The beginning of a beautiful friendship

By Sophia Blijden

Thursday, 8th of June 2017

I’ve been asking myself why I’m still here. The last couple of days have been a rollercoaster of emotions. There are moments when I feel so inspired by the speakers; like today when Niels Schuddeboom gave us a glimpse into his live. It makes me want to do good things and change the world. Other days I am in a downwards spiral. What’s the meaning of what we’re doing? Can we really change the world or are we just fooling ourselves? All these intense emotions are constantly lingering, waiting for a way to pop out either as teardrops or laughter.

I do know why I am still here though. Because as inspiring talks from Niels Schuddeboom about ableism and Halleh Ghorashi about integration, power dynamics and exclusion have been, the topics that stick with me the most are fellow talks and the conversations ‘outside’ of the program.

Today we had four fellow talks. First Kyra made us think very critical about the line between perpetrator and victim in war crimes. What makes us do certain deeds? Our academic thoughts were put into action by Nikki, who showed us a ‘media bubble’ workshop she does with high school kids. It was nice to feel eighteen again for a short period of time. Ilia shared her story about minorities in Greece and made us rethink the concept of democracy. Finally Jalyn wrapped up the fellow talks by raising awareness for the power of language; how we should be aware of the meaning behind words we say all the time and how they can effect minorities.

I am surrounded by so many intelligent, beautiful people. I can’t wait to begin working on our own projects together, for I want to learn even more from the experiences and thoughts of my peers. But most of all, I am so curious to see where all of us are a year from now. Will we have achieved some of our goals? Will we have made the world a better place? And more importantly: will we still remember the wonderful, personal stories we shared with each other this month?

Whatever happens, I already know that in the end, these incredible speakers aren’t the most valuable to me. My fellow fellows are. That’s why I am still here: because I honestly think – to quote Casablanca – this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship (with all of you).