seat on this special night, organized by the Committee of Domestic Affairs of the SPIL. Impressively, some of them waited more than an hour, just so they could get a glimpse of the man of the evening: the Ambassador of the United States of America, Pete Hoekstra.
Five hundred students had the honour of hearing the Ambassador talk with SPIL about his personal career, the bilateral relationship between the Netherlands and the United States of America, and the United States’ foreign policy. He managed to tell about his experiences as the Senator of the state of Michigan and his work as Ambassador in an interesting way, and kept us all listening with great attention. Thanks to professor Niels van Willigen, who lead the conversation with the Ambassador, we now have some more insight on the daily tasks of the Ambassador.
A few lucky students had the opportunity to ask him a question. All of them managed to come up with impressively well-prepared, interesting and challenging questions. The Ambassador welcomed all questions and answered them properly, clearly amused with the opportunity of having interaction with the students.
Sadly, the extremely interesting night had to come to end at some point. To reconcile, the Ambassador promised to come back soon, so that he could answer all our remaining questions. After the Ambassador agreed to have a picture taken of him and all the attendees, he left the room. But the memory of this night will stay with us forever!
By Nicola Otten
Already 37 - Celebrating an anniversary with Kajsa Ollogren
The minister of domestic affairs of the Netherland herself, Kajsa Ollogren, took an hour of her time to talk to the students of the Leiden University.
Delivering a very powerful speech, she described the world as it is now in our age of globalization and important political Netflix shows.
After elaborating on the struggles of today as she sees them, the minister urged the students to fight for their values of freedom and prosperity.
She pointed out that even if those values feel very normal in the Netherlands it was now more than ever important to stand up and fight for what the students believe in.
After her speech she took the time to answer some interesting questions from the audience about getting rid of the time change in the Netherlands, the advisory referendum on the new security law, the future of her party, the first female prime minister and many more.
For the more informal part of the evening the SPIL switched locations to De Storm after this engaging lecture to celebrate and end the day with good music, good company and of course the first drink free.
Happy Birthday, SPIL!
By Helena Daeberitz