We’re all snowflakes

By Jinrui Zhang

Loose words, like snow that falls but doesn’t stick. This College has been my home for more than two years, and I feel at home. An ‘International’ College that is liberal and promotes ‘diversity’, that is what it seems to be. We have students from nations all across the globe! China, Namibia, Singapore, Brazil, Japan, South Africa… Anglo Saxon expats from all over the globe and all the IB students we could find. My words perhaps make two thirds of you uncomfortable, and another third disappointed. And that is exactly the reason for uttering them.

Enough poetic free writing, now we must address some problems. I will start with the Dutchies, since this is their country. This Dutch college is supposed to be diverse and create an international environment. I have yet to meet a Dutch student of Indonesian, Moroccan or Turkish ethnicity. By saying this, I am not assuming the complete absence of minorities, but pointing out that they are severely under-represented. From what I can see, these minorities are present in every stratum of Dutch society and vital to its functioning. To those of you who want to be in charge of this country in the near future, ambitious to be impactful or even just lead on a quiet and comfortable life in the Netherlands, is there any benefit to be in a place that is so far from Dutch reality? I laugh when politics of migration come up in conversation, and all kinds of comments, assumptions and statements are made, all of them so righteous, critical and insightful, but all without the presence of an actual Dutch immigrant.

Now let’s leave the Dutchies for a bit and put the international students under fire. Most of them are painstakingly similar to each other: either expats that have always lived in a bubble of expats, or international third culture (or no culture) kids that lived most of their upbringing within the gates of IB schools. Again, no absolute assumptions are being made here, I am sure there are all sorts of exceptions to this ‘norm’, and all of them are ‘special’ and ‘different’. Most of them have travelled the world, but do they really understand the places they have lived in? Even the non-white international IB kids, do they truly understand the culture and life of the countries they lived in? Do they truly bring anything different from the norm other than the color of their skin? I might be a bit exaggerating, sound harsh and even offensive to some, but you wouldn’t be rustled if I didn’t fire shots.

Last Issue: economics. Is being at least upper middle class an entry requirement? Or is it just an inevitable truth that the societal mechanics hinder the education of less wealthy parts of the population? I blame no one for this issue (other than the insufficiency of financial assistance), but feel the dire need for voicing it, as it just further pushes our students from the actual realities of the world.

Most students are here for this college’s reputation and quality. It is up to all of us (students, staff, teachers, the UU) to decide whether we want to live up to the promises of a high-standard international education that promotes diversity, or make this campus a monocultural, or rather bi-cultural, Dutch and international European, safe space that is inaccessible to the poor and those who actually are different. Structural change only comes when there is absolute need, and the absence of criticism is the confirmation of the status quo.

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