Portrait of a Student: Kim van der Toorn

By Tessa van Hoorn

Picture by Ana Terol

The first thing we notice when walking into Kim van der Toorn’s room is the floor; it is not red, like all the other Roggeveenhof floors, but looks like wood. Kim laughs and mentions the floor was the reason she picked this room specifically. Ana and I are here for a new PhoRa project, which wants to create special portraits about fellow students.

Another thing that can immediately be noticed is the cosy and inviting atmosphere of Kim’s room. This is important for her, she likes to have people around and her door is open the whole time we are there. The people were the more important reason why she chose this room; she moved from Koestraat to Roggeveenhof because ‘if you have your friends around, it does not matter where you live’. This strong connection to people can also be seen in the many pictures on her wall, but it is not all in what you can see. Kim is a person who likes to serve the community, currently as Chair of the Red Cross Student Desk Zeeland. She tells us about a new project they started at a primary school in Dauwendaele, the less affluent area of Middelburg. They read stories to the children so they get into contact with books more than they do now. For Kim there is a special connection, since her little brother has dyslexia and is very insecure about reading. She tries to give such children extra special attention so they might enjoy reading as much as she does.

Clearly, books are important to her; the shelves in her room are stuffed with them, and her IRP is about Roald Dahl. When I ask her why, she answers that ‘all learning goes through reading’, so if you can enjoy reading, learning will come easier as well. Also, books can take you anywhere you want to go, you can be anything you want through a book. The most valuable lesson she learned through a book came from a novel named The Other Hand by Chris Cleave; it taught her about different perspectives in life and made her appreciate how lucky she is to be born in the family and country she lives in.

Her great care for people also comes forward when we talk about her recently discovered hobby: plants. Her whole windowsill is covered with ‘Moestuintjes’ and flowers that still need to grow. She tells me her friends think it is symbolic to her, as she lost someone close to her not long ago. She jokingly says she is not convinced about this theory, but it is clear that she deeply cares about the people around and close to her. It was very special to see how she can already talk about it so openly; to me this signifies the strong and caring person she is!

If you would like to contribute to the PhoRa project, or extend it to people in Middelburg, send a message to [email protected]!

Tessa van Hoorn, class of 2015, is a Social Science major from Haaften, The Netherlands.

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