Giving a voice to the new generation

IBA student Tishana Martijn has seen her fellow students struggle with sharing their opinions and instigating change during her first year at RSM. It’s a problem she has seen before; it made her join Rotterdam’s Youth Council, Young010 to create structural change when she was still in high school. Her focus was, and still is, to create equal opportunities for students, and to offer them a platform for their voices to be heard by fellow students and by government so that the changes they want can happen.

What is it about your effort that makes a positive change?
“In high school I often saw students struggling, some with learning and some with social contexts. They would usually approach teachers or adults for help but seldom got results. Most students are not politically involved. Some don’t know that they could be, and others think they don’t have the expertise or are old enough to contribute something useful. When I realised this, I decided to do something to change it. I want their voices to be heard and for them to know they can speak up, no matter how young they are or whether or not their idea could lead to something. I got a letter about Young010 and decided it was something I wanted to spend time doing, so I joined.”

"I’m also aware that it’s not about making big changes or solving problems on your own. I believe small changes can take us places too."

Why do you do it?
“I’m the kind of person that wants to take something positive out of everything. Joining the youth council is one of the places from which positive things can come.

It also helps that I’m very aware of what I have. I’m originally from Curaçao which has a very different culture to the Netherlands, and I am aware of the opportunities I now have and I’m really grateful for them. Every time I’m given something is a reminder that I was blessed to have this, and some people out there don’t have it. I think it’s just a part of who I am. It really brings me joy to help others.

I’m also aware that it’s not about making big changes or solving problems on your own. I believe small changes can take us places too.

Specifically, I really enjoy speaking with policymakers in Young010. You really learn the value of networking and that there’s more to the municipality than what you see from the outside.

In the back of my mind I also think of what my mother always says: ‘you have to try something before you can say you absolutely don’t want to do it.’”

How do you think studying business can help and what might fellow students be able to do?
“Right now I’m trying my best to do what I can do.

“I chose to study business because I’m really interested in how companies evolve, how their decision-making affects them. I see business as a social science because everyone believes a different reason for why a company exists.

This past academic year I was involved with a group of students in the SDG Student Ambassador pilot programme, and specifically for SDG1 No Poverty. I did it alongside my studies, I was able to decide how much time I put in and what I wanted the outcome to be. It’s one of the ways that we are encouraged to create local impact.”

Along with fellow SDG Ambassadors, Tishana has organized a series of webinars, most notably one on Period Poverty in the Netherlands. The events were hosted online due to the restrictions of Covid-19 in much of early 2020. Read more about the SDG ambassador programme and student projects here.