Meet the team of 2021-2022
We are a non-profit organization and all members of Right2Education are volunteers. Together, we are working towards building a community and bridging the gap between outsiders and insiders.
Lidewij Van der Vaart
“To me, R2E is a special place that brings together many people. Everyone is welcome to learn from each other. Two years ago, as a first year at Amsterdam University College, I got involved in Right2Education as a buddy. Through the events hosted by R2E, I had the opportunity to meet many people and make new friends, as we shared about our cultures, hobbies and interests. I found out we had a lot in common. Last year, I became a part of the board as a buddy-system and events coordinator to help build a warm and inclusive community.
This year, I will be continuing to contribute to our community that is right2education, as the internal communications manager. My main tasks will be keeping an overview of the board as a whole, and arranging all tasks within.
I am very excited to take up this challenge with our board and all the students, teachers, buddies, and everyone else involved with R2E. I can’t wait to meet everyone!”
“I discovered Right2Education in my first year upon moving to Amsterdam, and like most of my fellow board members, began in the organisation as a buddy. From there I was acquainted with one of the most genuinely warm and open communities I had ever encountered, bringing people from vastly different backgrounds together in a positive and reciprocal mindset. I was also impressed by the professionalism of R2E’s teaching process, and was eager to become more involved in the organisation.
This year, my colleague Rahma and I will be student coordinators for R2E, keeping in touch with the guest students throughout the year to ensure that all their questions are answered and their concerns are adressed. Ultimately we hope that each guest students completes the semester feeling fulfilled, whether it be in their progress in Dutch or English or in the friends they made through this amazing community. I think Right2Education is an opportunity for all of us to learn and grow, and I can’t wait to meet next year’s students, teachers and buddies!“
“I grew up in a neighbourhood as one of the very few foreign families. My family and I worked very hard to understand the language and get to know the people. All of that, while staying true to our roots. Residing in a continent where the media portrays you as the ‘bad guy’ , being female which means you are being ‘oppressed’. People want to fill in the blanks for you, but we never let them. I have learnt to always stand up for something that’s not right; someone who’s not acting rightfully towards you.
When you don’t know the language, that’s the first barrier. The people’s customs is the second one. My mom has spent her whole time in this country helping those new to the area, familiarizing them and extending her knowledge she has gained. Even while she was still in the beginning phases of learning Dutch. A true role model.
Different backgrounds, different cultures and different people. The remarkable thing is that at Right2Education everything that is stated as ‘different’ , unites us more. Where there is enough room for separation, Right2Education is the place where the unity is strengthened. Therefore I am glad I moved to Amsterdam. Together with Jeremy we will make sure we can help the lovely guest students wherever possible, always ready when they need us. We have a beautiful board, beautiful buddies and beautiful students, look up, Right2Education is back for another unforgettable year!
Toby Biggs O'May
Academic and teacher coordinator
“I first became involved in R2E as a buddy in the Fall of 2020, and the following semester I joined the teaching team. My experience as a teacher was wonderful–I met so many lovely people and had so many great conversations that I knew from early on that I wanted to continue my participation in the organisation.
This year, along with my amazing partner Fee, I will be responsible for co-ordinating the teaching team and overseeing the curricula and classes. From my own experience, I know the amount of input and dedication teaching requires, and Fee and I have already started working on ensuring that our teachers feels comfortable, confident and prepared for the semester ahead of them.
I am so excited to be working with such a talented and committed board this year and I look forward to seeing how Right2Education continues to grow and flourish as an organisation.”
Academic and teacher coordinator
“I learned about Right2Education a couple of years before I came to AUC, when some of our family friends were among the first group of official R2E students. It was amazing to see how such a relatively simple concept could be so effective. As Academic and Teacher co-coordinator I look forward to making sure our teachers feel supported and comfortable in their roles. I cannot wait to see how all of the teachers will use their different strengths and experiences to create great classroom environments and learning experiences, and gain new skills and confidence in the process. Besides that, I am so happy to be working alongside Toby and the rest of the board this year to continue the great work of the organisation.“
Esme Smithson Swain
“I’d volunteered with a similar organisation to Right2Education in England, so when I heard about it I was immediately keen to get involved. I luckily got a position as an English teacher last year, and loved the experience. It was very sociable, and even during COVID-19 enabled me to talk to lots of new people in Amsterdam. We had a really fun time with our lessons and I even learnt a lot of Dutch from the students (who were much much better than me). I wanted to get more involved this year, and had lots of ideas for Right2Education outreach so I applied to join the board.
