We are nearing the end of this strange and special year, 2020. Time to reflect on the status quo. 20 people with links to Ghent University were selected at random. They tell us what 2020 meant to them, what they will carry over to next year and above all: what they hope for in 2021.
Alex Verhegge graduated from Ghent University in 1969 with a law degree. He launched his career as a lawyer and later combined this with an assistantship at the university. He then became a magistrate, and was ultimately employed at the prosecutor general’s office in the appeal court in Brussels, where he was forced to retire this year.
How was 2020 for you?
“It wasn’t an easy year. The corona virus broke out as my career was coming to its conclusion. I don’t like the word ‘retirement’, because retiring is not for me. If you, like me, are into your profession, this period just feels like a long holiday. Since beginning my final career I have been feeling the effects of pandemic very greatly. I can do less activities, I see less of my friends and family, and in the past months I have also lost a number of friends, who I had been unable to see since the beginning of the corona crisis. I do have more time for hobbies. I enjoy cycling and walking, I love swimming and I like to travel. During my career I have little time to do such things.”
Have you discovered anything new this year?
“I’ve discovered Zoom in recent months. I’m a member of a service club, and we normally meet on a regular basis. Of course, that was impossible with the pandemic, so we switched over to Zoom. And I’m now the proud owner of a smartphone. I received one from my children, as they felt I needed one. I do admit, it is rather useful.”
What are your plans for 2021?
“Most of it will be about the end of the pandemic. I hope to go to London again soon, to visit my godson, who lives there. He has recently become a dad, but sadly I’ve not been able to hold the baby yet. I also hope to be able to welcome family and friends again very soon. Not only that, there’s also a whole pile of books I’d like to read. They’ve been ready and waiting for years, but it’s only now that I have the time.”
Last year was like no other, but it was also filled with warmth. We supported each other and shared in each other’s ups and downs. Now this is your chance to thank everyone who was there for you. Not in the usual way, but with a virtual projection of your best wishes onto the Book Tower.
Who did you most admire at Ghent University?
“Professor Tessa Kerre. She conducts research into new techniques to combat cancer. She does great work and vital research. I also think that the rector, Rik Van de Walle, has done a good job. I think he took some essential decisions during the corona crisis. He holds a lot of responsibility and he certainly took it.”
Of which accomplishment are you most proud in the past year?
“I have discovered many beautiful places in and around Ghent. For example, Parkbos in Sint-Denijs-Westrem, the castles in Destelbergen and the cycling network around the river Leie. I have also discovered the Ghent University Museum. I think it’s a really good initiative by the university and can recommend a visit to everyone. This year, I walked a number of kilometres in the Stop Parkinson Walk. That’s a walk along the Belgian borders, aimed at raising money for research into Parkinson’s disease. It was fantastic.”
What do you hope for in 2021?
“The end of the pandemic. Like everyone else, I imagine. And that the economy recovers, because it will certainly continue to feel the effects. I also hope that my five grandchildren are successful. They have lots of potential, and I hope that they seize the opportunities they are given with both hands. I also hope that the world becomes a better place for them in the future.”
What would you like to carry over to 2021?
“That you must always battle on and never give up. That’s the most important thing I think. You need to stay positive, then things will go well in the end. People should also start by resolving their own affairs.”
20 people with links to Ghent University were selected at random. They tell us what 2020 meant to them, what they will carry over to next year and above all: what they hope for in 2021.