Influencer Johan Oldenboom: curious and analytical

Interview October 2021

Could you share with us some information about your family life?
I was born 40 years ago in January. I had a pretty peaceful youth living in a peaceful neighborhood. I attended Triniteit College and Radulphus College at the secondary school level. In Holland, I started my advanced education in Enschede and later went to study in Rotterdam. After earning my Master’s degree in Sociology I worked 5 years in Holland before returning to Curaçao.  

I was formed mostly in Holland I can say, as I went to study in Holland when I was 21 years old. I was already an adult adolescent, that have already had some life experiences living in Curaçao. This is contrary to most of our youth because when they leave for their studies to Holland they are 18 or 19 years old and are less experienced in life. After my first study (4 years), I immediately continued with my second study and graduated when I was 29 years old which was a relatively high age, but I was already working while I was studying. Working for 5 years after graduating from the University of Rotterdam makes me feel grateful and satisfied with the years I spend in Holland and my development during those years in Holland.  

I am married and this helped me to focus on my studies. After we were friends first for some time we married in Curaçao, while we were living in Holland.

Can you tell us more of your family life? How supportive were your parents in letting you become who you are right now?
I was raised by my mother, my aunt, and my grandmother. My mother has been the most important person in my life, but I visited my grandmother and aunt every single day when I was growing up, that combination formed me in my younger years.  

I have two children, one was born in Holland, and the other one here in Curaçao.

The education my mother gave me was different from what is required today to raise my children. My mother on her own dedicated her life to raising me. I was offered the opportunity to practice sports, music, so I could develop myself at school and after school. My social life those days was very important, as I learned what is “discipline” and this helped me in my schoolwork and even when I went to study in Holland. I am very grateful for this education. We now live in an era where we have so much information that is available via a tablet 24/7. This access to information when I grew up was more limited. We had books and what we could access at school. So I am very much aware that we need to talk a lot to our children to raise them in this time and era. Discipline requires an attitude that you invest in yourself. It is about having a vision of where you want to go and stay the course. Curaçao needs this vision and how to get there where different roads can be followed. I am very conscious of how I educate my children. I am very aware of the difference between educating when I grew up and nowadays as the world is these days. It is important to look and what is happening in the world. This tendency to live in Curaçao but also look at what is happening out in the world had made me the person I am today.

Could you share something about your educational background and your experience?|
In Enschede, I studied Legal Social Work & Services which included knowledge on Tax laws, not Social Work, as it focused on translating the social laws for clients who are not aware, ignorant of the social laws comparable with a Legal advisor at a Legal Office. With this study I could have also go and worked as a tax advisor working at a Tax Consultant. After graduating there I went to Rotterdam to study Sociology. I was very interested to find out how our society functions.

My experiences
I worked as a journalist at Radio Wereld Omroep. This just happen to cross my path as someone invited me once to some voice tests and from that first day on I have everything, reading the news, I did editorials, I did interviews, worked and worked in the media park in Hilversum. After some time I started to work, doing some projects, in the Directorate of Security, which is part of the Justice Department in the municipality of Rotterdam. I also worked at the Police Department of Rotterdam as a policy advisor for 2 years. Nowadays I teach at the University of Curaçao at the Faculty of Social Work.

Triple K= Kas, Klas, Kaya

We know you to be involved in research regarding the boy problem in Curaçao. Can you expand a little on that and tell us more about TRIPLE K?
I got involved in this Triple-concept as I was approached by UNESCO here in Curaçao to address this issue. Triple K consists of a theory based on three components that form the educational foundation of youth. I was inspired by the Pedagogical triangle framework that was quoted by a Ph.D. scholar at the University of Rotterdam. These three educational components are Home, School, and the Street (I called it Triple K in Papiamentu this is Kas, Klas i Kaya).

At home the youth are raised by their parents, at school, the youth are educated by teachers and the street (Kaya) is the amount of social time spent with friends and on social media after school. These three pillars need to harmonize and if they are not, then here is where the problems start. I have analyzed this in Curaçao and I have noticed that there are a lot of things the youth are being taught at school that contradict what they see and experience on the Street. At school in our educational system, most teachers are women. At the primary school level, it is about 95 %.  This feminization is very dominant.

In their spare time the youth watch a lot of YouTube, if you watch the urban rap YouTubes it gives you a pretty clear idea of how the relationship between men and women is being portrayed, women have portrayed sex objects in a macho cultural context, where they are depended on men. When they go to school this is contrary to that.

When they go home this is different again. There we mostly have matrifocal families. Women play an important dominant role and in some families, the father figure is even absent.

The youth is being confronted with a mother that is struggling to make ends meet. Men might visit their home and there might be a relationship, they could experience domestic violence, there isn’t always a mother-father family that they experience and see. When is on the street there is a different culture and this confuses this youth. The question is what do we want to achieve in Curaçao? If we want to have more harmonized relationships that this triangle of education needs to be harmonized. Home, School, and the Street need to be in balance. If we would want to have a more harmonized future in our society we can start doing some practical things like, connect with the teachers of our sons and daughters. Check what your children are watching on the internet. You will understand your child better and this will start the harmonization process in the families.

“If we want to solve the boy’s crisis, we need to educate men to take responsibility.”

