Who are our hard-working researchers and trainers and what drives them? You might have seen them in the media, explaining geopolitical topics or putting them on the agenda. We offer you a peek behind the scenes in our new series Faces of Clingendael. We kick off with researcher Wouter Zweers.
What do you do at Clingendael?
I research the enlargement and neighbourhood policy of the European Union. Think of relations between the EU and the Balkans and countries in Eastern Europe, such as Moldova and Georgia. I travel regularly to these regions, I speak at events, talk to media, and write reports on these matters.
What motivates you to do this work?
I believe in the power of good policy and governance, and that this will help societies to flourish. Good policy calls for good advice and sound recommendations. By working for a think tank like Clingendael, I hope to contribute to this.
What was a professional highlight for you?
I did a lot of exciting things at Clingendael. Last November I went to Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. I travelled with an old night train from the Armenian capital Yerevan to the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Very impressive.
Do you make friends when you are on a research trip?
I meet a lot of people during my work and sometimes that results in friendly relations. As such, I have developed an extensive network in these countries. So, whenever I have a day off during a research trip, I can always call somebody to meet up.
What do you do in your spare time?
I really like music. I listen to traditional jazz, metal, electronic music. I play the guitar sometimes. In the weekends you might find me in the garage, working on old cars with friends. I really like working with my hands. That’s why I do various kinds of odd jobs around the house. I also love speed skating, running, skiing, snowboarding. I have a motorcycle. On rainy days I can scroll endlessly though auction websites, hunting for art, old furniture, or cars.
What is your advice for young professionals who aspire a job like yours?
It’s important to build an extensive network, so try to visit all Clingendael's public events on the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Also participate in events from other organisations where researchers, citizens and experts come together to discuss developments in Europe.
Our next guest in this series is Elvine Miala. She gives diplomatic and humanitarian trainings at the Clingendael Academy. What is your question for Elvine?
We don’t know each other personally, but I understand she’s Belgian and worked in Belgium a lot. I wonder if she experiences professional or cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands on the the work floor?