Garjan Sterk, Academic Director
Garjan Sterk holds a degree in Dutch literature and an additional master’s degree in ethnic studies. She is a PhD candidate in gender studies and is working on research into the way specific positions and categories impact meaning-giving processes. She has worked for the last 30 years in the fields of gender, ethnicity, and media, specializing in representations, journalism, and popular culture. She has held several positions as a media researcher and as a project manager in various nonprofit organizations.
Her last position was as a lecturer at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science, Department of Media, Information, and Communication. She taught and instructed students, ages 18–24, in various courses. Her main responsibility was research methodology, but she also taught popular culture, gender and ethnic diversity, media and society, and media research. She supervised and coached students during their final thesis research. Garjan is deeply committed to student education in the area of research methodology and likes to explore with students how to tackle a research question.
Rugiero Vitalis, Program Assistant
Rugiero Vitalis handles many of the administrative and organizational details of the program and assists in the various workshops and excursions. Rugiero grew up in a Dutch/Indonesian family in the south of the Netherlands. At the age of eight, he started to study violin, and, until he was 19, his goal was to be a professional violinist. In the end, he choose to study history, in which he has a BA. Rugiero is experienced in the field of higher education. As an orchestra manager, he organized a tour for students of several European conservatories in the Balkans. For the Prince Claus Conservatoire of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences of Groningen, he worked as a project assistant to help facilitate educational projects for students. Rugiero has a passion for traveling. His international focus led him to his own world learning process as an EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteer in Israel and Palestine. At SIT, he assists with the organizational aspects and implementation of the Netherlands program.
Yvette Kopijn, Academic Advisor and Community Volunteer Experience Coordinator
Yvette Kopijn began working with the program in January 2008. She has held different positions within the organization and is currently working with SIT Amsterdam as academic advisor and community volunteer experience coordinator. She also provides the field study sessions within the Research Methods and Ethics seminar.
Yvette holds a degree in gender and ethnic studies. She is a PhD candidate within the School of Social Science Research and is a member of the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the intersection of gendered survival strategies and constructions of female identity among Javanese women coming from the former Dutch colony Suriname. As an oral historian, Yvette worked with several cultural heritage organizations and conducted different oral history projects, including Haar Geschiedenis ("Her history"), an online collection of life stories of migrant women in the Netherlands. She provides oral history training and hosts storytelling workshops, most notably for (postcolonial) migrants and their offspring. Yvette comes from a postcolonial migrant family with diverse sexual identities. She was born in Aruba (Dutch Antilles) and is part of a Moroccan-Dutch-Indies household.
Bastiaan Franse, Homestay Coordinator
Bastiaan Franse’s task is to find host families who will welcome students into their homes for the program’s time in Amsterdam and to manage all issues related to the homestays. The students check in with the homestay coordinator on a regular basis and the homestay coordinator stays in touch with the host families. Besides working for SIT, Bastiaan works as a social worker with trans* youth and their families, facilitates youth groups for trans* youth, and educates high school students and professionals in education and healthcare on gender diversity. Bastiaan was on the founding board of Transgender Netwerk Nederland and has been working in youth care since 2001.
Paul Marlisa, Financial Assistant
Paul Marlisa assists with administrative tasks, primarily finances, travel arrangements, and IT/communications. In addition to his work with SIT Netherlands, Paul works as a nurse in the neurologic ward of the AMC, the largest academic hospital in Amsterdam.
Eduard Verbree, Language Instructor
Eduard Verbree is the director of Mercuurtaal, an independent language institute. He is a gifted teacher and tailors the Nederlandse les (Dutch class) to the themes of the SIT program. He also coordinates additional classes and activities on aspects of Dutch culture.
Sampling of additional lecturers for this program:
Chandra Frank, Feminist Studies and Activism Module Coordinator
Chandra Frank holds an MPhil in African studies from the University of Cape Town and is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths College in London. Her research focuses on the embodiment of resistance within the black feminist movement in the Netherlands. Together with Sarah Klerks, she runs Gerilja Kurating (G/K), an online magazine that explores the meaning and presence of black visual arts today. For Framed Framed, she is currently working toward an exhibition that critically explores the relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands. The module she coordinates for SIT focuses on the history of feminism in the Netherlands, with a particular focus on the black feminist movement, transnational feminism, and the shift to material feminism with its focus on the body. Her module includes a field visit to Mama Cash, the world’s oldest women’s fund that supports about 100 women’s rights groups and organizations that are led by women, girls, and trans people.
