I once almost drowned. At this time, when the Netherlands is commemorating the Watersnoodramp of 70 years ago, I often think back to the moment when I felt that the current on South Africa's Wild Coast was too strong to swim against. How I just managed to grab the last razor-sharp rock point, studied the current and waves there, only to return to shore, bloodied, still alone, but endlessly relieved. The battle against the 'water wolf' 1836 people did not win on the freezing night of Feb. 1, 1953.
As HZ, we are deeply connected to Zeeland and thus to the history of the largest Dutch natural disaster of the last century. We also have a mission for the future. If the water rises (again), inhabitants of Zeeland will be the first to get its feet wet. It is not without reason that water is our first profile theme and that we do so much teaching and research in this area. And it is not without reason that we are one of the partners of Delta Platform, which links the water lecturers of eleven universities of applied sciences.
In thinking about the consequences of the disaster and the lessons for the future, you can see the importance of interdisciplinarity. Luuc Smit, from his expertise, spoke on the radio about the trauma of people who saw how he water swept away family members, drowned livestock and swept away their birthplace. Based on the idea of storytelling, Liliane Geerling and colleagues are organizing a meeting about the disaster with writers Lotte Jensen and Corine Nijenhuis and musician Broeder Dieleman.
The meeting in the Oostkerk in Middelburg on Feb. 8 is also about the future: students and researchers sketch scenarios for the future of the delta. The role of the HZ in that Zeeland (and Dutch) discussion is essential. For example, the PZC reported that in the future the water board will increasingly see the sea as an ally rather than an enemy.
Building with nature instead of against nature. Tjeerd Bouma gave the example of salt marshes and mud flats in the wonderful series 'Het water komt'. I am sure that the tireless work of our professors, teachers and students in this field has contributed to this turnaround, which is so important for the future of Zeeland.
This involves technical knowledge, but with an eye for the social and cultural side of our connection with water. The students in our River Delta Development master's program begin the year with an excursion on the Scheldt. They then write a story about this.
Only in this way, interdisciplinary and united, can we ensure that the sadness of the disaster remains in the past. When the water comes, you want to be prepared, I know from experience. It is great to see what role we as HZ, especially at this time, play in this.