Rein, you can enthusiastically look back on an interesting and intensive job…
I helped developing DBYN into a mature, independent organization. (...) The many volunteers, partner organizations and dedicated trainers, will always stay with me. I would like to thank the trainees as well. It was always nice to welcome young people and educate them through this organization. (...) In addition, I owe a lot to Fonny, the current head, and Francesco, Lieve, Bob and Guido, the previous presidents of Don Bosco Youth-Net, with whom I have worked closely together and experienced beautiful things.
How do you look back at working in the global Salesian movement?
It was not new to me. I am a former student of a Don Bosco Hechtel and after that I became a teacher in this school. I soon got the Salesian teaching method in my fingers. But at DBYN I had to learn to deal with the diversity of the Salesian community worldwide. The Salesian model is still interesting to shape and educate young people of today. This has been unique for 200 years. That advantage can pay off our network, not only among young people, but also at the European institutions. We have a way to approach others successfully through non-formal education.
Part of the work is not only looking at today, but also looking back in history. How can we get inspiration from that? We can take an example of how Don Bosco acted in his time. I am thinking here about how we train young people today, how we try to make Europe a more socially-aware community and how we teach young people to be social entrepreneurs. Today, Don Bosco is still a role model for social change. This is something we encourage young people to take active part in.
What are your plans now?
I am starting a new job at the Flemish Government in the tourism sector. In Flanders we have a tradition of social tourism that gives people living in poverty, the chance to go on holiday. This human rights-sensitive theme is completely in line with what we also try to do at DBYN, but through education.
What do you wish for DBYN?
I see two generations in Europe. One has seen Europe become one, but that is an aging generation. The second generation thinks that the unification of the EU is self-evident, and they mainly look at the new challenges. I hope that DBYN can find someone who sees this and can offer the right support to young people and our member organizations.