Jenneken in Rome
Jenneken in Rome

Jenneken Aarssen

Meet Jenneken, Project Manager for Tandem Fryslân.

When I was four years old I wanted to save the world by collecting signatures to protect the destruction of the rainforest. It didn’t take long before I realised that my signatures would not be enough to save the rainforest, nor the world, so I gave up. I focused on other things, on creating things and trying to make my immediate surroundings a bit better, a bit nicer to live in.

I went to Theatre School to become a Drama Teacher and for some years I worked with kids, youngsters and students. I taught them to play, direct performances, and together we ‘created our own world through fantasies’. I started working as a producer at Kunstbende – an art competition for young creators – and over there I could see what youngsters created by themselves, how they reflected on the world and our societies. They were young (13-18 years) and they wrote poetry or songs, they performed, danced and created art about topics that were important to them. And by helping them showcasing their art I could see how it helped them to digest those topics, which were about the world around them.

I still worked at Kunstbende when I learned about Tandem. I joined Tandem Turkey I in 2011-2012 and worked together with a Turkish partner. We exchanged knowledge and experiences, I learned about methods of collaborating and opened up to another culture. It changed my way of looking at the world, I felt more engaged than before. At the same time, I became part of the Tandem Family, a network of creative initiatives and organisations spread around Europe.

Working for Tandem is the best thing happening to me in a time where we face current challenges in our societies. It becomes more and more important to collaborate and to create intercultural understanding. To be part of the Tandem team and to support cultural initiatives to experiment with new social designs and strategies makes me feel like I can contribute – like a tiny cogwheel in a Tandem bicycle.

Jenneken