5 Questions for Eva Barbisch, Archivist

7 April 2021

In April 2021, we are reflecting on the past years the EAC has spent collecting and preserving life stories of expatriates worldwide and celebrating people who have played an important role in making the EAC what it is now. Photo by Carmen Morlon.

How did you get your start at the Expatriate Archive Centre and how long have you been working there?

When moving to the Netherlands I was looking for a volunteering position in an international environment here in The Hague. That is how everything started in 2013. After one year of volunteering at the EAC, I got the opportunity to apply for the archivist’s position. So, for almost seven years now I have been working as the EAC’s archivist.


What originally got you interested in your current field of work?

I was always attracted by the whole concept of researching source material while sitting in an (ideally old and dusty) study room and slowly building up a virtual connection with the original creator of the material. For me, archives represent places where the past is kept alive and valued as a bridge to the unknown future. When I applied at the EAC, I was thrilled by the idea of becoming an active part in this microcosm and contributing my share in creating a bit of history.


What are you most proud of during your career at the EAC?

I am most proud of the many things we have achieved ‘beyond the veils’, very likely unseen or unrecognized by any visitor but important for the further development of the EAC in times of rapidly changing professional requirements. All those countless policy documents, procedures, and guidelines created for all the different areas of archiving, preserving, and facilitating researchers will hopefully serve the EAC as a sustainable foundation for its future growths.


What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen outside of your office window?

This question is difficult to answer since looking out of our windows was very often a source of interesting experiences before we started our new home office routines due to COVID-19. But to keep it short: For quite a long time there was this picture of a cat placed in one of the windows opposite to our office. It looked so real that it took me a while until I found out that it actually wasn’t a real cat. And soon I realized that obviously I wasn’t the only one being fooled by the ‘fake-cat‘. It became a funny game between us ‘old staffers’ to see and wait how long it would take any newcomer to find out about the cat… and it always happened, sooner or later.


When it is safe to do so again, where would you like to travel that you’ve never been before?

Out of the many places I still want to visit I would like to travel and explore the North. Greenland, Finland, and Iceland are on my top-priority list, but I wouldn’t mind to give it a break by visiting Japan and New Zealand in between.