‘What inspired you most?

The next step

The Making of an Inclusive Leiden University - Do’s and Don’ts. What inspired you most? And what will your next move be? Some views expressed by the participants.

‘Every story matters’

“I was definitely inspired by Aminata Cairo’s speech. I can really relate to the family dynamics she described from her personal point of view. I realise now that every culture, every history, every personal story matters. When it comes to diversity, it’s about whose story is validated, and which stories are invalid. We don’t ask questions, so things  become normalised. That way, we are conditioned by society.”



Phoebe Oti

Student, International Studies


‘There is a lot of bias’

“I’m doing research on the education of students with special needs, so I’m aware of the fact that there is a lot of bias and discrimination against anyone who is different.”

Rianne Feijt, PhD Student, Child and Educational Studies, Leiden University

‘Powerful and personal’

“The presentation by Aminata Cairo was very powerful, personal and inspirational. She really motivated me by being so open about her own experiences.”

Waldemar Wolters

Student and Faculty Council member at the Humanities Faculty

‘Teachers have an enormous impact on us’

“I thought the theatre sketches were very interesting. In particular, the sketch of the biased teacher. Of course, it was a bit exaggerated, but it’s not a fantasy - it’s happening for real. A lot of teachers aren’t aware of their implicit beliefs, assumptions or stereotyping. Not only that, they don’t realise how important a role they play in our lives, or the impact they have on us.”


Büsra Dalka

Student, Clinical Psychology


‘Sketches were enlightening’

“I was really inspired by the sketches. To see both sides, right in front of you, it’s confronting but also enlightening. I am a teacher, and from my own experience I know that you can easily overlook the quiet students, and pay more attention to the enthusiastic ones. As teachers, it is our job to include all students, regardless of their background.”



Inge van der Heijden

Senior researcher, Science and Technology Studies

‘Aminata definitely a highlight’

“For me, Aminata’s speech was definitely a highlight. But the whole day was great: this symposium emphasises how important diversity is for our university. I was really inspired by the notion that we should not just be managing diversity but we should be engaging with it. That’s something I will definitely take away with me, particularly in the projects I organise for the Humanities faculty."

Aurelie van ‘t Slot

Student and Faculty Board member at the Humanities Faculty


‘Not everyone is the same’

“Diversity is about accepting the fact that not everyone is the same. I like to believe we live in a diverse world, but in the street, there are still people who take pleasure in greeting me with the words ‘Ni Hao’. It’s possible they mean no harm, but I always feel bad when that happens. It’s like they’re saying: ‘You’re different from us and I am greeting you in the language I think you should be greeted in. It makes me defensive, and that is not how I want to react.”


Yuko Shimomoto

Student, Akita International University


‘Keen to learn’

“I came here because I was keen to learn about the research on discrimination on the labour market. I am a master’s student at the Faculty of Governance and I’m planning to write my thesis on the difficulties women encounter completing a PhD, when they also have a child. But what stayed with me was the story of black motherhood, of being a mother - not with the job of seeing your child do well, but keeping him or her alive. Just because you’re black.”


Jeannet Overeem-Duijnstee,
PhD candidate Science and Technology Studies

‘Hilarious and confronting’

“The theatre sketches were hilarious and confronting as well. We could laugh at them, but the actors, who played the parts of biased professors also made us realise that these things actually happen in our community.”






Suzanne Ruhof

Student of Literature, Leiden University

‘This is how you do it’

“I was pleasantly surprised by the energy and positivity of today’s symposium. It truly felt inclusive. As a Faculty Board member, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot: how do we make the university an inclusive place? Well, this is how you do it. I felt included today. Another important lesson came from Aminata Cairo. She told us that you don’t have to approach everyone in the same way. It’s okay to approach people in the way they feel most comfortable with.”


Michelle Verheij

Student and Faculty Board member at the Law Faculty

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