Photo for Bono Siebelink

Bono Siebelink

BA in Humanities, the Arts, and Social Thought (2019)

Where are you from and which program are you enrolled in at Bard College Berlin?

I am from the Netherlands, but lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina for two years. I'm enrolled in the Humanities, the Arts and Social Thought program, graduating in 2019.

What drew you to Bard College Berlin and why did you ultimately decide to enroll as a student?

At the time of applying to colleges, I found myself repeatedly getting interested in new fields of knowledge. I felt uncomfortable completely devoting myself to one subject, as I wasn't sure whether I would be able to keep my interest or whether it would simply be something for me. Liberal arts was therefore a perfect choice, but my main decision was based upon the fact that BCB offered something more than just a BA in social sciences or humanities; here I would be able to combine an even wider range of subjects including art and literature, which would develop my personality and intellectual capacities even more. Besides this, I have always valued my studying environment, and I knew Berlin would perfectly fit my desire of being able to melt within a mass of people and being overwhelmed by the great amount of activities offered.

What do you like about campus life at Bard College Berlin?

Living on campus allowed me to feel comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. I think I was ready to be a total newcomer in Berlin, not knowing my way around and not feeling completely included in the life in Berlin. The great advantage of the campus was that I knew that there, I had my little network, knowing almost everyone on a very personal level and feeling like a crucial piece of a whole, of a community. From this home base, I had the opportunity to look for challenges and explore. It is good to know that at the end of the day, you can come back to a completely familiar place where you know what is going on.

What do you enjoy about living in Berlin?

Berlin just keeps revealing more and more to me. Living on campus in the first year, I discovered new places, familiarized with certain areas and customs, all the while thinking that I 'understand' what it is like to live in Berlin. However, this understanding updated itself every once a while, and after I moved into the city, I realized the difficulty of determining a 'Berlin lifestyle.' Seeing more and more sights, grasping the big diversity of people in this city and exploring the cultural opportunities, made me feel like I was developing, shaping my personality. Especially because big cities also show negative aspects, that make you feel uncomfortable and alienated. But going through that rollercoaster made me more comfortable with myself and my decisions.

Write briefly about a text you've read for one of your courses that's left a lasting impression on you.

Last semester I got to read Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks, about racism and discrimination, finding its ground in the colonial past, while taking a rather psycho-analytical approach to it. I read this around the Spring Break, for my 'Recognition' class, which was basically a philosophy class on the way we recognize the other and ourselves. When we suddenly got assigned this book, I was a little bit confused, as before we had covered the known philosophers talking very abstractly about recognition. Reading this book, we suddenly got a connection to psychology and sociology. I took a class about social justice at the same time, and this book perfectly corresponded with many things we had talked about in that class. So the impression it left on me was all about the connections I could draw from this book; I could connect it to other classes and apply it on a daily base. The interdisciplinary aspect to it made this book give me a complete different view upon cases, it truly targeted my character, and made me see the world through a different lens.

How do you think the education you receive at Bard College Berlin will help you in the future? What does a liberal arts education mean to you?

A lot of people around me do express a certain concern about social sciences and liberal arts: 'So what will you become Bono, will you get a job later?' Honestly, I don't know. 'Becoming something' sounds a bit weird to me, because that is not the reason why I study. For me, studying liberal arts at BCB is about studying something I am truly interested in, being surprised every time I go to class, being continuously challenged. The education here goes beyond a sole academic point; being educated in many different fields of knowledge, having a voice in class, discussing music, films or political views outside class, the intimacy with everyone you study with, it all contributes to my personality. What I hope to 'become,' is a better person, someone who is aware of himself, and of the world around him. I am studying something that changes me, and hands the responsibility of development back to me. I would not want to completely define my path through my education; the education here shows me the opportunities I am handed, and encourages me to work with those myself.