Sports centre employee Lara Hofstra, raised abroad, still vividly remembers the time she came to the Netherlands as an eighteen year old. The Christmas season arrived while her parents were still in Saudi Arabia. "I didn't have anyone here."
It makes her want to make sure that nobody here feels alone during the Christmas holidays, she says: “Not only internationals, but also Dutch people. Not everyone has family around to go to, or has a good relationship with his or her family. So, where do you go then during the week that everything is closed here on campus?” She started years ago with activities for the summer period; she decided to teach some group lessons herself in her spare time. The SSC's summer schedule now has more than 40 classes per week.
At the end of 2018, Hofstra therefore approached SSC director Wim Koch with the simple statement: "I want the key to the sports centre." With his approval, she opened the doors of the building on December 26, taught a number of group lessons together with a colleague, and visitors could use the sauna all day. With the help of volunteers from Cosmos, ‘a cozy barbecue’ for more than 30 people was organized in the evening.
That one day will now get an extra large follow-up, with the five-day Winter Special XL 2019. This after Xaveria Vossen of Hubble Community Café heard what Hofstra set up in 2018. "She said: ‘Let's work together to make it a big event this time’.” According to Hofstra, Vossen has been looking for more ways to collaborate with all organizations and associations within the TU/e to organize activities focused on community building. TU/e's community manager Erik de Jong also joined, as did eight Fontys trainees (who co-organize and coordinate the week), culture umbrella organization Scala, Footloose student dance association and international student association Cosmos.
The week will kick off on Thursday December 26 at the Student Sports Centre with various group lessons and the possibility to play badminton, soccer or basketball. The sauna will be open and in the canteen, Mo’s Kitchen will serve an extensive Syrian dinner buffet during the evenings. Not a Christmas dinner, Hofstra emphasizes, but just a cozy winter dinner, with guitar music, games and a fire pit outside. We do not want people who don’t celebrate Christmas to not feel welcome."
Friday December 27 is all about festivities, organized by Footloose volunteers, with a salsa dance evening at Hubble (or if there will be a large turnout, in Luna’s Corona hall). On Saturday the sports centre is once again the heart of some end-of-the-year activities, including a range of games in three sports halls and a potluck dinner (for which each participant brings something delicious) during the evening. Afterwards there will be a scavenger hunt (with prizes) through and around the building, followed by a movie night at eleven o’clock and the possibility to stay over in the dojo.
On Sunday December 29 everyone can wake up relaxed, with a cup of coffee "and then join me for yoga," Hofstra says with a smile. After a shower, a ‘luxury brunch" will be ready in the canteen. The initiator hopes to welcome about fifty guests, "but with twenty I would also be very happy."
The rest of the Sunday will be continued in Luna, with an interactive pub quiz at Hubble Community Café, set up by Cosmos and Scala. Monday December 30 is all about sporting activities, with group lessons and other sports options at the sports centre. In the evening there will be a second potluck dinner in Hubble and a final movie night organized by Cosmos.
Hofstra hopes the event will benefit from “some word of mouth" on and around the campus during the coming weeks and that at least 30 people will participate every evening. "The year after we will bet on one hundred," Hofstra says laughing. "It would be cool if people start to doubt whether they even should go home around the holidays, or would rather stay here because there are so many fun activities."
Bonus: campus building Luna will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from December 27 till 30 for students to study on the floor above Spar University.
The promotion for Winter Special XL will start later this month. Keep an eye on the social channels of the SSC, Hubble and the other organizing parties for more information and registration.