IHEYO: Gea, you have been there since the beginning of IHEYO in 2001. At that time you had been for many years a very active member of the youth and older humanists in the Netherlands. In 2002 you worked for IHEU in London, England and you have been responsible for the first coming together of youngsters in 2002 at the IHEU Congress in the Netherlands. Please tell us a bit about your way of becoming the officer for IHEU in 2002. When did you realized what humanism is about and that you want to work in that direction? Which kind of changes has brought that work for you in your personal and your professional development?
Gea: The first time I got in contact with young humanists was in 1995 as 19year old through a friend. I became very active in the years following; the youth humanists offered me a space to reflect with likeminded and gave me a chance to develop my skills. At a certain time I got very curious about youth humanism international. Were we the only ones out there? I send some emails around and after a period of a year or so, I got a reply from the IHEU about their plans to set up a new youth humanist activities. I was inspired to work more around this and proposed to IHEU to work for them as an intern for a year where I did administration, communication and youth work in London. They quickly agreed and so it was done. I have ever since worked in organisations organised around vision and values, so the IHEU was not an exception to this. What I like about the IHEU and IHEYO is its practical work to change the world in connection with a life stance, that puts it all in a bigger,more encompassing context than for instance a political party. And there are a lot of nice and interesting people within the humanist movement(s).
IHEYO: How do you see the development of IHEYOs work over the years you are involved in it and also the structure of the network some years back on now?
Gea: It is more developed, though in the beginning years it was for me more inspiring and new. I miss this at times right now, I realize it is a good time then to move into other challenges in life and let IHEYO be for a new generation.
IHEYO: You have been the President of IHEYO, the communication officer and treasurer. How do you combine your professional work with all the obstacles and challenges of this volunteer work?
Gea: It is always a challenge? Since you work in an international organisation were you cannot see many of the volunteers often, it requires a lot of independence and discipline. At the same time I am inspired by the fact that working a volunteer really makes a difference in the world and in an international organisation you have a really fascinating time, learning to work with so many from different countries. It brings the world onto your doormat. For instance when I go to India I will visit my humanist friends there, whom have shown me a side of India I cannot see as tourist or by following media here.
IHEYO: When you look back to your active involvement/ period in IHEYO, what was the most memorable moment/situation for you? And when was the worst one, you can remember?
Gea: The most memorable was the first conference ever. I organised this solely and it was the first time so many young humanists were brought together. It was also my first international conference I organised. The worst, hmm; I regret it that in previous years we were not able to attract many new volunteers and we lacked some discussion on vision. And I regret to take up the role of treasurer, which is a necessary task, but something I enjoyed the least.
IHEYO: Becoming a member of the EC: How do you see your role in the future for IHEYO? What is your wish for IHEYOs future?
Gea: IHEYO is a great club to be involved in with a lot of potential. I hope it will sparkle and tickle more young people to be involved. I hope at the same time not to say goodbye to the many friends I made and people I met, but to say ‘see you another time!’.