Interview with: Thijs from The Netherlands, 20 years old and student photography at ROC van Twente

When I got the chance to become part of the Lead the Change programme, I was very motivated, because it would be my first time to interact with people from other cultures all in one and at the same time to get to know my talents better. I was interested in languages at that time, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get to improve this and learn some more languages.

During Lead the Change I also learned to be more open to people from other cultures and to be more understanding towards people that can’t speak English that well yet. They actually had a lot of tell, it was just difficult for them to say it in English.  What I also learned is no matter where you come from… if you just put some people from a bunch of different cultures and languages together, you can build something! After a few days there was a real sense of unity among the participants and leaders. In the end it was so emotional. For me it meant that what the leaders set up there really worked. We could work well together and make an event for people in the village. It really brought us together. After the exchange I started to take more initiative and stand up for myself and for others. It was hard before, because usually I was shy, but I started to get better at it and become more communicative. I began to start up my life in general.

Non-formal education was effective for me, as I was like many other students: we are used to the formal system, we sit in the classroom and they teach you about what to do. There are the unwritten rules of the society there, you can really sense that in the atmosphere at schools, primary schools and universities.

What I really noticed during the exchanges I took part in, is that the atmosphere was really free. Nothing was forced. The participants had the chance to bring in their own ideas. This also happened during the exchange where I was a leader. The participants could take the initiative to organise themselves. The leaders were there to support them and make sure everything is ok, but the participants really had the freedom to express themselves.

The second time I was part of Lead the Change, I became a leader. I really discovered how much work it takes to set things up. First I was really nervous. But my doubt quickly vanished as soon as I got to meet all the people and when I started seeing that we were doing something good.

I made the following programmes possible;

Lead The Change 1 – 2016 – Italy

Lead The Change 2 – 2017 – The Netherlands

Thanks a lot Thijs and a special thanks to you for all the wonderful pictures on the TYC blog and website!