Influencer Mike Euphrosina

Interview June 2021

Could you share with us some information of your family life?
My grandmother is from Aruba with an Indian background and my grandfather is from Curaçao with an African background and his grandfather, as I was told, was a slave in Curaçao. Their 4 children, my mother and two of her sisters were raised in Curaçao and the oldest sister was raised in Aruba in my grandmother’s family. I have no sisters nor brothers, I have one son and I have a significant other.

Were you born here in Curaçao?
I was born in Curaçao and I’ve never seen my father, never felt or smelled him. He was a Shell employee originating from the Caribbean island of Grenada and from Creole-French descent.

How supportive was your family in letting you become whom you are right now? 
I lived together with my mother, grandmother and the middle sister of my mother. They taught me that “Nothing for nothing”, doesn’t exist. You have to work hard for your own success, because there won’t be anybody else behind you with a bag of money or success. So be smart, work hard, stay strong and develop your sixth sense. Mind you, I’ve been raised first-hand by 3 emancipated women and 7 other individuals from the inner circle.

My grandmother became blind in one eye and was unable to care for me after school. Both my mother and aunt had to work for their income. They decided to send me to Aruba, to the eldest sister and I stayed for 3 years on Aruba as a child. From my 4th year, I’ve learned to deal with homesickness, loneliness and incomprehension. This horrible period in my life ended at the age of 7, when I returned home, to Curaçao.

My mother was a Shell employee. Every employee had the opportunity to be a member of the social club Asiento. When I returned to Curaçao, the only solution for after school moments, was to get involved in Asiento. So I was introduced in a variety of sports, such as swimming, water polo, football, tennis, bowling, etc. during many years. Sport was the solution for many problems, I realized myself many years later. I learned discipline, developed a fighter’s mentality, self-respect and respect for others, acceptance to win or lose, empathy, social interaction, importance of good health.. etc.

As I grew up in a collective environment with aunts, uncles by marriage, cousins, nieces, neighbours and family friends, I realized later in life, that I was brought up by far more people than in an average family.

In these circumstances I learned to listen carefully to others interpretations of facts, so I learned unconsciously to make my own choices, being the only child.

Are you married and do you have children?
I’m divorced and have a wonderful matured son who’s trying to keep our family name high as he’s till now the last in the row of the Euphrosina’s.
Sometimes people ask me, if I miss the presence of a father. To be honest I don’t, for the simple reason, I don’t know what it means, having one.
But the moment I divorced, I asked my son, he was 13 at that time, to help me to stay a father for him and he allowed me to be a father to him.

Could you share something of your educational background and your experiences?
I visited the Sint Thomas College in Otrobanda, next the SEHOS. I’m a “Otrobandista”. The “fraters” taught us more about the Dutch culture, then about our own island, as you all know. We were already being programmed unconsciously to many norms and values of the Dutch. I was doing well as a student with high grades, so my next step was to attend Radulphus College HAVO. In my third grade my mother decided in 1971 to move to the Netherlands. She had met her future husband and we arrived in Schagen near Den Helder in the northwestern part of the Netherlands. My first year at school was a year full of novelty, new experiences, different climate, people, customs, you name it. My new Surinamese friend, Romeo and me, were the only two afrohair black people in Schagen at that time. You can imagine we were “hot” and “worth seeing”. People wanted to touch our hair and our black skin, as if we were painted. But like many of us, my first year was not successful in school, I had to acclimatize and that’s common for newcomers.

After my HAVO I passed the tough physical and mental test for the Academy for physical education and sports at the University for Applied sciences in Arnhem. That was the best time in my life. I’m really proud for having gone through this education as my backbone and foundation. It gave me the knowledge of all that is known about human beings in anatomical, physical, psychological, pedagogical and philosophical matters. And besides that, nearly all types of sports, as needed for a future teacher and lecturer in sports. Sport as a tool for education, as a vehicle for personal development!

After 4 years living and studying in Arnhem and 8 years in the Netherlands with a lot of knowledge and social- and business experience, I remigrated to Curaçao in 1979 as a teacher in Sports to contribute to the development of my beloved island.

