How did I end up here?
How did I end up at this event in Brussels on entrepreneurship & diversity? It's a bit of a story, and I feel like sharing it all today instead of writing an empty, superficial paragraph.
So here it is :-)
Three years ago, I had the idea to write a book about inspiring people from Belgium. In the years prior to that moment, I've always been intoxicated with what was outside of the country: people who look different, food I've never had before, customs I had never seen before, food (again), different worldviews, etc.
When I was 6 years old, I would climb up a tree in our garden to then climb up the roof of our garden tool shed, and I remember dreaming about one day taking a backpack and just leave, and discovering what was outside of my town.
I did make it pretty far: I ended up in China for 7 years, and to many more places, but my hunger wasn't satisfied. I decided that I wanted to become an adventurer, a photographer, a documentarist to express how I see the world.
One Sunday, while dreaming and having coffee at my favorite coffee shop in Shanghai (Café Chez W.), a thought came into my mind:
"What am I looking for out there and why can't I bring the same passion and effort to my community back home?"
Frankly, I thought Belgium was boring. But that excuse wasn't good enough, so I prepared some questions and started interviewing people from Belgium that I find inspirational, people who look different, food I've never had before, customs I had never seen before, food (again), different worldviews, etc.
Now as I am in Belgium again, I challenge myself to meet and photograph one such person every week. I collect our conversations, take their portraits, and will bind them into a book by the end of this year.
The book will be called BELG(E), because you can read it both in french and dutch. It's simple, it's full of wisdom, and I receive every time another reason why Belgium is NOT boring...
This week I will be heading back to Brussels to meet Sandrine (who is in most of these pictures below). I passed by her store on my way back to my car one day and saw she was selling foods I'd never tried before...
Upon entering, she greets me and after 5 min she asks if she can help me with some spices. She starts showing me her diverse range of peppers and spices from Central Africa, and her energy when it came to explaining all of it was intoxicating in the best way.
Driving back, I am high on creativity, purpose, and connection.
"Woah, how cool is this woman? She needs to be in my book."
The next week, I enter her shop again and start telling her how I want to photograph her and her products, and the book and we ended up talking for over two hours. During this time, she invites me to join this event, the following week at the UK Embassy on Entrepreneurship & Diversity. Which is the event you see here in the pictures.
It was incredible to share the space with amazing entrepreneurs between the UK and Belgium to discuss big topics such as racism, sexism, diversity (or lack thereof), and so much more. I felt fortunate to listen and learn from these conversations, and I hope to be part of many more in the future.
So this is the full story behind these pictures. It really is incredible how many roads open up for you, when you approach whatever you do with joy and enthusiasm, and allow yourself to connect with people who look different, try foods you’ve never had before, learn customs you’ve never experienced before, taste different food (again), and listen to different worldviews, etc.
Thank you for the invitation Sandrine!