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Want to work on inclusion? Changing your language could be a starting point

Want to work on inclusion? Changing your language could be a starting point

‘Where you from?’ sounds like an innocent question, right? However, not for Andrea. She was born and raised in the city of Leiden in the Netherlands. But her interrogators, mostly strangers, rarely seem to be satisfied with that response. “No, I mean, where are you really from?”, they subsequently ask. And although Andrea has come across it repeatedly, she gets downhearted every time again. “Don’t these people realise that the word ‘really’ sounds like I could never really be from the Netherlands?,” she sighs “As if there’s an unwritten rule that people of colour could never truly be Dutch. It gives me the feeling of not belonging to my very own country.”

Andrea has known it for a long time, and many people have known it with her: language is an extremely powerful tool.

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Exploring the mind: traveling during coronatimes

Exploring the mind: traveling during coronatimes

Some of the most useful lessons I’ve ever learned were taught to me by a dead man. He had passed away some years already before he came into my life, but goodness, did he come into my life. I still vividly remember the pain I went through during my time as his apprentice. The terribly lengthy boredom. The frustration. The silence… I thought I would never, ever want him as my mentor again, but to tell you the truth… I might be ready for another round!

So, who is this man?

His name is Satya Narayan Goenka. A Burmese-Indian teacher of Vipassana meditation. Vipassana means “seeing things as they really are” and the goal is to purify the mind and eliminate negativities that make us miserable.

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Surinamese adventures: are you experienced?

Surinamese adventures: are you experienced?

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Suriname was one of the first countries that entered my travel bucket list and there were a few reasons for that. First, there was Orlando, my friend’s father, who was born and raised in Suriname. He used to tell us these fantastic childhood memories, that triggered my imagination.

I started to read about Suriname. Books such as ‘The Queen of Paramaribo’, about Maxi Linder, the most famous prostitute of Suriname. Back in her days, she financially took care of the underprivileged. Sadly enough she died as a lonely spinster, in a dirty backroom. I also read all the historical novels of Cynthia McLeod, about the history of Suriname. Dutch colonisation, life at the plantations, slavery.

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About Friendship & Red Ribbons: World AIDS Day

About Friendship & Red Ribbons: World AIDS Day

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Have you ever met someone with whom you immediately had such a strong connection, that you were sure that you had been friends in a previous life? It happened to me about 10 years ago, during a weekend break in São Paulo. He had a smile that blew my socks off, a boyish twinkle in his eyes, a full of life energy, and a mouth that really never (ever!) stopped talking. I was fascinated by him and he was fascinated by me, and that’s how it happened. We became best friends.

We started to hang out together. A lot. Roaming the streets and bars of our home town Rio de Janeiro, drinking and dancing, laughing and joking, discussing life, politics, music, sharing our dreams, our fears, our feelings. We knew everything about each other. At least, I thought we did.

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Storytelling for peace in Palestine

Storytelling for peace in Palestine

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I am standing in a bomb shelter in a kibbutz, somewhere between the beaches of Eilat and the barbed-wired border of Jordan. It’s extremely hot. The rattling air conditioning is working overtime. Outside the Negev desert stretches itself out, with its more than 13,000 km² of sand, stones and rocks.

Around me is a group of Brazilians. They are with twenty of them, and one is even louder than the other. They make jokes with each other, giggle, play around, slap each other on the back, laugh out loud, and give a cheerful edge to the stale air of the small room. They came here as part of a Brazilian government program, to learn the art of organic farming from the kibbutz population. And me?

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From Paraguay with love: when home’s not home

From Paraguay with love: when home’s not home

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My friends always joke I am from Paraguay.

Paraguay. That small South-American country with less than 7 million inhabitants, sandwiched between Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina. Famous for its hot lowlands and lush rainforest, its capital Asuncion, its Guaraní Indians, its Jesuits, its cowboys and its good meat.

But do you know where Paraguay is most famous for? It’s for its fake products.

And this is the country my friends joke I am from.

They couldn’t be more wrong though, as I come from Noordwijk, a small seaside town not far from Amsterdam.

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