Pride Month

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It’s pride month!

I’ve always been an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, but where I grew up, pride parades weren’t – and still aren’t really – a thing. While being an LGBTQ+ individual isn’t punishable where I come from, it isn’t celebrated either, which is why when I experienced my first pride parade, I was awestruck. It was fun, yes, but it was so special for me that people get to celebrate their identities that years ago, they might’ve had to hide, and perhaps even have to now. To learn more about the culture from an insider’s perspective, I got to talking with some of my friends from the community about what the Pride month, the Pride marches, and the growing LGBTQ+ community means to them.

To one of them, let’s call them Alex to protect their identity, the ability to go to a pride parade meant a lot. “I felt so excluded during my first pride parade. I wasn’t out yet and everyone was so unapologetically themselves. I wanted to join in, but even in that ‘safe’ community I felt like I had to hide myself. I can’t come out because where I come from, the LGBTQ+ community is heavily discriminated against. We aren’t hurt physically, unlike some other countries, but still, we won’t be given jobs, if we’re in school it is put on our transcripts if the schools find out, and we’re labeled like some inhumane property.  Not straight. Not cis. Crazy. Unstable. Satanic. I live two lives. One, every year during Pride in different countries in the world. Another, with my family, my friends back home, and in my workplace. One day, I will be as honest in my daily life about who I am as I can be in this community during Pride. This entire month is beautiful, and other may think its arbitrary, but its like Mother’s Day – it’s for appreciation, not some sort of ‘everyone must be gay’ propaganda. It lets some of us be us, in all our right.”

The right to your own identity can be a rare commodity yet. Rotterdam, and the Netherland’s environment, can be far more inclusive than others.

Some of the other people I met with shared their concerns about some of the issues they felt existed within the community. “It’s LGBTQ+, and some of us, we’re just the plus. So even within the community we’re less visible. I identity as asexual, and a lot of times they don’t accept my identity even within the community, because to them, asexuality means I cannot be sexy. Sometimes they comment on how the way I dress is against my identity. Some people don’t even know that being asexual doesn’t mean you’re aromantic! I can still fall in love. Perhaps it’s because we’re a small number within the community, and we don’t want to be a letter, but what we want is just to be recognized sometimes as valid. Yes, in this world of increased sexualization and fetishization, people who do not feel this way exist.”

I was also made aware of some very interesting perspectives on Pride. “It’s not that I hate pride. I think within the fun and the partying, people should stand in solidarity with those unable to express themselves like we have been allowed to. I love this community, I do, but what about those being executed, some even legally! I love that we are allowed to express ourselves, but some people spend so much money on arbitrary things for Pride, like rainbow colored fashion. Try as I might not to judge them, that money could go to those in need, those trying to escape their prosecution, those trying to survive. A quick Google search will introduce you to many charities around the world that try to help the LGBTQ+ community. Besides, this month changes nothing if we don’t try to strive for change. If every year, we make these efforts, maybe one day we’ll live in a world where your sexuality and gender identity doesn’t define your entire being.”

I did, in my past, feel that I didn’t belong at a Pride celebration because I am just an ally of the community, not a direct member. Some people agreed with my sentiments. “I don’t understand why you’d want to come anyway. It’s not your culture, or a culture you’d really understand. It’s nice you want to support us, but you get your day 365 days of the year. We don’t. So wanting it to be exclusive, well, it’s for us. You don’t celebrate the holidays of people that aren’t your religion, so why force yourself into someone’s celebration of their identity?”

But not everyone shared those sentiments, at least in my experience, most of them disagreed! “Pride is for everyone. Yeah, maybe you’re straight, maybe you’re cis, maybe you’re just here to put it on your Instagram story to reinforce that you’re an ally. But you’re expressing yourself. The fact that you came here means something – that fact that you came here and weren’t like ‘Where’s the Straight Parade’ also means something. And of course, some people may feel like you don’t belong – but who cares? As long as you’re having fun, as long as you’re just being you and not hurting people, who is anyone to tell you not to exist there? That’s what we’re fighting for, in the end. Everyone’s ability to just be themselves.”

And there’s a lot of little things you can do to support the LGBTQ+ community, all throughout the year, no matter who you are!

Some things can be simple, such as representation – look at this beautiful makeup look by IBCoM’s own, Basia Fourie. Follow her talent on Instagram: @makeartup

Support charities and donations, sometimes just through a petition! One site recommended to me was http://lgbtasylumsupport.nl/en/

To end this otherwise emotional post, I felt the need to lighten the spirits by reminding everyone to be a little more loving, a little more accepting, and a little more understanding, no matter who you are.

 

The Power of Storytelling – PAC World Café

PAC stands for the Professional Advisory Committee, a committee that “consults on ideas and visions that keep our degree programmes in tune with existing and emerging needs of the communication, culture and media sectors.” Last week, PAC had their first World Café on The Power of Storytelling, and IBCoMagazine was invited to join in on the debate. So here is my story about a discussion on storytelling… ironic, right?

The World Café was set up in two parts. The afternoon started with a panel discussion, moderated by our own Mijke Slot, who talked with five experts in the field of Communication and Media about what they think is important in telling a good story, and what their favorite story is. It was an interesting question, as it immediately showed the different types of people that were in the panel. Where one mentioned the storytelling of a particular brand or company, another pointed out a story about a Dutch farmer’s plights living in the USA at the time of recession, and again, another talked about the stories of migration. These were all types of storytelling, with similar yet unique characteristics.