Johan Oldenboom

We have regular discussions with people that are trying to define the problem and come with solutions regarding the development of boys in our society. How do we need to address this cycle that keeps repeating itself, where boys increasingly underperform in our society and have challenges in their relationships with females?
There are some books in Curaçao describing the boy’s crisis, where boys don’t recognize themselves in certain aspects of the society as the patterns keep repeating themselves as they grow up in an environment where there is no father figure in some of these social layers of the society and their mother have children with different fathers and this has been going on from generation to generation. I am not blaming anyone, but if we want to solve this boy’s crisis we need to educate men to take responsibility, their role is not to beat a woman or to make a woman pregnant and then abandon them. I believe that men should also be more interested in certain professions like teaching jobs, probation officers, social work where the clients are mostly men.

I am aware that the drop-out rate of boys is disproportionately high that, because boys can’t find themselves in the type of education being offered at most educational institutes. This also needs to be addressed. Men need to spend more time at home, instead of spending lots of time on the street with friends drinking beer. Their first responsibility is at home with the family and their children and if they don’t want this stay single, just don’t get children.  This is how I believe we break the patterns.

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now?
From the time I was in Holland, I have been involved in teaching as the school education is a great foundation to help people in the future development. That is why I am, involved here in Curaçao to make young professionals more conscious and aware so that they can stimulate others and become change agents to empower other people to keep on changing their lives. There comes a time when they grow up that there isn’t a mother or schoolteacher that they can lean on for their education. So they need other ways to keep educating themselves. And that is my goal with students and future professionals. That they can become empowered and as independent as possible. And yes I am aware that their all sorts of dependencies. We need to use that dependency to reach our goal it should be a healthy dependency.

“I want to continue to be an advocate of the opinions…”

Johan Oldenboom

What are your plans for the coming years and when do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
My success is not linked to several years and it is not a goal but a success process. I want to continue to be an advocate of the opinions I just expressed. To make people aware of what they are doing and where they are going. I was and still am involved in radio and TV programs in my free time, to educate people and make them conscious of certain issues of the society they are living in. Topics behind the daily news. Like the role of men in our society or the role of politics or churches have in our society. Those kinds of subject matters. That is what I want to continue doing.    

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
Living in Curaçao can be challenging. This is for me so weird. We have so many people that have graduated elsewhere in the exterior and we have contacts to so many people from abroad, for it is an enigma that we are still in great financial distress as a country and the economy has become a mono-economy, Tourism, instead of a diversified economy which has been our goal. That is a pessimistic outlook. What I will do is the following I will try to do my utmost to educate and create awareness in those within my circle of influence and I will myself not fall into a pessimistic loop as some have fallen into it and they don’t want to listen to the mostly bad news.

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
Depending on the situation I combine my intuition with my rational thinking brain, looking for the balance.

How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skills levels
I combine reading articles with watching documentaries and combine this with my life lessons.

What are your strengths?
My analytical abilities to present issues in a compact matter. I am good at, based on some theoretical concepts, translate these issues in a clear way to my audiences.

“I like making news reports to enriched people’s knowledge on current matters.”

Johan Oldenboom

Do you have hobbies that you are also passionate about?
I like working in the garden, I love cooking. I love analyzing situations share these as nuggets in weekly reports on a radio program in Holland by a “Yu di Kòrsou”, as a correspondent. I like making news reports to enriched people’s knowledge on current matters.

If you as Johan would meet a stranger on the bus (let say in New York or Kingston Jamaica) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I would tell them my name and love analyzing what is happening around me.

How would you describe Johan in one word or one sentence?
A curious person.

Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
My mother.

What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
Becoming better and better at getting to the point and being as straight as possible.

What was a defining moment in your life?
The day I decided to go to Holland for my further studies, that was my decision.

Where do you want to be 10 years from now with your career?
Informing people and making them aware and conscious via media and giving my opinion and analyses.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?That I am an exemplary man.

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao as we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, recession, and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consequences?
This island has a lot of resources like the sun, sea, and wind. It’s geographical position and its people. It seems like there are always people to excel and keep on working for the benefit of the island.

One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao

Johan Oldenboom is a teacher at the University of Curaçao, sociologist, analyst, reporter, an exemplary father that is critical about the way our “Boys” are being educated in some segments in our society. Based on a triangle consisting of three pillars:

1. At home (“Kas”);

2. At school (“Klas”) both with a matrifocal bias and

3. On the Street (“Kaya”), which is the amount of social time spent with friends after school, boys are being educated in some social circles in our society with contradictory signals.

This dis-alignment is the cause of a lot “Boys” problems in our society.

He is of the opinion that if we want to solve the Boy’s crisis, we need to educate men to take responsibility, be more interested in certain professions like teaching jobs, probation officers, social work where the clients are mostly men. The type of education being offered at most educational institutes needs to become more boy friendly and men need to spend more time at home.

As a teacher and reporter, he wants to help young professionals to become more conscious and aware so that they can stimulate others and become change agent to empower other people to keep on changing their lives. Empowering youngsters on the one hand and as independent as possible, but on the other hand also create a healthy dependency to create room for constructive collaborations, is what he aims at. For all these reasons, we respect him and consider him one of the top 250 influencers of the islands representing the Educational sector.

Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.

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