Right2Education is already such an inclusive and welcoming community, but I hope that in the next year we can form more partnerships and make our classes even more accessible. There’s been great support for R2E, and many people agree with the values so this next year will hopefully be about increasing R2E’s reach and impact.“.
Buddy system co-coordinator
“As an international relations student focussing on human rights I have come to believe that access to education is one of the most important tools to improving one’s life. R2E’s work in providing language education is what first got me interested in the organization and when I learnt about the buddy system and social events I became even more eager to be a part of the team. I hope that I can help create a positive community and connect people.”
Buddy system co- coordinator
“I have always been interested in migration and refugee integration. Growing up in the south coast of Spain, where one of the main refugee asylum centers of Spain and Europe is located, I noticed that key things such as language barriers and cultural differences create wide gaps between communities which give rise to a sense of not belonging and make the process of integrating so much harder. I believe it is of main importance to not only welcome the people who arrive, but also promote social inclusion and provide them opportunities to integrate within the community.
For this reason, learning about R2E, its mission, how it combines education and social activities and the genuine bonds and friendly relationships everyone at the organization shares, really inspired me and made me realize I wanted to be part of the community.
As a buddy system co-coordinator I am excited to work alongside Birte on increasing the R2E family, building a friendly community, and supporting the buddy pairs.“
“Right2Education first caught my attention when I applied as a buddy on my first year of university at AUC. I immediately loved the idea of being involved in an organization that focuses on the education of students with a refugee background. My time in Right2Education was also a great experience to meet new people from different cultures and backgrounds, and to acknowledge how the language barrier breaks free.
Now, as an event coordinator, Melike and I will organize and host accessible, fun and also cultural events where everyone feels welcome. I’m so happy to be a part of this board and I’m very excited to see what we can bring to the table this year! (hopefully without some of the restrictions Covid-19 imposed)“
“I was born as a child of a woman who dedicated her career to educating the adults in Turkey, a country full of migrants and lack of education. I watched her teaching how to read, write and use the language in its correct form, and realized the gratitude of her students. There were many people who wanted to be educated just to be a role model to their grandchildren. That was the time I found out the significance of education, as well as integrating people to community life.
Throughout my second year in AUC, I wanted to devote my time to something valuable. As an Event Co-coordinator, I wish to support the participants at socializing, learning more about the outside world and each other. The Right2Education has a great possibility of touching the lives of the people, and having a role in this would make me satisfied.”
Florence de Graven
Treasurer and Acquisitions
“Like most of us, I got to know Right 2 Education in my first year of my studies. Multiple of my friends had already been working with R2E as either a buddy or on the board, and multiple saw me as a good fit for the team. I’ve previously given, and still give, tutoring to kids of all ages, yet have never taken part in the R2E buddy program myself.
The great thing about R2E to me is the professionalism of the teaching within R2E, and the expansion of everyone’s horizon who is involved in R2E; both students and teachers. We all learn new things from one another, which can bring forward even better things.
Therefore, when the opportunity was given for me to join the board of R2E, I was more than thrilled to get to know all the ins and outs.
For the year 2021-2022 I will be taking the role as treasurer & head of acquisitions. Although this is a fairly new role to me, I am excited to work together with a group of great people and learn new things. I am looking forward to seeing where the R2E journey can bring me, and what I can bring to the R2E :)”
In memory of Noah van Genuchten, Treasurer and Head of Acquisitions 2019-2020.
The founders of Right2Education
Our Advisory Board
Dr. Sennay Ghebreab
AUC Management Representative
Dr. Anne de Graaf
Chief Diversity Officer at the UvA
Gastvrij Oost Representative
Prof. Dr. Halleh Ghorashi
Dr. Diederik van Werven
AUC Faculty Representative