New Year Wishes for 2023

New Year wishes should be about hope and possibilities, says Rob Verhofstad, chair of our Executive Board. Even though they may be somewhat overshadowed by our anxieties. Rob hopes the HAN community will experience more of what he’s seen in the past year: solidarity and the will to make a difference.

365811 Zonsopkomst aan het strand

Don’t give up. ‘If life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ is not just a well-worn proverb but also a succinct summary of an attitude toward life.

Certainly, there have been better times for optimists. New Year wishes should include words about hope and possibilities. But hope and possibilities are somewhat obscured by worries about the here and now, as well as the near and more distant future. 

I’m spending my Christmas holiday in a log cabin in Sweden. Winter here is dark, long, and cold. It doesn’t get light until after 9 am, and it’s dark again shortly after 3 pm. Swedes embrace the winter but prepare well for it. Their cupboards are well-stocked and their houses well-prepared. Perhaps this reflects their national character or reveals their philosophy: you can’t really influence external factors, but you can prepare and equip yourself to deal with them. They make their homes feel cozy and bright, and they seek each other out. That, to me, is an example of how we should deal with the world around us.

Messages from friends in Ukraine offer a similar life lesson. They began 2022 with optimism, wishing for happiness and health. No one considered what would happen to them starting 24 February 2022. What was unthinkable then is now everyday reality. The resilience they demonstrate is unprecedented and moving. When the electricity comes on suddenly in the middle of the night, they get up to do the things that require power. The country keeps running, unbroken by the relentless series of attacks. Solidarity is operating at full fighting strength.

“Don’t give up. ‘If life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ is not just a well-worn proverb but also a succinct summary of an attitude toward life.” 2023 will undoubtedly bring more surprises, some of which will be unpleasant. I hope for more of what I have already seen in the past year: solidarity and the desire to make a difference.

When war broke out in Ukraine, our students and colleagues rallied around students from Russia and Ukraine. It was the same with the protests in Iran, when we as the HAN community expressed the call to respect human rights. Similarly, with Coming Out Day and Orange the World, students and colleagues took the initiative to draw attention to the message: everyone belongs, everyone is welcome, and everyone can feel safe with us.

These are not times for complacency, for thinking that everything is over and done. Instead, these are moments when we can express how important it is to stand firm on a solid foundation and meet all our challenges and trials with a sense of community that extends to the outside world.

I send my best wishes to all HAN students and colleagues for solidarity and resilience in 2023!