Texel Week

After developing the entire plan of action in each of our sub – systems we headed to Texel for five days (Mon – Fri). We were told that afternoon that a few Texelaars would be coming to see what we had planned. The Texelaars who showed up were a couple of students, a farmer, a couple of people from the press, a musician and a few more. After a short presentation which comprised of our work and included ideas like movable dyke and automated unmanned vehicles. There was criticism from a few of the individuals, following this we were fully aware that our existing plans were a little over the top. The average Texelaar doesn’t want his island to be changed drastically and affected.

The following day (Tuesday) we planned that we would visit a few of the Texelaars. Each sub – system was to go and discuss with locals about the problems they were facing and what could be done to improve the present scenario. We had gone to speak with the owners of ‘Zelfpluktuin’. They had showed us the organic practices they follow; using coconut fibres in the soil. They explained that in the summers they open the farm where tourists and Texelaars come and eat the healthy handpicked fruits. They had their own drip irrigation mechanism which saves a lot of water. However, they had no interest in expanding their business in either Texel or abroad.

After the interviews, that same evening we sat down to discuss we each other about the Texelaars and their problems. The consensus was that Texelaars are individualistic, innovative and very concerned people about their island. This was the turning point of our proposal. We had to shift from a highly technical viewpoint into a more realistic viewpoint, to sell the plan to the Texelaars. Keeping these few points in mind we planned out an approach which was neither too imposing nor too subtle.

The following day we divided ourselves into 3 large groups, one taking care of the presentation, another taking care of the short movie and another taking care of the report. I was in the group taking care of the report. There was no shortage of ideas; ranging from an innovation platform, to a knowledge route, to a ‘necklace road’ where the harbour was the ‘jewel’. There were too many, and combining them into one unified idea was the difficult part. However, with one more day remaining we had to speed things up and get to a plan. Working from 8am to 2am the next day was something I’ve never done, and it was a good experience working with people in such a large group so it didn’t seem so daunting.

The ‘D’ day had come (Friday). We were scrambling with last minute editing, additions and improvisations on the report. We completed just in time, the presentation was at 2pm and I was surprised to see the number of people who had come. Almost 30 people, including the Alderman of Texel. The people who had showed up on Monday were present as well. After the presentation and the movie we were waiting for the feedback. Since the language was Dutch I could not understand it, though a friend was kind enough to translate it for me. From what I was told it was great work done by us and it had interesting prospects. They were surprised at how we switched over into a different style from the presentation that was given on Monday. However, they were afraid that this plan would just remain a plan and it would not be set in action. A small contract was made up which stated that we the students will visit (and help improve) Texel once at least in the coming year if called upon by Texel.

One the way back I was a little saddened that our short trip had come to an end. Since my background is Mechanical Engineering I had never worked with a group so big and I had not worked on a project of this scale. It was interesting to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I believe that experience opened up a different viewpoint in my life. It will definitely be etched in my memory forever. 

Syed Aaquib Hazari