Humans of IBCoM – Zouhair Hammana’s Story

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The turbulent winds on a otherwise sunny day accompanied me as I interviewed Mr. Zouhair Hammana, a PhD candidate and tutorial teacher at EUR. “I’m exploring, in short, how secondary education teachers engage with diversity.” Mr. Hammana is passionate about emancipating margined groups in society, and combining his passion with academia decided to explore this topic within the Netherlands.

“I just really got involved with the IBCoM program this term by teaching [Intercultural Communication and the Research Workshops], and I do think this program is pretty great. It combines a lot of things relevant to those interested in communication media – such as the sociological aspects and the business aspects to it.”

As he’s a fairly new addition to the diverse community within IBCoM and connected to the world of intercultural communication, I asked him about his thoughts on IBCoM’s diversity. “Of course, there’s a lot of people from different places apart from Netherlands… but there is a difference between a diverse community – like a diverse staff or student body – and diverse information and knowledge. The curriculum concentrates a lot on the Western perspective, all the theories studied are from the ‘Western’ word. I don’t mean to say this is wrong, and I completely understand why. We are in a Western environment – in a Western country – and that’s the norm in education. I just hope one day to further have more inclusive information taught as well, not just for IBCoM or EUR, but in all universities as much as possible.”

After diverting to a long conversation about education’s Western bias, I wanted to know more about what he thought could be done to reduce that kind of inherent bias. “I don’t really think it’s feasible to eradicate the bias because that requires inclusivity to be introduced even before schooling, like maybe in kindergarten or before that. I think there’s always a little bias, but what we can do and what is possible to do is to be more open to others’ ideas, while being aware of our own perspectives and frames of references. Being more open just means receiving these different ‘messages’ and making them a constructive dialogue where one perspective doesn’t stand superior than the other, but that these different truths exist alongside each other, and that your perspective is just your truth, not a universal truth.”

Apart from this incredibly academic conversations, Mr. Hammana also mentioned he has a life beyond this. “I love rock climbing and kendo [a Japanese martial art] and I try to practice whenever I can, around two times a week. I also have liked comics since I was a kid. The first comic I remember reading was one of the Spiderman ones – I can’t remember specifically which one – but I bought it second hand during Queen’s Day [now King’s Day]. After that I really got immersed into that world, Marvel and then DC as well. I’m pretty sure my favorite Marvel superhero is Kamala Khan [one of the Captain Marvels] but I also really like Miles Morales [one of the Spidermen]. My favorite DC superhero has to be Batman because he doesn’t have superpowers, but practiced martial arts. Well, I guess you could argue Batman’s superpower is white privilege because that’s the money he uses for his gadgets.” After that turned into a conversation on how I think Batman exists without that privilege (I could go on about Batman, seriously), we came back to the issue of diversity.

“I am glad [diversity] is discussed more now, and that the issues are more noticed, but sometimes I do feel like it becomes more of a marketing tactic than something that really trying to reduce the marginalization of some groups. But it is a step towards the ‘better’.”