Over the years, multiculturalism has been a big personality trait of mine. I was born in Spain, raised in Portugal, I have a Dutch nationality and my roots are Angolan as well as Antillean. Growing up, I felt like I could accommodate all these cultures but not fully belong or completely relate to any of them. When replying to the simple “Where are you from?” question, I usually have a hard time defining which country truly feels like home.
Nonetheless, I’m grateful that my multilingual background allows me to connect to so many individuals based on shared values. I’m lucky to say that studying at VU Amsterdam has emphasized this feeling of gratefulness thanks to our large population of international students. Having the resources to be part of such a culturally diverse environment and being able to learn from it is a privilege that I can’t take for granted. Overall, I think these intergroup interactions are the ones that undoubtedly help me develop part of my personal identity.
‘I want to use my role to increase the representation of the black community amongst staff’
Despite being fortunate enough to have multiple cultural memberships, I’ve always strived for a deeper sense of belonging. I can now say I feel “at home” when I connect with my ancestors and roots. Surrounding myself with people that look like me gives me the satisfying sensation of wholeness that I’ve always searched for. I’m thankful for my people and I can’t deny the role they are having in helping me grow. Since now I am in a position with a higher reach, I wish to make the Black & African Diaspora Association more visible. On top of this, I also want to use my role to increase the representation of the black community amongst staff.
By the end of this board year, I want to look back and say that I contributed to decolonizing our curriculum, created safe spaces for black people as well as those interested in learning more. Furthermore, from a student-to-student perspective, I want our student community to know that VU Amsterdam and the University Student Council are always there to support them. Our university has great initiatives, supporting systems and is filled with inspirational individuals that deserve all the recognition. Although the responsibilities this role carries is sometimes intimidating, every day I feel extremely thankful for all the students that put me in this position. I hope to repay every single one of them by making the best possible changes this academic year.