01 March 2022

The odd duck knows how to do it

A mentor once told me: you can neither teach what you do not know nor preach what you do not understand. So now that diversity and inclusion have become mantras in almost every workplace, I wonder if you can understand what it's like to be the odd one out without ever experiencing it yourself.
And what does it mean, for example, for the VU and its employee representation bodies to embody diversity and inclusion in policy, organization and core values?

As a migrant mother, I first entered a lecture hall when I was 40. Can you imagine how I felt then? During the first meetings I usually feel uncomfortable, I feel people look at me as if I don't belong.
Truth to be told, I do belong.

Thanks to the culture of diversity and inclusion at the VU, I only experienced this uneasiness during first encounters. As a council member of the student council, I got to know the VU on a deeper level. Not only do I get the chance to influence VU's decision-making, but I also learn how the university works, including its hopes and aspirations.

I'm at the right time, in the right place with the right people

Difficulties and clashes are part of a development process. I have to say that the more I get to know my classmates, who I thought were so different from me, the more I discovered what we have in common. More and more I am convinced that I am with the right people at the right time, in the right place.

Now that I know what it feels like to be a 'strange duck', I can better share insights to further propagate the culture of diversity and inclusion at the VU. By collaborating with others and opening up myself, I can truly say that I am contributing. The uneasiness in the first encounters can be traced back to the lack of knowledge and understanding. Once you open up and really accept others, magic happens. Undeniably, after my first experience as a stranger, an interesting sense of meaningful connection followed.

When in doubt, just try it. Follow your aspirations and apply for the university student council to get to know the university as a whole as well as possible.

Myra Colis
general council member

Myra Colis



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