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Letter from the IHS AI President Mansi Jasuja to the alumni community

Updated: Oct 29, 2019



Dear Alumni,


Remember when you were studying at IHS - whether it was a few years or decades ago? Remember those moments within the Dutch cities when you inevitably compared them with your own neighbourhood, your own city you grew up in or came from? Remember comparing the positives, the negatives? I am sure there were points you thought you missed from your place in Rotterdam and there were probably elements in the Dutch urban infrastructure that you wished for in your own cities.


In many ways, I believe what IHS has achieved the most in its 60+ years of existence is to inspire and trigger ideas about other ways of living and finding solutions, through classroom learning, through intensive intercultural exchange between students and teachers, and through osmosis of living in a different urban situation.


The IHS Alumni International Board has the pleasure to work and interact with many of you - visionaries and change makers - in our position to bring this network closer. We are inspired by your stories & photos that make their way to our social media and by articles and project news in our blog www.makingcitieswork.net/blog. We are inspired by the outstanding urban professionals who win the Urban Professional Awards, as well as by those of you sharing your knowledge through the webinar series we organise and broadcast to the community. Face to face interactions, in which we happen to meet you during local alumni meets or conferences, events in the course of our own work are also a great reminder of the incredibly connected and talented family that we have - the IHS alumni family!


On our side, preparations are on again in our board to bring to you the next Urban & Youth Professional Awards during the World Urban Forum in February 2020 at Abu Dhabi. We’ll be approaching you soon with a Call for Nominations. Also, new webinars will happen in May and June. You can find out more here. Last year we did a diagnostic survey with you and the follow-up to your comments and needs is ongoing. We always welcome your participation and enthusiasm for new ideas, so keep them coming! Contact us via email at alumni@ihs.nl.


The awards last year were a good moment for me to reflect to reflect on outstanding urban leaders, which is why I would like to end with some food for thought on this matter. In all the excellent leaders I have ever met, I have detected a strong motivation and wondered where this motivation comes from. The answer is simple. Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with and for people we care about. To really care about people, we need to understand them - what they like and dislike, what they feel, what they think, what are the things that bring them joy. To me, a city is not about buildings and walls and roads and sewage lines. To me, a city is about people and the living world and the millions of interactions that happen among them. To me, a city is about trees, music, food, culture, history, love, comfort and community. Most importantly the city is about the diversity of stakeholders with different needs - that includes the vulnerable, the poor, the artistic, the invisible. So the urban planner is but a facilitator, who enables a landscape in which these interactions can take place in the best way possible. Giving a voice to the community and bringing their needs to the attention of the policymaker becomes of utmost importance.


Wishing you a very pleasant year ahead and hope you are continuing to make cities work!


Warm wishes,

Mansi Jasuja

President,

IHS Alumni International Board, Erasmus University Rotterdam