I first travelled to Burkina Faso, West Africa, in 1995 at age twenty-one. Educated as a rural development sociologist and anthropologist, I learned how people, as a result of their norms and values, cultures, and beliefs, may look differently at the same situation. I had to let go of my own preconceived thoughts about right and wrong, good and bad, happy and unhappy, and I learned how to look at situations form different angles and perspectives. I learned how to communicate with different people and how curiosity and letting go of my own judgements supported me in connection and understanding. When I first heard about Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in 2007, it all seemed to come together.
At that time, NVC mainly was a tool I used in my job (consultancy work mainly in Africa) to explore the values and needs of different groups of people, and to facilitate understanding and reasoned action amongst them. Much later I learned there was so much more depth in NVC consciousness. I learned to apply it in my own life — within myself and with the people around me — and experienced the magic of it.
As part of my regular job at Van Hall Larenstein (VHL) University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, I now train students in the master’s program in management of development and the bachelor’s program in international development management. I am proud that students now get introduced to Nonviolent Communication and can apply this both in their own lives and during their work in facilitating change toward a sustainable world. I trust these trainings may have a ripple effect and contribute to my vision: a world where everybody’s needs matter.
Another way to contribute to my vision of a world in which everybody’s needs matter is by living and teaching NVC through my own company, EmpaTilya. “Tilya” is the translation for giraffe in Moore, the most widely spoken local language from Burkina Faso. Tilya, a word in a relatively unknown language, highlights that NVC is a universal language that can contribute to peace and connection all over the world. Through EmpaTilya, I organize trainings to introduce Nonviolent Communication within my own community — Wageningen, the Netherlands — give in-company trainings, and do mediations and coaching.
Social change starts with connection!
- Conflict Transformation
- Education (including schools and youth programs)
- Leadership (including organizational culture and executive coaching)
- Social Change