Drs. W.W. de Jong
Honorary member since the 19th of June 1971
Our first honorary member, Wander de Jong (1923 - 1992), was active as a teacher on the subject of methodology at our faculty. De Jong will always remain important for Ibn Battuta, for he is responsible for founding our wonderful association in 1961.
Wander was a passionate man, who tried to give answers and explanations to substantial questions within the field of geography. He didn’t shy away from looking at scientific methods in abstract and unorthodox ways. He was a creative spirit, who would try to make sense of the world around him from the perspective of an artist or a poet. He was equally interested in exotic countries, forms of modern art, and science.
His thirst for the unfamiliar had turned him into an experienced traveler and a proficient storyteller. He was always trying to get to the bottom of geographical themes and to make other people enthusiastic about these topics. Even though he never reached a doctorate degree, he did write multiple scientific papers and taught a lot of classes over a long period of time.
Besides his contributions to the scientific field, he also put effort into the establishment of social cohesion between geographers in Groningen. His love for traveling and his interest in the history of geography ultimately resulted in the founding of the geographical study association Ibn Battuta in 1961. He named the association after the Arabic scholar who was responsible for mapping a big part of the Eastern world in the 14th century.
In his final years, a lung disease, unfortunately, took away his ability to do the thing he loved the most, to travel. Nevertheless, his passion had taken him to all parts of the world. He had roamed the jungles of Belize, met with the local Tamils in Sri Lanka, and explored ancient ruins in Greece. His passion for traveling and geographical subjects can still be found in the mentality of the association he constituted. In that sense, we still honor Wander de Jong´s spirit by organizing a wide variety of activities, such as foreign excursions and lectures.