Universiteit Leiden

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Lifelong friendships, started in Leiden

30 July is the International Day of Friendship. The student years are a time when many close friendships are formed, and a surprising number of them last a whole lifetime. Two of our alumni share their stories about a special friendship.

Tamara and Corinne on a study trip with the Telders debating society, when they were students (in around 1982).
Tamara and Corinne on a study trip with the Telders debating society, in around 1982.

An intercontinental friendship

Corinne and Tamara met in the 1980-1981 academic year, when they were both studying Public international Law. They soon became best friends, and they still are today. What is the secret of their friendship? 'We have the same outlook on life, we're always there for one another, and we care a lot about one another!' Even when Corinne moved abroad - first to Chile and now she lives in the US - they kept their friendship alive. 'We tried to see one another once a year, and we still do that. Our families have also got to know one another well.' And luckily, modern means of communication make it much easier to stay in contact. 

Tamara (left) and Corinne, on their first trip together after almost forty years as friends.
Tamara (left) and Corinne, on their first trip together after almost forty years as friends.

When they were students, Tamara and Corinne made a number of trips together, including a visit to Geneva with the Telders debating society (see photo). Last year, after almost forty years as friends, they went on their first trip together with just the two of them. And this year, on the Day of Friendship, they are flying to Sicily to spend a few days together there!

The young generation carries on the friendship

Sometimes a friendship may start in the student years, but it only becomes really close later on. Jan Willem Broekema now goes on a weekend trip every year with friends from his biology debating society Homonunculus. The former students take their partners, children, and even grandchildren with them! He explains how these visits came about. 'In April 1991, around ten years after we had graduated, ten couples met up again in Limburg. They were responding to the call from two members of the Homunculus biology debating society to get together.' That meeting in 1991 was a great success and breathed new life into the group. 

The Homonunculus biology debating society in 1982
The Homonunculus biology debating society in 1982

‘Homunculus is now made up of more than fifteen couples from our student years, along with their children and partners, and even a number of grandchildren. Every year we get together for a long weekend around Ascension Day, somewhere in the Netherlands or nearby. In 2017 we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Homunculus in a castle in France. As well as the weekends away, we also see one another at parties, graduations and PhD defences. The younger generation have decided that they want to carry on the Homunculus Ascension Day weekend even after we, the parents, aren't around any more. Leiden friendships go a long way!'  

The Homonunculus Ascension Day weekend in 2017, when the debating society was 100 years old. Besides the original members and their partners, children and their partners also go on the annual weekend together.
The Homonunculus Ascension Day weekend in 2017, when the debating society was 100 years old. Besides the original members and their partners, children and their partners also go on the annual weekend together.
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