Only when you are abroad, you really experience what it means, to be a real Yu Di Kòrsou (YDK). My first employer was Maria College Mavo and 5 years later MIL. My professional goal was, to create youth awareness for the possibilities in sports to reach personal goals. And you know what…… it worked for a lot of them! How do I know? Because during personal encounters, they told me about their personal development in life.

An example is Sinuhe Oomen. There are many more examples of these (future) leaders, both men and women!

The soul of my personal development due to my sport education is, that I’ve learned to inspire, to coach and to train individuals and groups to rise above themselves. This because they have learned to believe strongly in themselves and in others, as a team. By the way, the word TEAM means Together Each one Achieve More. Once you experience that you can do more than you expected before, a new world with more possibilities will open for you.

During “extra curricular”-activities I had the opportunity to work as trainer/ coach and organizer in different fields of sport with talented youngsters and together with inspirational coaches like Wendell Prince in Athletics, Remy Sillé and Etienne Siliee and others in Triatlon, Egbert Ridderplaat in Swimming, Football Canicius boys with Shon de Wind (RIP), Basketball, Volleyball and Softball teams Maria College and MIL with my colleagues Ineke de Groot en Henry Lopes Ramirez (RIP) etc, etc.

Also to be mentioned is one of the first commercial gyms in Curaçao “Dans la Rue” with my friends and also Masters in Physical Education, Harold Samson”Sampie” (RIP), Rein Persaud and others.

How long have you been a business owner and coach?
In 1990, I migrated back to the Netherlands to study Political Science in Nijmegen. It wasn’t what I expected and I quit after 1,5 years and started looking for a job. My new challenge was working at the Province of Utrecht and the City of Amsterdam as a policy officer for “Sports and Minorities”. My job was to offer subsidized possibilities for sportclubs to become as diverse and inclusive possible in their memberships aimed at integration. I trained and coached them in their attempt. Antilleans, Surinamese, Moroccans, Turkeys and asylum seekers were introduced as new players or new Boardmembers in Dutch sportclubs.

In 1992 at one of my organized “sensibility” projects, I met a specialist in Intercultural Communication. After his workshop, my whole life was turned upside down. I recognized my own background in a nutshell. I told him my experiences with colonialism, prejudism, discrimination, cultural differences, exclusion, etc, etc. and 3 weeks later I joined my new employer “Kontakt der Kontinenten” in Soesterberg.

This 8 year’s journey, took me all over the world. I became a business consultant and specialized in Intercultural Communication & Collaboration, Inclusion & Diversity and Personal Leadership.

In the meantime I joined the Royal Tropical Institute( KIT) as a freelancer for over 18 years. Being a trainer, coach and consultant for both organizations, I had the opportunity to experience all organizational levels, from board to workplace. I’ve worked with multinationals like: Shell, KLM, Tata Steel, ING, RABO, L’Orèal, Volvo Cars, Take away, etc. Dutch Municipalities, Dutch Police Force & BES islands (local and national level), Red Cross, Lector for University of Utrecht and Universities for applied sciences, etc.

Also NGO’s like VluchtelingenWerk, many antillean organizations, housing corporations, KNVB for “Coaches professional Football league” and NOC/NSF “Topcoach in Sports” etc. I participated in conferences of SIETAR (Society of Intercultural Education Training and

Research). In 1997, I was one of the organizers of a SIETAR International Congress with 600 participants from all over the world in Curaçao, “building bridges between countries”, with co-host Freddy Curiël and Aco Henriquez (RIP).

After a burn-out in 1999, I started my own business. On the 1st October 1999, I launched PC&O People Culture & Organization as a business owner and this is what I have been doing since.

We have taken notice that you are a specialist in Intercultural Communication & Collaboration. This in a world that is becoming more and more a global village and both of these themes are essential in people getting along with each. Could you tell us how you ended being specialized and dedicated to it?
That’s true! To give you an example. I’ve been working since 2009 till 2017 on a regular basis in our Kingdom. I’ve been working on different issues related to Intercultural Communication & Collaboration on all the six islands, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Sint Maarten, Statia, Saba and the Netherlands. I experienced a lot of prejudism on both sides, from the Netherlands to the Caribbean and vice versa but also among the Caribbean islands. Every country or island has her own strenghts, but also her own weaknesses. It’s so demotivating, that because of prejudism, we don’t make things profitable for all parties.

