“Tunisia is not an easy place to live if you look like me. I wear my dreads with pride but it is not something that is considered normal here. Even my dad, who has always been very supportive of me, offered to pay for my tuition if I would shave off my dreads. It would be really easy for me to get rid of it and just be ’‘normal” but I wont. Many people here in Tunisia have forgotten about theirroots. In fact, many of the problems we face today have to do with our lack of identity. We speak French but we are not French. We speak Arabic but we are not Arabs. Before the French and before the Arabs we were Amazigh, the original inhabitants of North Africa. Many of us would wear our hair exactly the way I do today. It makes me sad that not only have we forgotten where we come from but we even developed prejudice against it. That is why I will keep wearing my dreads with pride even if that means facing negativity on a daily basis. My dreads represent much more than my looks, It is my way of honoring my roots’’
(Tunis, Tunisia)

“When I told my mom I wanted to quit my studies she wasn’t mad or disappointed. I explained her that I needed more freedom in order to grow and she understood. I created a plan, I wrote everything down and she promised to financially support me for a whole year. I promised her that I would be able to stand on my own feet after that. That year I was able to experiment and try out new things. I started writing, presenting and making short films. Soon I discovered that I love sharing stories and film became my favorite medium to do so. That year led me to become a freelance filmmaker. My office is here right around the corner and I come here to this little spot a few times a day. To me this is the most beautiful place in Amsterdam. Whenever I am editing and I need a little break I sit here to think. I try to remind myself on daily basics what I am thankful for. It is so easy to lose yourself in the every day chaos. I personally am most thankful for the freedom that I have. That I can come and sit here whenever I want to. In a way that freedom is a present given by my mother because she always believed that I was able to make the right decisions for myself.”

3/3 “Following that incident, Americans were adopting children from the orphanage. Almost everyone got chosen but no one adopted me. In total, I got rejected twelve times. My best friend, number 26, and I had the same name. So when her adoptive mother got a phone call from the orphanage asking which Mabinty she wanted to adopt, she said that she would adopt both of us. My adoptive mother had previously adopted 3 sons, which she lost to HIV/AIDS. One of her sons who passed away, left her a note which stated; ‘’Please adopt a child from West Africa.’’ That is why she decided to adopt us. I was named Michaela DePrince and my friend, who is now my sister, became Mia DePrince. The very first thing I did when I met my mother, was to show her the magazine cover of the ballerina. We didn’t speak the same language but she immediately understood what I was trying to say. She said, “I promise you that when we get to America, you will dance.” America was completely different from Sierra Leone and I have never seen so much food in my life! I didn’t understand the concept of paying for food. So whenever we would go to the supermarket, I would just eat the grapes from the fruit section. We were living in New Jersey and life was really good. I was taking ballet classes but I was still very nervous about my vitiligo. As my mother promised, I started dancing ballet and I would practise every day. I had one goal and that was the become a prima ballerina. My vitiligo wasn’t a problem but I was discouraged to dance ballet because I am black. When I was 8 years old, one of my ballet teachers told me that they weren’t putting much effort into the black ballerinas because she said they end up getting fat anyways. I knew it would be really hard to reach my goal to become a ballerina but I was not planning on giving up on my dream. At seventeen, I started performing at the dance theatre of Harlem and at 18, I got hired at the National Ballet Company here in Amsterdam. A few years ago I got to dance in Beyonce’s music video ‘’Freedom’’. If it wasn’t for my adoptive mom and sister, I am not sure I would have survived. I have been angry for a long time but I have decided to leave the past behind. Of course, it makes me who I am today but also I want to look forward to a bright future. I am not afraid of obstacles because I know that I am strong enough to survive anything.“

“As a child I grew up reading books like Robinson Crusoe and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I always felt a strong desire to live like an explorer. After high school I worked a 9 to 5 job. Months passed by and slowly I felt my dreams drifting away from me. One day I decided to change my life for good. I packed my stuff and left everything behind to be an adventurer. I only carry a sleeping bag and some clothing in my backpack and I go wherever the wind takes me. ”

“I have been studying history for the past 40 years.”
“What is the biggest misconception people have about history?”
“The fact that history repeats itself. Before the industrial revolution it probably did, but ever since then changes within society are taking place so fast. It became impossible to predict the future. Before a father could advice his son about the future because he knew what was coming for him. Nowadays a father will not know what kind of world his son will be living in.”
“Would you say we can learn from history”
“We could but the art is to recognize certain patterns in history. Many people think something like for example the holocaust will never happen again but I believe they are wrong. Such disasters could always happen again, just in a different form.”