22 years old. Often I hear people say: ‘count your blessings’. Honestly, I think I could go on forever. Looking back at my life, I have more than a thousand things to be grateful for. Up until now, I have had the best life that I can imagine. One of these things that I am extremely grateful for are my friends. Growing up, I’ve always had two groups of friends. One group of friends I met at dance practice. At dance practice, groups are not organized by age but by level. This caused that I was by far the youngest in that group of friends. I was 16 when I met them, the oldest was 26. Now, I am 22 and the oldest is 32. Of course, I thought I was very cool because I had older friends. They have life-experience, they know how to deal with things. However, even though my friends were older, on some levels I could not connect with them the way I connected with my other group of friends, girls I met at high school who were my age. I always thought that was just because I had not known them for an equal amount of time. I had known my high school friends for a longer period of time so therefore our connection was stronger, I thought. It was not until two weeks ago that I realized the real reason why.


Two weeks ago, it was the first time in I think years that we were all physically together. I had been in Finland for half a year, one of my friends had moved to Los Angeles that year before but now, we were all in the Netherlands and together having dinner. Our group counts eight girls including myself. Of course, with a group of eight girls who haven’t seen each other in so long, the ‘how are you round’ starts organically and lasts the whole night. I told the girls about my thesis and graduating and also recommended them to watch a documentary that I saw the week before. One of the employees at Studio Lauda and my father-in-law recommended me this documentary called ‘Planet of the Humans’. I watched the documentary and when it ended, I felt so stupid. The conclusion of the documentary was that ‘green energy’ is not ‘green energy’ at all. A lot of the times, grids that claim to run on 100% green energy are actually partially running on the electrical grid that you and I are also connected to. What I found shocking was that the documentary mentioned that humanity thinks that ‘green energy’ is going to save them when we run out of fossil fuels. The documentary showed that ‘green energy’ is just a very, very tiny alternative and does not have the capacity to replace burning fossil fuels because we are not able to store ‘green energy’ yet. This knowledge got me flabbergasted, I was in shock: ‘how is this possible?’. I thought ‘green energy’ was the future. Well now, I guess not.


Back to my friends. Talking about the documentary, I noticed that I was really high in my emotion telling them: ‘you should definitely watch it, it’s crazy!’ When they asked what it was about, I shared what I had found out, because it felt like finding out. My friends were also really surprised. I got response after response and question after question. I think for an hour, we had a discussion around energy, green energy, the future and our world. And that’s when I realized. These girls are equally concerned about and interested in our world, future, history, society and so on, as I am. Looking back, with this group I always had, I would say, intellectual discussions. For example, we were the age that suffered – because yes it was – when the age to buy alcohol went up from 16 to 18, right when we are all about to turn 16. But even at that age, we were able to see it from all perspectives and have a discussion about this that went beyond ‘I hate the government and we are angry’. Even though it did not stop us from buying alcohol, we had our own strong views on why we agreed or disagreed with the change.


What I really value from these discussions is that I get new insights and new perspectives. We all have very strong personalities and opinions that we are not afraid to share. One of my friends mentioned that she had seen a programme on NPO called ‘Bodem in Zicht’ that focused on mining. This mining strongly deteriorates the quality of the earth and violates human rights during the process. She mentioned that the program was about the mineral Micah. I never heard of Micah but she was able to tell me that Micah is a mineral that is present in almost all of our products. It gives the shimmer to highlighter, paint, eyeshadow and is also present in mobile phones, laptops and cars. She told me that the host travelled to Madagascar to see how the mining process goes, she was shocked. First thing I did when I got home was check my highlighter, and yes there it was: Micah.


I was intrigued by her story. I was working on an assignment for my internship at Studio Lauda for their client, Buddha to Buddha. Buddha to Buddha is a Dutch jewellery brand that produces silver bracelets, rings, earrings and necklaces. During one of the conversations I had with their marketing manager, Jessica, she mentioned that Buddha to Buddha stands for connections. Connections with yourself, connections with others and connections with the earth. I asked her: ‘how are you connecting with the world then?’. She had no clue. I started an assignment to research how Buddha to Buddha can give meaning to make that true connection to the earth and ended up with finding out that the process of mining silver is extremely harmful for the people that execute it, as well as for the earth. I tried to come up with ways and proposals where Buddha to Buddha could fully implement to only use recycled silver so that they do not extract unnecessary minerals from the earth as a first step. To extend my research, I watched the program about Micah my friend told me about. NPO’s Bodem in Zicht shows how the mining process goes and what it does to the earth and I think that it is really powerful to show the public what it does. By watching Bodem in Zicht, I realised that if Buddha to Buddha wants to truly engage in making a connection with the earth, they would have to do anything in their power to not harm that earth in the first place. Currently, I am still working on this project to help Buddha to Buddha in the future.

What I realized about my friends is that we are all very engaged. With each other, within our own field of interest, with our society and with our world as a whole. Of course, we are all still students on a journey to become young professionals but every single one of my friends is able to provide me with knowledge that I am not aware of and I find extremely interesting. Whether this is about human psychology, the environment, art, history, marketing and branding, entertainment or social work. I guess I found out one more thing that I can be extremely grateful for: my friends enable me, and I enable them, to learn.


NPO. (2020, March 19). Bodem in zicht: Mica [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.npo3.nl/bodem-in-zicht/VPWON_1309235

Planet of the Humans by Michael Moore just got deleted from YouTube because it violated copyrights. (NO APA SOURCE)