Shortly after I had stopped teaching, I enthusiastically started to take up receiving lessons, at the then fairly recently established Higher Education for the Elderly. HOVO is a somewhat less fortunate name for an excellent series of lectures in all kinds of fields, run by Leiden University. The RUL is not the only university that organizes this sort of thing: there are HOVOs at the VU, in Rotterdam, Utrecht and other places.

I took two, sometimes three lectures a week, from Egyptian Poetry to Modern Drama, from Latin for Gymnasium Students to Music History, from The French Novel in the 19th Century to Cobra. Divided over a spring and an autumn semester, there are a total of about 50 series, in which just under 2000 students are participating. Not only was it fun to follow these interesting lectures, most of which were given by (former) lecturers of Leiden University, new friendships were also formed, and I ran into old friends again after years.

When, after a few years, I was invited to sit on the HOVO board committee, the well-known round of introductions caused quite a bit of hilarity: “I taught your daughter and your son and your children at the Rijnlands” – almost all the professors present were the parents of former Rijnlanders. Initially, I was the only woman there, and the only non-pro, and I was allowed to represent the public for six years. Now our former colleague Netty van der Tak has succeeded me in this position.

Planning the courses, coming up with new topics, sometimes inviting a fascinating speaker (Fik Meijer, Jan Blokker Jr), often acting on wishes expressed by students, is an inspiring activity. I will miss it – but I will keep up the good work with my Latin lectures and well, what will it be next: James Joyce? King Arthur? I think I will avoid the courses in Elementary Particles, Analysing the Perspective in Pictures using Geometry, and the Great Teachers of the Church…

Kwis Kraus, March 2012