Everyone knows… #3Khaled Mustafa
‘I don’t debate students’
In spite of his sleep deprivation, he’s more than happy to help a supplier who’s struggling to get their food trolley into the lift. Khaled Mustafa is wearing a black blazer over a white shirt with a colourful print, sporting nice trainers under his jeans. His outfit matches the energy with which he moves through the University library. He greets the various students he runs into with fist bump.
This is the reason he wanted to do something else after finishing his studies in IT. ‘I’m a people person, not a computer person.’
He’s only been working at the UG for two and a half years, but he knew right away that this was the place for him. When the university called him to invite him for a job interview, he was on holiday. ‘They told me to enjoy my holiday and interview with them when I got back. That’s when I knew.’
Khaled loves students, and they love their Syrian teddy bear, which is what they call him. ‘I’ve always wanted to help people. I offer them an alternative, because I want them to be happy.’
I’m a people person, not a computer person
He gets along with the students so well because he’s got kids their age. He knows exactly how to treat them. ‘I don’t debate them. They’re smarter than the average kid, so that’s a fight you can’t win.’ He’s also multilingual, which makes him popular with the international students. ‘When I hear students talking in Arabic or Greek, I’ll join them. They’re always really surprised’, he says, laughing.
During the pandemic, lonely students would come up to him for a chat. ‘I had some really personal conversations with them. They were truly special.’
One student in particular was happy with him. ‘She asked one of my colleagues if I was still single. She wanted to set me up with her mother.’
Occasionally, he locks his students in the library, though. Accidentally, of course: sometimes, students are still in the bathroom when he’s locking up. ‘I always shout really loudly and check all the toilets, but sometimes there’s still someone in there’, he laughs.
Khaled spends half his time at the reception desk, where he answers students’ questions. The rest of his time is spent reminding the students of the house rules or fixing broken computers.
Watching how hard students work, day and night, just gives me goosebumps
What Khaled loves most about his job is the dynamic he has with students. ‘Watching how hard they work, day and night, just gives me goosebumps. That’s our future.’
In addition to his job at the UB, he’s a national referee at the KNVB. He also volunteers for the Red Cross, which comes in handy at his regular job. ‘Whenever something happens, they usually send me, since I have the most experience.’
When he really needs to clear his head, he’ll go running, without music. That’s the reason he’s always so happy at work, he thinks. ‘If you exercise, you’re always happy. That’s the secret.’
Series | There are some UG employees that everyone knows. The cafeteria worker with the nice laugh, the concierge who can always tell you how to get somewhere.