Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I have worked in Brussels elementary education for 17 years and another three at ToekomstATELIERdelAvenir. Education and Brussels are two passions I keep combining together. Today I’m very excited to be the principle of Paviljoen, a new innovative elementary school in Schaerbeek focusing on connection, identity and entrepreneurship. Durability and digital skills form the pedagogic project’s red thread. Our motto is, “It takes a community to raise a child.”
How has Brussels shaped you as an individual as well as your professional activities?
I studied and started teaching in Brussels. I love the city’s cosmopolitan feel, its diversity and colours, smells and flavours. Brussels teaches you how to put things into perspective. You get to know the city, try to understand it and find your own way in it. There’s always something or someone around the corner that will make you question things. I feel like a Brusseleir even though I don’t live here. I will move here though one day. On my professional journey, I found various ways of giving kids and teens future prospects; first at the beautiful Sint-Joost-aan-Zee elementary school, then through the fantastic ToekomstATELIERdelAvenir project. I think both methods can perfectly be combined, and that’s what I’d like to achieve at Paviljoen in Schaerbeek.
List three things you like the most about Brussels.
- Brussels is in constant evolution. Whenever someone starts a new business or project, its neighbourhoods are injected with new meanings and are rediscovered by people. People are often what lies behind change.
- Brusseleirs, meaning anyone who lives here or identifies as a local, have a lot of resilience. Many people look at Brussels in a rather condescending way from the outside. However, its inhabitants don’t remain idle; they take initiative. Look at how many organisations tackle challenges with a bottom-up approach instead of avoiding them.
- Districts like Schaerbeek are really concerned about mobility and security. They’re turning Schaerbeek into a 30km/h zone, which will only encourage people to ride their bike more. Cyclists are getting more and more priority in this area.
List three deciding factors that converted you to bicycle use.
- Cycling is the fastest mode to move around the city and you don’t have to worry about traffic or finding a parking spot.
- It gives you a feeling of freedom, firstly because you get to decide when you leave and come back, but also because you feel like a kind of cowboy when riding through the city and its traffic. Having said that, others have to pay attention to you, which also makes you more vulnerable.
- You experience the city differently, especially when the weather is nice. You hear and see different things. I also like to discover a city on a bike. You ride wherever you like and stop at nice spots whenever you feel like it.
What are your favourite bike routes in Brussels?
I’m not the kind of person who follows routes. I often cycle in Schaerbeek, which is a big district with busy streets and squares, but also nice, quiet and green areas. I simply enjoy both.