Kortrijk, you’re a tough nut. You set a bar, we reach the bar, you set it higher: not young enough, not old enough, not nederlandstalig enough, not new enough, not here long enough, not diploma’ed enough, not poor enough, not rich enough, not Muslim / Christian / Hindu / … religious enough, not socialist, communist, green, or whatever political nightmare there is enough, not refugee, not asylum seeker, too western, too American, too progressive in one’s thinking, too blunt, too introvert, too quiet, too loud, too …. white even. What’ll it be today: too short? Too female? Too haven’t had your hair cut in awhile? Too likes to take pictures of trees? Not hipster enough? Not tan enough? Not comfortable on a bike enough? Me???

Person: no more, no less than anyone else in town.

Maybe you should include your list of “requirements to be considered as equal” in the new Kortrijkzaan brochure??? And let me know what I’m supposed to write on my label.


From a fan of samenwerking

Concurrentie … I’m so tired of hearing this word.

In a meeting this week it was said again that Taalcafé is seen as a rival. Are you kidding me??? With OpenDeur we’ve done nothing but try to work with anyone and everyone that is interested in helping new people find their way – whether that be with language or making friends or finding interesting activities. What makes our work different is that it is often the new people that are helping the new people: voor en door anderstaligen / nieuwkomers / immigranten / vreemdelingen … while you argue over the politically correct term, we’re getting on with life-building.

If you really truly put best interests first then you would see that some activities work for some people and others do not. You would reach out to all the potential PARTNER organisations with different projects and types of support to find the right match – instead of closing your door on them. You would also take the dreams and wishes of newcomers and do your damnedest to help them realize these dreams and wishes instead of saying things like “that’s not possible” or “let’s not get people’s hopes up”. No kidding – you would not believe some of the things I’ve heard from those in a position to guide.

BTW, in this day and age, anyone can get a piece of paper that says they passed an exam. However, and as so many of the newcomers are finding out now, a diploma alone means nothing. Where are the people that value life experience and the gift of connection with others??? Where are the people willing to accept the fact that newcomers have the missing key to real “samenleven”??? I know where they are and I will be forever grateful for their kindness, patience, and support ♥

Since you can’t be bothered to come see for yourself, I’ll tell you that Taalcafé is actually social network building. Nederlands comes into play but so do our own languages, our experience and the world and life knowledge that we’ve brought with us to Kortrijk. In Taalcafé and in every single activity we organize, the tapping of that potential is key.

You want to know who our public is? Well, to be honest, it’s often people that get tired of being told they can’t when they know all too well that they can. It’s the people that tire of being told “Nederlands, Nederlands, Nederlands” when they feel that no matter how much Nederlands they learn, it might never be enough. We also get the people that want to be treated like people and not problems.


Every single person you meet has baggage that only they can carry. Sometimes, not always,  we know what’s in the bag. Sometimes, not always, we’re allowed to see what’s in the bag. Still, we cannot carry the bag. So, the next time you just don’t get it, or simply cannot understand the why or how of someone’s behaviour, or are so frustrated … remember your own baggage and how heavy that can get after awhile.

The world is a tough place, be kind.

Oh, the memories …

It’s Friday. It’s nearly vacation. It’s going to be a beautiful day. I want to stay with positive. So, I’m just going to put this Facebook “memory” from one year ago here and let it simmer. I wrote it and I meant it and, unfortunately, it still holds true. Worth the battle??? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Here is the article that produced the reaction:  Wie niet integreert … (van deMorgen)

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Integratie als evenwichtsoefening (interview in de toekomstmakers by M.Vanhee)

De Toekomstmakers

Ze is afkomstig uit Pennsylvania maar reisde als trailing spouse haar Belgische man achterna naar zijn moederland. Na passages in Frankrijk en Engeland is Kristin Keller ondertussen een hele tijd gesetteld in Kortrijk. Tot eind vorig jaar was ze coördinato van het Intercultureel Centrum Leiaarde. Daarnaast richtte ze vanuit een vrijwillig engagement ‘OpenDeur – Kortrijk‘ op, een  groep voor en door nieuwe Kortrijkzanen.”Alles wat we doen vertrekt bij de deelnemers”, zo begint Kristin. “Er zijn momenteel drie deelwerkingen: het ‘Taalcafé’, ‘Thuis in Kortrijk’ en ‘Papier Hier’. Elk van deze drie activiteiten wil de rol van anderstalige nieuwkomers versterken via participatie. Die rol wordt anders ingevuld dan vaak gebeurt via de meer traditionele programma’s die worden aangeboden aan nieuwkomers.”

Hoe ben je gestart?

Ik ben gestart met OpenDeur – Kortrijk omdat ik geloof dat ieder individu iets kan bijdragen en ervaringen te delen heeft. Ik heb de wat ongewone…

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