Laurens Buijs, LGBT Studies and Activism Module Coordinator
Laurens Buijs is a social scientist working at the University of Amsterdam. In his work, he explores the concepts of identity and sexuality with a focus on Dutch culture. In his study of the perpetrators of antigay violence (2009), he argues that dominant conceptualizations of both gay acceptance and homophobia — as “assets” of ethnic, religious, or cultural traditions — are inaccurate and contribute to nationalistic myths of a progressive Dutch nation confronted with external intolerant threats. Instead, he proposes to see incidents of violence as “rites of passage,” in which masculinity, societal status, and peer recognition are at stake. Other themes in his work are the rise of the new right-wing anti-Islam parties after 9/11, the development of emancipation movements since the 1960s, and the making of “typically Dutch” policy measures, such as gay marriage, legalization of prostitution, and drug policies. For SIT, he coordinates the module on LGBT studies and activism, where he discusses LGBT history in Amsterdam, gay marriage rights, LGBT sexual health, gender diversity, and transgender issues.
Marije Janssen, Sexuality Studies and Activism Module Coordinator
Marije Janssen studied at Utrecht University within the fields of gender studies and (new) media and digital culture. In the past nine years, she has been active within the field of gender and sexuality in the Netherlands. As an activist, she focuses on sex worker rights but is also the initiator of different events around sexuality, ranging from underground multidisciplinary festivals to workshops around positive sexual education for professionals. All of her work is rooted in the belief that sexuality is part of our essence as human beings and that it is important to create spaces where sexuality can be safely and openly discussed and explored. In this light, Marije initiated the Get a Room! film series, a bimonthly film and discussion event focusing on all aspects of sexuality (www.get-a-room.nl). After being successful in both Amsterdam and Utrecht, Get a Room! is currently taking place in Rotterdam and Eindhoven. Within SIT, she is responsible for the Sexualities Studies module, where she focuses on sex positivism, sex work, sex education, and feminist pornography. Part of her module is an excursion to the Red Light District in Amsterdam and a visit to Rutgers/WPF in Utrecht, the oldest organization in the Netherlands working on the enhancement of sexual education.
Nancy Jouwe, Gender, Sexuality, and Postcolonial Communities Module Coordinator
Nancy Jouwe studied women’s studies and cultural history at the University of Utrecht and York and is a feminist and a cultural historian. Over the past 21 years, she has worked as a manager / managing director of the NGO Mama Cash and cultural organization Kosmopolis. As an activist, Nancy has been involved from the mid-80s onwards with the squatters’ movement, the queer movement, the indigenous peoples’ movement, and the women’s movement, especially in the Asia/Oceania region. Nancy currently works as a curator and researcher at the crossroads of art, cultural heritage, and postcolonial history and is affiliated with the Humanistic University in Utrecht. Within SIT, she is responsible for the module on gender, sexuality, and postcolonial communities, where she focuses on the gendered and racialized history of migrants coming from the Netherlands’ former colonies and the instability of postcolonial citizenship. Together with Jennifer Tosh, she takes students on the Amsterdam Black Heritage Tour and provides a theory class on intersectionality.
Paul Mepschen, Gender, Sexuality, and Post-Migration Communities Module Coordinator
Paul Mepschen is a social anthropologist working at the University of Amsterdam. His work focuses on populism and the politics of belonging in postcolonial and post-Fordist Europe. Paul is currently working on a PhD concentrating on the culturalization of citizenship and the construction of “autochthony” in the Netherlands. The study takes an ethnographic approach, focusing on a particular neighborhood in Amsterdam, and looks at the intersections of cultural, class, and urban politics and struggles over power and representation. Another focus of Mepschen’s work has been the role of sexuality in the politics of culturalization and in Dutch racism and Islamophobia. He has analyzed the entanglements of “homonormative” representations of gay rights politics with Dutch neo-nationalist populism and anti-Islam discourses. As an activist, Mepschen has been involved in various progressive social movements, including labor and anti-racism activism. He has co-founded the leftist think tank TENK. Within SIT, he is responsible for the module on post-migration communities, in which he discusses multicultural sexual politics, sex education classes and multi-ethnic kids, and the experiences of queer Muslims. His module also includes a meet and greet with Chris Belloni, director of the documentary I Am Gay and Muslim (2012).
Guno Jones, Research Methods and Ethics Module Coordinator
Guno Jones is an interdisciplinary scholar who received his PhD at the VU University in Amsterdam, where he is affiliated with the Faculty of Social Sciences. He held several research positions at the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam. As a lecturer, he taught on a variety of subjects at both universities. His main research interests are on citizenship, postcolonial migration, and the nation in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the UK; the heritage of World War II; and the heritage of colonialism and slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies. He has participated in many post-doc research projects. Among others, he was a member of the research program The Dynamics of War Heritage, Memory, and Remembrance and was part of the research program Inclusive Thinking: The Policy and Practice of Diversity in the Netherlands in Historical Context. Guno has published many articles and books, including an article on the instability of postcolonial citizenship in the anthology Dutch Racism by Philomena Essed and Isabel Hoving. He also has worked as a manuscript reviewer for the journals Ethnic and Racial Studies and Women's Studies. Within SIT, Guno coordinates the module on Research Methods and Ethics.