We can easily be complementary to each other. One plus one is three, as added value! The Diversity philosophy says that eleven goalkeepers can’t win a match, but eleven different players with eleven different qualities can! This reality inspires me to stay focused and dedicated, because I’m doing the right thing for mankind! But diversity won’t work without Inclusion and Inclusion needs Diversity. As human beings we all want to be respected, accepted and appreciated.

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now and doing what you are doing right now?
When we as human beings admit, that we always point the finger to another, realize that at the same moment your thumb is pointing upward (God or Allah) and three other fingers are pointing at yourself:
1 Who are you,
2 Where are you,
3 What’s your goal.
Only when you are able to answer these 3 questions you have the right, to point not 1 but 5 fingers to someone else.

 “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”

When do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
In my personal life when my precious ones, girlfriend and son, are proud of me for what I meant for them and others. In my business life, when we will experience that there are more and more examples that personal leadership leads to more Inclusion and Diversity for all minorities.

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? 
My fight against polarization, for the acceptance that a multicultural society is not a threat but an enrichment. Life is not black and white, but there are millions shades of gray.

And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
To walk the walk and talk the talk!

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up? How does that work for you?
Of course, see my three fingers method. Ask yourself the three questions and be conscious that you’re not “Don Quichot”. Have a daily “look in the mirror”, in the morning (what’s your goal today) and in the evening (for your feedback).

How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels?
By reading, participation in workshops, (international) conferences, training and coaching of others and myself.

What are your strengths? 
I am a good listener, empathetic, helpful, disciplined, righteous, straight and honest. What you see is what you get!

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
Traveling (more than 44 countries), contemporary Jazz and Lounge music, I play congas, bongos and batá, gardening, sports, Netflix, cooking.

If you as Michael would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Mexico or Columbia) and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer and how would you describe Michael in one sentence?
Hola, me llamo Mike, soy de Curaçao i vivo en Holanda, soy specialista en procesos Interculturales. Soy quien soy i a sus ordenes.

Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
Nelson Mandela, Paulo Coelho, Jane Elliot

What is a trait that is still work in progress?
The polarization of many societies and therefore the exclusion of many minority groups.

What was a defining moment in your life?
When I became father, my visit to Robben Island where Mandela was kept prisoned and the meeting with Padre Pio in Rome.

Where do you want to be 15 years from now with your career?
One year to go for my penshonado status. After becoming a penshonado I hope to continue with my awareness and personal leadership coaching and trainings because it’s a never ending story. Also it’s my personal aim to keep sustaining the future meaning the youth there where it’s possible. And if it’s still a challenge maybe a book for the last call.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
That’s typically Mike.

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçaoas we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, recession and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consequences?
I’m still positive, because throughout all centuries we survived as a small island and still others, rather than ourselves, see the many possibilities we still have. That’s why I’m a very proud YDK.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.”

– Albert Einstein

More info or connect

One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Michael (Mike)Euphrosina is a good listener, empathetic, helpful, disciplined, righteous, straight and honest. His study to become a physical education teacher taught him the value of coaching and training. After some years back in Curaçao as a teacher at the high school levels he returned to Holland and after a brief stint studying political science which was not his thing, he discovered his passion, that is being a diversity and integration consultant, coach and trainer in a world where the main thing seems to be to emphasize the differences between people. He is an advocate of looking first one self and then explore collaboration in spite of diversity, of which he firmly believes that this creates greater value because of the synergy. Since 1999 he has as an entrepreneur and business consultant and specialized in Intercultural Communication & Collaboration, Inclusion & Diversity and Personal Leadership. Because of how he has touched the lives of many during his whole career and his continued efforts to disrupt the polarization that is happening in many societies, given his knowledge and experiences, we expect him to continue to influence lots of people, teaching them how much sense it makes to work on integration, rid themselves of prejudice, while there is so much diversity in the world. Therefore, we dearly love and deeply respect. We consider him part of the 250 Influencers of the island representing the leadership development, coaching and training sector with an emphasis on the integration of diversity.

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