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The spirit of Leiden in Brussels: successful fourth alumni event

Another successful edition (the fourth!) of the Leiden Alumni in Brussels event took place on 23 February. With a fully booked registration list, it already promised to be a great success in advance. The event took place at the Baker McKenzie location right in the centre of Brussels. As the area was on the 22nd floor, it provided great views over the city. With a broad area of expertise from various speakers and participation from the audience, an interesting panel discussion was held on the theme 'Europe, the new geopolitical reality'.

Alumni, you are our ambassadors

Our President of the Executive Board Annetje Ottow opened the evening by welcoming everyone and stating the importance of Europe. She mentioned the importance of thinking about how Leiden University can contribute to the EU. At the end of her opening speech, she also addressed the alumni present gratefully: 'you are our ambassadors!'

Europe, the new geopolitical reality

Next Dr. Vera Scepanovic opened the panel discussion, in which she introduced herself and the other speakers. With speakers from four different faculties (Humanities, Political Science, Leiden University College and Leiden Law School), there was university-wide representation. During the panel discussion, the audience engaged by asking critical questions. Some examples are 'Could Europe sustain another two years of war in Ukraine?', to which Dr. Maxine David responded 'Can we afford not to sustain?'. Dr. Niels van Willigen agreed: 'We do not have a choice.' Another question related to the war was: 'Is there room for any debate of openness? We do not trust each other. How do we get out of the digging in?' Dr. Joris Larik immediately replied: 'Russia does not deserve any trust. There is a pattern of killings, deception and misinformation.' To which Dr. Maxine David added: 'I do not see an alternative to us digging in to defend Ukraine.' Altogether, the speakers reflected on various questions from the audience after which they asked critical questions in return. This made for a very interesting debate.

Seeing many familiar fellow students

After the panel discussion it was time for the speakers and alumni to reconnect and also make new connections, while enjoying drinks and Lebanese food. For several attendees, it was the first time at the event, but some of them have attended several times before. Anouk van Oss (International Relations alumna): 'It is my first time at the Alumni Event, such a nice initiative!' She mentioned the interesting speakers, the cool view and, moreover, she enjoyed seeing many familiar fellow students again. Rogier Chorus (Law alumnus) was also very enthusiastic: 'Very interesting subject for a panel discussion. Besides this, I heard a lot of good stories and I think this event is an amazing initiative!' That the event was a good way to catch up and (re)connect, was confirmed by Ilias Grampas (Crisis & Security management alumnus): 'The event is a good opportunity to catch up and connect with others.'  He also mentioned that he would like to learn more about the alumni network, so that he knows what else he could do to help and support the initiative.

Relive the spirit of Leiden again

When talking to Wenzhu Brian (European & International Business Law alumna) she added: 'I did not know that there were that many alumni in Brussels!' and when asked about her memories of Leiden, she answered: 'There is nothing compared to Leiden.' Eduard Hovsepyan (Public International Law alumnus) attended the event for the third time, having participated as a speaker at the previous edition. He spoke enthusiastically about annual attendance and described what fine memories such an event evokes in him: 'I get reminded of the spirit of Leiden and relive it again. What makes Leiden so special is the combination of professors and courses, but also the people I met during my studies. We still meet and visit each other, it is really unforgettable!'

Grateful for all the enthusiastic attendees and the successful event, we look forward to seeing many
alumni at next year's event!

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