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TEDxDelft 2016 | Jasper van Kuijk | Do one thing every day that scares you

JASP7527A researcher and designer by training, and a comedian and columnist by profession, Jasper van Kuijk’s first appearance at TEDxDelft was five years ago, a mere three days following the premature arrival of his first child. He fondly recalled the moment as one inspired by large doses of caffeine and adrenaline.

Originally from The Hague, Van Kuijk studied Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology, returning as a PhD candidate and more recently Assistant Professor.  However, a theater and comedy course inspired Van Kuijk to join a comedy troupe and, when the group later disbanded, become a solo artist.

And as an educator, experienced performer, and public speaker, Van Kuijk felt certain that he should easily be able to drum up a suitable idea for TEDx Delft 2016 but was surprised to find he struggled. That was until he was reminded of a recent performance with his band. When asked to do the performance in English, Van Kuijk’s response was: “We only performed that set four times, as an experiment with an audience of 400 people, in Dutch, that’s a really crazy idea. OK, let’s do that!”

Today’s experimental musical performance – now translated into English and performed in front of an audience of 1100 people – embodied the sentiment of doing at least one scary thing on a daily basis. Van Kuijk’s music connects experiences of growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, discovering how your side of town has not changed despite your own evolution, and how “death makes a home in the little things”.

In the spirit of celebrating the universal genius, some lyrics from one of the numbers performed to remember:

“We now have more knowledge

Than we can comprehend

But it seems we’ve forgotten

It’s a means to an end

Love needs no reason.”

 

TEDxDelft 2016 | Kiza Magendane | Welcome to your new home

KIZA7488Kiza Magendane, writer and student, showed a picture of himself sitting next to a canal with an overwhelming smile. He asked the public an intriguing question: “Who would adopt this refugee? It is all for free. And I guarantee, you will not regret it.”

Born in Congo, Magendane entered the Netherlands as a refugee himself eight years ago, fleeing from the civil war. After finishing high school, he attended the University of Amsterdam, majoring in political sciences. He got involved in several associations focusing on bridging the gap between people with different backgrounds. Being a writer, he shared his opinion on Africa, politics and migration. Based on his own experiences, he founded African Students United.

Because everything is new, most arriving refugees do not feel at home at all. The recurring questions about how they got here, and why they left their country, are rather hard and personal. Moreover, refugees are often associated with negative images. Magendane felt he had to prove himself to be accepted as a human being: “Reducing a human to a number, takes their dignity away.” However, some people looked beyond the refugee label and supported him in developing a normal life.

Magendane believes he is not unique, and with the support of citizens, more success stories can be created. Magendane mentioned several people he met after arriving in the Netherlands who welcomed him, and encouraged and inspired him to achieve the best that he could. He encouraged everyone to do the same: “Home is relative, love is universal.” The government does not provide love, but citizens do: “Fellow human, adopt a refugee.”

TEDxDelft 2016 | Kiza Magendane | Welcome to your new home

Kiza Magendane“Refugees left their home, and we can help them build a new one,” says Kiza Magendane. A writer and student, he says the welcome they receive is a very positive one, but he argues we should try and improve it even further.

Magendane originally hails from the Congo, and eventually he moved to the Netherlands. After finishing high school he enrolled at the University of Amsterdam, where he studied political sciences. Starting in 2011 he also became very much involved in various groups and associations with a focus on such topics as the African youth diaspora in Europe, improving social cohesion in urban areas, and bringing together people from various backgrounds. In addition, he has written for various publications on Africa and politics and migration. “I am an opinion maker,” he said. His involvement with the various organizations has given him a very clear perspective on the integration of migrants in Dutch society and ideas on how he feels it could further improve.

The majority of the Dutch are very welcoming to refugees, Magendane explains. “Every day thousands invest their time in giving refugees a warm welcome and guiding them into Dutch society.” If this image is distorted in any way, it is because of the vocal minority found on various social media outlets. For Magendane, it is clear that the focus should be placed on those who, if silently, do their part and make a difference for so many people who have left their homes behind in search of a new one.

It is from these people that Magendane draws much of his own inspiration. “I see lots of people who take the initiative,” he said. “This is what inspires me.” Inspiration to think about new challenges that arise and need a solution. How to encourage people to make new connections, and instill in people the realization that they can help and make a difference for someone else. Ensuring that people understand one another better and feel more included as opposed to isolated in a center for asylum seekers. “Having a home is important for everyone,” he said. It is Magendane’s goal to inspire more and more people to continue welcoming refugees, and to help them build their new home.

Curious to hear how Kiza Magendane believes we can further help feel refugees welcome? Then buy your tickets now, join us on Friday 15 April and come celebrate the universal genius.