What kind of organization are you actually? It is a frequently asked question on the information market during the Leiden introduction week (El Cid) for first-year students. As a student ministry we are standing here with a booth and the manpower who professionally carry out this work: a Protestant, a Catholic and a humanist 'pastor' (m / f).

“Our focus is your personal development”, we say to the freshmen who come to our banners 'Silence and deepening', 'Meal and conversation', 'People and society', 'Living and making choices'. Then they immediately realize that a cursory conversation about a possible membership of an association is not an option. Because here they are at an organization that 'matters' and 'is about something'.
But how? What do I have to imagine?

“RAPENBURG100 is not a student association. We are an organization based on ideology that offers activities and spaces for meeting and deepening. In addition, we like to get started with ideas that you as students bring up yourself and we provide training to boards of study and student associations where (better) cooperation, motivation and stress management are discussed. We assume that the focus on academic education is fine, but are curious about the answer to the question: how does all this affect your education as a person, as a person in this phase of your life? We do not have a ready-made answer, but are happy to bring our life experiences, our expertise and our philosophical backgrounds into conversation with your experiences and growing insights in order to formulate a provisional answer. ”    

Often enough, stories are released about stress, overwork and burnout

That is indeed what we do. Organizing a meeting between and with students. Bringing them together in an atmosphere of openness, security and trust. Bringing them together to make time for what we call 'a good conversation'. A conversation about something, of which you feel 'this matters' or 'I can do something with this in my life.' The greatest compliment we can receive is when students say after a Have-a-break or Food-for-thought meal, for example: “I love coming here because I can be myself here. I feel seen, heard and understood. I don't have to defend myself, but I can put doubts, concerns and questions on the table that are answered constructively. ” Or: "It feels like home." 

That is also so beautiful about our pastoral ministry, that we can build and offer such a climate together. At the same time, it indicates what kind of world students move in on a daily basis, what is expected and expected of them and how they can survive in it. Often enough, we get stories about stress situations, overworked feelings, over-questioning, burnout threat and uncertain future (because sometimes no work after graduation).

Society puts pressure on these young people and they experience this at times as very unpleasant and unbearable. Together with them, we look for ways to deal with this in a good way, so that it can be supported. Central question: what is needed to deal with this healthily and properly? What suits you, your ethical frameworks? Can you take good care of yourself and still not forget the other? What are the realistic expectations of parents, of the college or academy, of yourself in relation to the availability of time and energy.

We often notice that everyone is driving everyone up to standards that sometimes border on the superhuman. By taking time and asking questions about this, we guide students to formulate realistic goals and to stay closer to themselves. We also investigate the basis on which they draw to be a good person in a constantly changing world.

For me, pastoral care has to do with our being as a whole, with everything that makes us a person, with the existential layers of our being, with how everyone shapes his or her philosophy of life. As a student pastor I am allowed to contribute to a healthy and life-rich personal development of students. Unlike before, pastors have to make an effort to be found by students. Fortunately, that works in many cases.

WALTHER BURGERING

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