Name: Kelly Buis
Nickname: Everything that rhymes with ‘kel’ 🙂
Interests: Dancing salsa and bachata, reading political and historical novels
Favourite Quote: Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. – Buddha
Favourite place in The Hague: The Palace Garden. A park in the heart of the city centre where people and children from all different ages, nationalities, and backgrounds come together to enjoy a picnic, listen, and dance to music or work out.
Works/studies/lives in The Hague: I live and work in The Hague
My story begins when a boy from Lebanon named Taha said, “They are just like us.” He was referring to his former enemies whom he used to fight on the streets of his city. I met this 15-year-old in Tripoli, a city in Northern Lebanon, in 2016. At the time, I was conducting research for my Masters in Conflict Studies and Human Rights on the effect of reconciliation and dialogue initiatives of local Lebanese CSOs on the participating youth.
During a theatre project, youths from two neighbourhoods, each with a different religious affiliation, came together right after the tensions between the two areas escalated into a full-blown street war in 2014. The impossible became possible. The theatre project not only tore down the old religious divisions, it also made the participants realise they both suffered from the same socio-economic difficulties. Eventually, both sides became friends despite the resistance within both communities. It was when Taha mentioned “They are just like us,” that I realised the immense impact dialogue can have to relieve tensions and create understanding of ‘the other’.
Realising that change starts locally, I felt I needed to translate my research findings into project for my own city: The Hague. Even though the situation in The Hague is in no way comparable to that in Tripoli, we also suffer from physical and psychological segregation of communities. The immense diversity of our city – with more than 180 nationalities living together – can have a positive impact on our society if we actually meet and learn from each other. Yet, invisible barriers segregate neighbourhoods and communities and, thus, people.
That is when my idea TalkDiversity took shape. The Hague’s enormous diversity should be our strength, not our weakness. TalkDiversity brings together dialogue, active citizenship, and discovering the diversity of the city. This starts by creating a platform for youth to meet because the only way to challenge stereotypes, prejudices, and negative images of the other is through actually meeting the others, asking questions and sharing perspectives.
One Young World 2017 in Bogotá proved to be an eye-opener. The advice ‘just do it’ of several inspiring young leaders gave me the motivation to turn the idea into a reality. My belief in dialogue and youth empowerment drives me because the city of Peace & Justice should be a city in which every citizen feels at home.
1. Haagse Markt: The diversity in food, cultures, and nationalities that The Hague has to offer is visible at this multicultural market.
2. La Bodeguita or Havana: Dutch people don’t dance? You’re wrong! La Bodeguita on Friday night and Havana on Sunday night are the perfect places to dance salsa, bachata, merengue and kizomba! An incredibly diverse audience meets to dance the night away.
3. Kroketloket: For the one and only typical Dutch snack the ‘kroket’.