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Aphroditi Zoulfoukaridis: ‘I hope to keep doing this work for a very long time’

Aphroditi Zoulfoukaridis is the manager of LeidenGlobal, a partnership of several faculties at the University and other academic and cultural institutions in Leiden. In her free time, she enjoys visiting cultural events and loves to travel.

Aphroditi Zoulfoukaridis
Aphroditi Zoulfoukaridis

‘In Leiden there’s a tremendous amount of knowledge about cultures to be found in just a few square kilometres. This is unique in Europe. Here at LeidenGlobal, we work with other academic and cultural institutions in the city, like the National Museum of Antiquities and the National Museum of Ethnology.’


‘LeidenGlobal came into being in 2013 because these institutes wanted to collaborate more and to share their knowledge with the outside world more effectively. We try to reach a wide audience, ranging from high school students to officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for example, and everyone in-between,’ says Zoulfoukaridis. She and her colleagues work in partnership with all kinds of institutions, which also want to reach a variety of target groups. This is why the work at LeidenGlobal is never the same. ‘Every project that I take on is different. At the moment, we have an exhibition where researchers from different disciplines use photographs to show what their research entails. And for Leiden2022, we’ve been very busy setting up various activities, including the Leiden City World Walks.’ 

‘At a certain point, a project will be finished, but something new always comes along. And that’s what makes the work so interesting. It’s never the same.’


Zoulfoukaridis has been working in her current position for six years now. ‘I came in 2016 as a replacement manager and was then appointed on a permanent basis. Before that I’d gained experience in all kinds of places, including an international children’s rights organisation. This brought me into contact with a whole range of different cultures and I learned more about Asia and Africa. This is now very useful in my present job.’

In addition to her previous work experience, Zoulfoukaridis also sees her bi-cultural background as an asset in her work. ‘I’m half Greek and half Dutch. I grew up in two different cultures and have always seen that as an enriching experience. I think it also helps me to understand other cultures more quickly. The great thing about this job is that it combines an aspect of my background and an aspect of my previous work. I hope to keep doing this work for a very long time.’ 

Museums, theatre and travel

Her fascination with other cultures is also expressed in her free time. ‘I enjoy visiting museums and other cultural institutions - especially with my family. Although that happens less than I would like,’ she says. ‘I not only studied art history but also theatre studies, and I love going to the theatre. I can always enjoy a performance. I notice different things than a standard theatre-goer. What does the stage set look like and how do the actors interact with it? I find it very interesting to see that.’

‘I also like to travel within Europe by car (and not by plane) because I’m aware of the footprint we leave behind, partly as a result of all the knowledge I acquire here. People always think they have to travel a long way to experience new things, but that’s not true.’

One exception she would like to make is a trip to South America. ‘I once set out to go there with my husband, but circumstances prevented us from actually finishing the journey. We always say that when the children are older, we want to complete that trip.’

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