Humans of GZG / Marlene
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“GZG gave me a sense of purpose and a way to give back to Rotterdam and its inhabitants”

I found GZG very randomly whilst looking for vegan restaurants and joined the cooking within my first week of living in Rotterdam. I was predominantly looking to meet like-minded people but ended up finding so much more than just that.

I am from Germany but came to Rotterdam in 2018 for University. I ended up loving it here so I am now continuing with my Masters in Clinical Psychology at Erasmus University. I found the development of veganism quite similar in the Netherlands and Germany. There is a growing number of people interested in the ethical and sustainability aspects of it and the overall population is (very) slowly waking up to its benefits. The main difference I experienced is the selection in the supermarkets (esp things like spreads, tofu variations etc), which is far greater in Germany and at a better price point. I hope the Dutch will be able to experience this too soon!

For the first couple of years at GZG, I was an enthusiastic chef and joined almost every week. Nowadays, I am a bit shorter on time so I come to clean up the mess in the kitchen after dinner. There is more time to talk to the other volunteers and turn up the music for a little cleaning dance party. And I also enjoy tiding the pantry!

“It is easy to get into contact with everyone while cutting veggies”

Over the past year, GZG and its volunteers had to overcome many hurdles. But to no surprise, there are some quick and creative minds amongst the volunteers, so we had a corona-special up in no time. After that, we started giving out meals ‘to-go’ which was nice but made me somewhat miss the communal aspect of the project because there was so little interaction. On the more difficult side, I feel like we are still very dependent on a small group of volunteers behind the scenes for organization and step in in an “emergency” situation. I hope we can work on improving this soon.

I am a naturally rather shy person (even if some people don’t believe that) and I feel like people at GZG are always very open and interested in you as a person. It is easy to get into contact with everyone while cutting veggies. There always is the shared interest in great food and community and you can build from there. I have met so many inspiring people and keep meeting new ones every week!

Next to the new friends I found, volunteering at GZG gave me a sense of purpose and a way to give back to Rotterdam and its inhabitants, even if it is only a very small act. It has allowed for a better introduction and connection to the city, which I don’t think would have happened for me in my small bubble as an international student living.’