Geert Somsen is human (and tells stories)

“It’s nice to be considered ‘human’ once in a while”, Geert Somsen writes to me in an email when I invite him to be the next person to be interviewed for the humans of FASoS. When I ask him what he exactly means by that when I meet him at Banditos, he laughs.

“Students somehow don’t see you as a human being. They see you as teacher. As something different, but not human. When you all of a sudden tell a student you are into mountain biking, it is as if they finally understand that you are a human, just like them.”

When he moved from Maastricht to New York for his Marie Curie fellowship, there suddenly was a whole lot less mountain biking to do. Here, he discovered a new hobby instead and started listening to various episodes of storytelling on National Public Radio. When he moved back to the Netherlands three years later, he wound up buying a house in Amsterdam from a woman who is a professional storyteller. He befriended her and, as he is involved in Studium Generale, asked her to give workshops in Maastricht to hopefully create a storytelling community here.

Storytelling has had a big impact on Geert’s life. He had always liked the arts, but after his first encounter with storytelling he started to see the lecture hall as his stage, where he does not simply state facts but tells a story about the subject matter to his students.

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