Getting uncomfortable: a brainstorm on altruism, privilege and biases

‘Honestly, I just thought it was a cool project when I read the article. Not for a moment did I recognize the frame of white saviours,’ says Silke, a master’s student. Her comment opens our brainstorm. Silke is responding to this article by DELTA about three students who followed the Minor International Entrepreneurship & Development (IED) and went to Ecuador to work with a local public school on a game about climate change. The project was a success. However, the internet took issue with this initiative and accused the three students of neo-colonialism, based on how they were portrayed. ‘It’s really hard to constantly be aware of your own biases,’ Silke adds.

Silke is one of the students who joined our brainstorm, which was held in preparation for the upcoming programme ‘Doing good | Here to save the day?’ that SG will present at the Delft Fringe Festival. At the event on June 2, we will dive into the biases and blind spots that stem from our personal privilege and how they can hinder your efforts to do good through a thought-provoking theatre performance and an interactive dialogue.

Asked what they would need to become aware of their biases, several students respond: ‘How can we become more sensitive and critically address our biases?’ Master’s student Puck adds: ‘What are the right questions to ask?’ Developmental sociologist Yvonne van der Pol listens and writes down the input. The students’ questions and doubts will inspire the interactive dialogue led by Yvonne on June 2.

For theatre maker Omid Kheirabadi, it is all about drawing on his own experiences to expose and question those privileges. ‘I recently joined Extinction Rebellion, but protesting for me is not the same as it is for other activists from the Netherlands. I’m from Iran and I cannot afford to get arrested. So I lay low.’ Omid incorporated his experiences and questions into the theatre performance Alive & Unborn, which will be performed twice on the night. It will run both before and after the programme put on by SG.

If you do join us, prepare to ask yourself some tough questions. For example, what is your true reason for involvement in projects abroad? It might enhance career prospects, it could be a valuable personal experience, or it could make you feel good about yourself. In other words: are you doing good for you? ‘It is uncomfortable to ask these kinds of questions,’ IED-student Nelene admits. But perhaps that’s the only way to start this conversation.

SG x Fringe | Doing good: Here to save the day?
Join us June 2 at Royal Delft!
Omid’s performance is at 20:00 AND 22:00, so you can pick a time that suits you.
SG’s in-depth exploration on altruism and recognizing our own privilege and biases when ‘doing good’ is at 20:45.
A combination ticket for both costs €7,50.
Reserve your spot here.

Do you want to fully immerse yourself in the ethics of doing good? Visit Prometheus’ Problems | Doing good: Check your charity earlier today at the TU Delft Library.