About me

Bangkok

Lunteren - station

New York - UN Headquarters

Leiden - City hall

Utrecht - Academy Building

Lhee bij Dwingeloo

In 1952 in Bangkok, Thailand, my birth was an 'international start' of an 'international life'. My parents, both from The Netherlands, met and married in Indonesia and moved to Thailand in 1950. There I was delivered by a Danish doctor assisted by a Korean nurse in a British hospital. When just two years later we moved to The Netherlands, I did speak some words of Thai, but I did not have memories of my own of the Bangkok-period.

 

The question "Where are you from?" is for me always difficult to answer. The largest part of my childhood I lived in a rural area, the Veluwe, in the Province of Gelderland, both a pleasant environment (the farm on the other side of the street, the woods, the open air swimming pool) as well as a heavy one from time to time (the rather conservative Christian primary and secondary schools). In the wider world the sixties were celebrated by young people, in Lunteren that wider world seemed far away.

 

At Leyden University I studied Law, but with a profound international focus, concentrating on Public International Law, International Organisations, and International Relations. But my 'Bildung' took place in the "Wereldwinkel": a not-for-profit shop of Third World products. When in 1976 I was selected to be the youth representative in the Dutch delegation to the UN General Assembly, I stayed in New York for more than three months; it changed me completely.

 

I worked in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, but I always maintained the international aspect: International Youth Work, Oxfam-Novib, United Nations Association, International Secretary for a Dutch political party. And I ended up at Utrecht University School of Law, where I am responsible for international cooperation, exchange and projects. Travelling is without a doubt part of the fun of international work, but it is more than that.

 

I believe strongly in notions as 'cultural diversity', 'open-mindedness', 'international cooperation', the rule of law in and between nations. And I am strongly opposed to their opposites: 'nationalism', 'narrow-mindedness', 'international confrontation', and the dominance of power in relations between people(s).

And I believe - maybe against the tide - in notions as 'harmony' and 'respectfulness', and in such a thing as 'beauty', both in nature (our small garden, the larger landscapes) and in culture (music, poetry, dance; arts in general).

 

There has been a time in my life that I needed to find out who I was in essence. Instruments like 'Tai Chi', 'Avatar', 'Rebalancing' and 'Tantra' have been important factors in that search. The result is not perfection (not even close), but it is consciousness.

 

Today I am dividing my time between living on the farm in the Dutch province of Drenthe, getting involved in the society surrounding me through my activities for Progressief Westerveld and GroenLinks Drenthe, and maintaining my connection to the wider world.

A couple of years I was member of the GroenLinks delegation to the European Green Party and chair of the Workinggroup on International Cooperation. As a board member and treasurer of the Netherlands United Nations Association I was involved in UN75.

In GroenLinks Drenthe I was the general secretary and treasurer, contactperson for the representatives in the Provincial Council and campaign-leader, so I got to know the Province of Drenthe more widely. In Progressief Westerveld I have been chair of the board, but I did get more and more interested in the local political issues. In 2018 I have been elected member of the Municipal Council.

 

And finally I have the enormous luxury to inhale a lot of 'fine arts', visiting musea (with a weakness for the smaller ones) and performances (dance, classical music, plays). I have become involved in the Foundation Kolonieconcer-ten (chambermusic in the small 'kolonie-church' in Wilhelminaoord).

 

So this is who I am.

Michiel van de Kasteelen