Almost three years ago Ralien Bekkers left for Yale University to do a master’s degree in Environmental Management after raising funds (30,000 euros) via a crowdfunding campaign. Folia asks her five questions.
‘Absolutely! Last week I organised a party in Cafe De Jaren for the 350 people who donated. Forty people turned up but it was a lot of fun because some of them didn’t even know me (or I, them). They’d donated because they appreciated my ambition and felt able to help financially. Obviously I had to meet them.’
You collected thirty-thousand euros. Was that enough?
‘No! It was enough to pay for one year’s tuition, eating and drinking but the master’s actually took two years so I ended up with debt after all…. Don’t ask how much!’
But now you have a master’s degree from the prestigious Yale university.
‘Yes, and I’m so grateful, but also suffering from a killer hangover after election night. Total disaster. Trump, I mean, not the hangover. Everything I’ve worked for during my studies is being crossed out with an ink pen just like that. Exxon boss Rex Tillerson is now Secretary of State. Can you even imagine?? The world is turning upside down.’
Did you expect Trump to win?
‘There were some people who did, but I think that, overall, the impression was that Hillary would win. This was probably the reason so many didn’t vote: we thought we knew the outcome. I campaigned for her in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania but it was very difficult to get people interested.’
‘I'll be returning to the US this week where I want to participate in the resistance movement against Trump. Yale students are organising so-called “Trump Take Down Tuesdays” where students call and mail politicians to lobby for better and more democratic policy on all levels. I can’t wait to start and work for a better environment and more sustainability.’