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.
Pascal Vandaele is a functional analyst in the Gismo Team at DICT (department of Information and Communication Technology). A job that lends itself to working from home, although he’s certainly been missing the contact with colleagues. Gismo will be a general platform, where researchers and the general public can go for all kinds of research information.
What did 2020 mean to you?
“Apart from Corona, 2020 was a year with many changes. I transferred from the private sector to Ghent University. It’s a big step when you have a new employer for the first time in 21 years. Above all, it gives me more stability. 2020 is also the year when I first learned to ride a motorbike. When I switched jobs I needed to find a new method of transport to replace my company car. I wanted to make an eco-friendly choice. Since I live too far away to come by bike I decided on an electrical motorbike. I adore riding an electric bike. Accelerating so fast without gears, only a gentle hum so you can literally still hear the birds singing...
The downside was the loss of my father at the end of 2019. I live a long way from my parents, so we saw very little of one another. However, his death leaves a real void.
Luckily, there was also some positive news in 2020. I became a 'godfather' for the first time, to the son of my youngest brother. My brother now sends me regular photos, as we’re unable to see much of each other. That blasted virus puts a damper on everything. I still need to give my godson a bottle (laughs).”
Who do you most admire at Ghent University?
“For me, that would certainly include all the volunteers who came to help in June and August, in managing the exams. I was also a volunteer at Flanders Expo. It was no easy task to make it possible for ten thousand students to take their exams in safety. Looking more closely in the workplace I think that Esther De Smet from the research department, DOZA, is an amazing person at Ghent University. In our project, she is the link to the faculties and departments. Thanks to her input and efforts we are able to achieve good results. Her diary is overflowing, and she is also raising her children alone. She’s amazing.”
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.
What did you personally achieve this year?
“The launch of the fourth part of the Gismo project, in which we now also give the general public access to research information. No simple matter from within your four walls, however, the team spirit and teamwork is the max! One colleague was even stuck for months in the Canary Islands, but managed to continue working from there. So, thanks to all the team, we did it together!”
Of which accomplishment are you most proud?
“Choosing an electric motorbike. It means I am doing my bit for the climate.”
What will you carry over to 2021?
“Every single member of my family, without losing any one of them. Along with the few good memories from 2020, while forgetting the rest as quickly as possible.”
What do you hope for in 2021?
“Two things. I hope that everybody will use their common sense during the festive season, so that we can soon move on from this misery. However, that might be rather optimistic. I also hope that my son manages to keep his head down this school year, so that he can sign up for Ghent University next academic year. His mind was made up long ago, and now he needs to make his dreams come true. I am quietly confident, but it’s not easy for him. I can imagine that his Dad’s at home rather too much to check up on him as well (laughs).”
Imagine you could return to 1 January 2020. What would you do?
“I would invest all my money in mouth masks, hand gel and plexiglass. Then I would probably be rich (laughs). Otherwise, I would warn everybody of the pandemic ahead. But who would have believed me?”
What do you wish others in 2021?
“A healthy mind in a healthy body, and the company of all of their loved ones. Keep it safe!”
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.