Back home: Ruthie Delwel


Ruthie Delwel, business leader of the Arab Film Festival, has just arrived home after a long sabbatical in Australia. This relatively quiet period has done her well, and now she sparkles with energy to organize the festival the next 3 months. Australian energy?

Why did you decide to go to Australia for such a long time?


First and foremost, I went to Australia in order to spend more time with my boyfriend. He lives there for some years and I wanted to be with him. At the same time I felt that this would be a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. If I wanted to do such a thing, I had to do it right now. So I grasped this chance and considered it a possibility to get to know another culture and to step out of my comfort zone completely.

Did you continue to work for the festival over there?


Yes, for sure! I worked approximately one day and a half per week on the festival. I enjoyed keeping on working on the festival, in fact, my work for the festival structured my days! When you have just arrived in a new country, everything is new and not familiar. After the first weekend, my boyfriend Harry got back to work again. So there I was, doing nothing.. Especially in the beginning the festival made my days useful, but in the course of time I started to undertake more activities of course. Most of my work I could do by e-mail.

What did your stay abroad bring you in personal terms?


I experienced less stress and I had a more peaceful state of mind. Finally I had the time to reflect on what is really important to me. I realized that I have been very busy the past few years, too busy maybe. It took me months before I didn’t feel tired anymore. I did sports every day, but I also relaxed a lot and read a lot. Because I don’t feel tired anymore, I don’t get stressed that easily anymore, even though I am busy. And I realize that I don’t want to be as busy as I used to be anymore.

Did you also get disappointed about some things in Australia?


It is very difficult to become part of Australian society. When I looked for a job, I noticed that they preferred to employ Australians. There is an island culture and they are primarily focused on themselves. But in spite of this I had a really good time over there.

Which inspiring ideas did you bring with you for the festival?


In Australia there is a huge diversity of backgrounds and cultures. Rotterdam is just like this, and I have always considered this a great power. By seeing all these different cultures over there, I realized once more how much energy and inspiration this brings. In this way, my stay in Australia affirmed my conviction that we are doing very well in Rotterdam. And I can’t wait to show this cultural diversity during our festival of course!