“I’ve been working with the EU in Brussels for 12 years and one of the things that is missing is engineers. The problems we have are very complex, sometimes very technical issues. We have a lot of lawyers and economists, but not a lot of engineers. My message to the students of TU Delft is that I know they are politically engaged, but I really believe more of them should stand for election.
I was 17 years old when I came to the Netherlands. I was born and raised in Suriname and the situation economically, socially and politically was really very bad there at that time. My parents always said that education is key and that’s why they sent me here on my own to study in Delft. I had an uncle who studied mining here and my parents had the idea that being an engineer is a way to earn a good living, that if you’re an engineer, you will always have a job.
When I graduated, I had two different offers, one from GE Plastics and one from the environment ministry in The Hague. I always wanted to do something with sustainable development, and politics also interested me so I chose the traineeship at the environment ministry. That’s how I ended up working on things like policy making, sustainable development and climate change. What I got at TU Delft is the way you look at problems, the way you tackle them. What I do now uses the Delft way of thinking, combined with social issues, everything that has to do with how we organise our surroundings.
In the EU we have a lot of complex challenges such as climate change or working towards a circular economy. It helps to systematically dissect these complex problems into their individual elements. For each part you gather information and formulate solutions. That is, in short, the Delft way of solving problems. It is the only way to tackle the huge challenges we face as a union.
‘You can only be free if you live in a healthy environment’
I’m with D66, a very pro-European party and I’m number two on the list. My political agenda is in large part about sustainable development. Climate policy is at the centre right now, but also the circular economy, everything that has to do with the discussion on the use of plastics. Those two issues are very important for me and they are the ones I would like to work on in the coming five years.
In a general sense, the EU means freedom and it means economic progress. But sustainable development is linked to both of those things. You can only be free if you live in a healthy environment. You can only keep growing economically if you have open borders and you are able to trade across borders, and that’s really what the EU is about.
One of the things I often tell people when I’m campaigning is that I came here 25 years ago and what I got was freedom, a country where I could completely become who I wanted to be. The education system is good, I’m married to a man and there’s no issue with that here in the Netherlands. So, for me, freedom is a very important thing. I’m also happy that the EU has climate policy high on the agenda. These things are very important to me and make me want to fight to keep them.”
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