Mark from Adorp guides Rutte at UN

‘Mark’, he replied when Mark Rutte asks the RUG student from the Groningen town of Adorp his name. It’s a convenient name for the prime minister: ‘Easy to remember!’

The 23-year-old Mark Danhof had an important assignment in the last week of September. He was a guide for the prime minister on his four-day visit to the United Nations (UN) in New York. He picked him up from his hotel in the early morning and brought him back in the evening. In the meantime, he led the prime minister from one conference room to another via the confusing maze of corridors. The Groninger knows the UN building like the back of his hand.

Heavy-hitting delegation

Danhof studies international relations in Groningen, but since August, he has been doing an internship in New York at the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the UN. He is mainly occupied with disarmament and international safety.

‘He can flip the switch pretty well’
But this week was characterised by a heavy-hitting Dutch delegation for Danhof and his nine fellow interns, four of whom have also studied at the RUG. Rutte brought minister Koenders (Foreign affairs), minister Ploumen (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) and state secretary Mansveld (Environment) along with him. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima rounded out the group.

During his visit, Rutte discussed seventeen development goals which are meant to serve as a follow-up for the UN millennium goals. He also spoke briefly about equal rights for men and women. His visit had another goal as well: the Netherlands is hoping to be chosen for a temporary seat on the Security Council, and therefore has to make a good impression on the other countries. That could explain the V.I.P. delegation.

Energetic prime minister

Danhof got to experience it all up close. ‘It is a very secretive world, and then you get the chance to accompany the prime minister!’ He is very impressed by Rutte’s energy. ‘He is always happy and positive, but he can also flip the switch when the situation has to be serious.’

Danhof’s placement in New York is a chance for him to see which direction he wants to take in his career. He spoke with Rutte about this during one of his many walks with him- ‘he always wants to walk everywhere.’ Should he become a diplomat or ambassador? Danhof does not know yet. Whichever choice he makes, he now has a good connection.

Mark Danhof (in het midden achter de rechterarm van de dame met fototoestel) heeft heel wat kilometers te voet afgelegd met premier Mark Rutte (uiterst rechts).

Mark Danhof (in the middle, behind the right arm of the woman in the foreground) walked countless kilometers together with prime minister Mark Rutte (far right) this past week.