The panel consisted of Dewi Lammerding, former digital transformation manager at Hearst Netherlands, Shelley Barendregt, who is a brand relations manager at FITGIRLCODE, Freek Staps, editor in chief at Dept, Rolf Harbers, senior consultant corporate communication & public affairs at Hill + Knowlton – which basically means: spin doctor – and Mia McKenzie, coordinator of integration/UN migration agency at IOM.nl.

As many times with job titles in our sector, this description doesn’t give me a clue as to what they do… except the editor in chief title. Fortunately, they provided us all with a folder where they had printed a more elaborative description of the professional careers of our experts for that afternoon. Descriptions that were so extensive, that I am not going to put them in here. Just google them 😉

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And then the serious business began: the discussions. Three rounds of discussion where students had to sit at a different table every time and discuss the questions that were given to us. Every round, there was a new question. Two questions were set up by PAC, and a third question was one created by the expert at that table. We ended up discussing the characteristics of a good story, the skills of a good storyteller, the sharing of positive stories to counter negative ones in the case of migration, the possibility of overusing storytelling, a case study about the Loo Palace and more.

Although everybody started off a bit shy, unknowing what to do or say, the discussion started to have a more natural flow through time. Whenever there was a silence, either the moderator or expert would come up with follow up questions or thoughts that could restart conversation. But we as IBCoM students usually do not have a hard time talking, asking questions and displaying curiosity, and the experts happily answered all the questions we threw at them.

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At the end of every discussion round (after twenty minutes), the moderators would sum up what the main conclusions where at their table. It was interesting to see both the similarities and differences every table had in their ideas. It displayed both the similarities and differences between, for example, journalism and advertising or public relations, and the way all disciplines make use of storytelling.

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As Tessa Boon, one of the PAC staff members, said to me after the World Café: “It is interesting to see that in so many different disciplines, there are still a lot of similarities in the answers to the questions. It shows how many ways and directions you can take with a program as IBCoM.”

As I said, the third round was a discussion question provided by the experts themselves. I ended up at the table of Mia McKenzie with Amanda Alencar as PAC moderator. Although I am myself not an expert on the topic of migration and immigrants, I found the discussion incredibly interesting. How do we counter negative perceptions of migration by sharing positive stories? Is victimization a good or bad frame of perception? How do you keep shifting the narrative to constantly make it interesting and new for the media agenda, even though it is always about migration?

The World Café was about storytelling. But actually, it was about much more than that.

For those thinking this is just me being positive about the event, because the faculty told me to, should talk to all the other students that went to this event. Before, during and after I talked to several of our lovely IBCoM students and all were sincerely interested in the panel and discussion.

As a first-year IBCoM student, Wouter, told me: “It is fun that everybody is participating in the discussions and conversations. Everybody thinks about the topic and adds to the conversation. I would like to go to the next one in September as well, no matter the topic. Basically all the topics related to IBCoM could be interesting for such a panel. There is plenty to discuss.”

The afternoon was closed off by a fun group picture, thank-you gifts for the experts for joining us and a small lottery where three students received a box of delicious chocolates. Too bad I wasn’t one of them… Still, a little ‘shout-out’ to Yijing Wang, Amanda Paz Alencar, Mijke Slot, Joep Hofhuis and Renée Mast for organising this engaging event.

The PAC World Café will be held biannually, in the Fall and Spring. The next one is scheduled in September and will have the same concept, just a different topic and probably different experts.

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Humans of IBCoM – Rachel Flier

 

untitled shoot-5252Second years are struggling through their internship, and third years are finishing up IBCoM by writing their thesis. Within this busy period, we were happy that Rachel found the time in her packed schedule to talk with us for this week’s Human of IBCoM.

As an ambassador, Rachel has guided and talked to innocent high school kids across campus to make them as enthusiastic about IBCoM as she is herself. “Sometimes you see someone at the beginning of the day who is doubting between maybe two or several studies. And then throughout the day they start to ask more questions and become seriously interested in the program. Seeing them become so enthusiastic is really great.”

“It is also a bit about selling. Usually, at the end I tell them they can contact me on Facebook whenever they have a question or need help with their application. There are some people who then reach out to me, which is really amazing. You can see what you are doing it for and that it really helps.”

Her origins are in a very small town in the Veluwe, in the Netherlands. A town, as she described, with “more cows than inhabitants”. After living in Rotterdam for three years, she developed a new appreciation for this calm place. “When I was younger I thought it was quiet and boring. However, now I can actually enjoy the quietness. It is a nice place to go to escape the big city. Ever since I moved to Rotterdam I have started to appreciate my ‘the Veluwe’ more.”

Besides her studies, her work as ambassador and her social life, she is also part of two committees of the rowing association Skadi, of which one she is the chairwoman of, taking Spanish lessons, and has started her internship with the Dutch political party VVD. She gladly explained how she can do it all, with a big smile on her face. “I have always been busy. I want to be doing things and meet up with people. I actually need to have people around me. I secretly enjoy hard work and pushing myself. With the committees, Spanish lessons and running every now and then… I like improving myself, both physically and mentally.”

But working in politics, as she is now doing with her internship, has not always been her dream. “When I was little my dream was to become a fashion designer! My dad thought it was very funny and he bought me a sewing machine. I absolutely loved it. My aunt has taught me sewing, since she is very creative in these things.”

“I cannot make my own clothes and I don’t want to be a designer anymore. IBCoM is my new dream. However, in my former room here in Rotterdam I had sown my own curtains and I can fix a loose button, a broken collar or take in a dress.” Now that is a skill that is actually useful!

Ambitious, driven, enthusiastic or just too much energy? One thing is for sure: Rachel made a good decision coming to the city, because this is the place for her. With something going on in every corner, life is never still or dull, and neither is she.