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Updated: 01/08/2018

Friends and family remember the life of UvA student

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“If I could only chose one word to describe him, it would be altruistic,” said Cristina Moya Altamirano. “It doesn’t matter if it was a small action, […] he always looked for perfection in everything he took charge.”

Moya and Kevin Alejandro Paredes met at the OnCampus introduction week. After noticing his latin physical appearance, she was surprised to learn he, too, was from Ecuador. Since that day, the two became close friends. “Alejandro was a very generous person, responsible, committed to any idea that got into his head, sometimes even in a stubborn way,” Moya admits.

Kevin Alejandro Paredes Yepez was a son, a brother and a friend to many. On Monday July 16, at the age of 24, Paredes lost his life after an unfortunate accident.

Cynthia Sofía Rivera, 22, third-year business and economics student at UvA, remembers with much joy when Paredes told her he would move to Amsterdam to study the same major in 2016. The two students had met in 2014 back in Ecuador. Both attended a course that prepared them to pass the exam to access public universities. Fortunately, they were part of the few who benefit from the SENESCYT scholarship, which is provided by the Ecuadorian government to allow students to study abroad. The Netherlands is the country that receives the less quantity of students from Ecuador.

Paredes dreamed to bring his knowledge to his country to help to its development. “He had great ideals for the development that Latin America needs,” said Rivera. “He had faith in his country, in the Latin American ground that saw him grow,” added Alejandro Martinez, a 19 year-old upcoming PPLE student at UvA who is another beneficiary of the scholarship.

“Alejandro was an exemplary, noble, very giving person, and a dreamer” remembers  Rivera. According to his father, Paredes’ dream was to graduate and go to Ecuador to teach in a University.

***

Paredes stood out as an exceptional leader who believed in the strength of working as a team. He loved music and culture, but had a special interest in Latin-American culture.

While at UvA, Paredes founded the UvA Ecuadorian Society, in which he found long-lasting friendships. In October 2017, he especially made a difference in the Ecuadorian Consulate in The Hague, when he highlighted the opening of the consulate to respond to the needs of students.

For Alejandro Martinez, the association was a place to meet friends from his native country. “I didn’t really interact with [Paredes] until I started going out with the Ecuadorian students from elder generations,” he said.  The last Ecuadorian students who moved to Amsterdam, or the “new generation” as they called them, gathered in front of the J-K building to play ukulele and sing with the “older” generations. Even thought the two were not as close to each other back then, Martinez admits he had never felt as close to him as today. “The legacy that he left behind was what really got me closer to whom Alejandro was,” he said, “[…] he was a dreamer.”

For Cristina Moya Altamirano, Alejo, as she called him, was the kind of person that “one would want to have close to us until we get old.” “He used to say that us Ecuadorians have to stick together, that we have to take care of each other,” she said, “but at the end of the day, it was him who united us under any pretext.”

Kevin Alejandro Paredes was known for his ambition and heart-giving personality. “He had always been very kind, very cheerful” remembers his brother.

“He has left a mark on everyone who knew him,” said Martinez, “even on those, like myself, that got closer to [him later], […] [that got] inspired by the ideals he once had, and now live forever in our hearts.”

***

On July 18, a solemn act was held at Casa Migrante in Van Ostedestraat, and on July 20, a Mass was held at the Sint-Nicolaaskerk in his honour.

As the life insurance only covers the repatriation expenses, Paredes’ friends created a GoFundMe in order to help the financing of his parents’ airfare tickets to go to Amsterdam and bring him back to Ecuador.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Isabel Bonnet is a 21-year-old second-year student in communication science at UvA. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Amsterdammer. Before its creation, she worked as a photo editor at the Independent Florida Alligator and did an internship at Le Monde.

I’m French. Am I a migrant, too ?

My grandparents or great grandparents on my mother’s side did not all stay in Venezuela their entire life. My grandfather had Italian origins and studied in both Spain and Mexico. His adoptive mother spoke several languages and had lived in  the Netherlands, Curaçao and Trinidad before going back to Venezuela. They were citizens of the world in a time when traveling was not as common as it is today. On my father’s side, my grandmother had to travel to different countries in Europe during World War II, and kept traveling later in life, when she raised her children with my grandfather around Africa.

I was born in France, but grew up most of my life in Venezuela. I’ve lived in the US, the Ivory Coast, and now the Netherlands.

I am French because of my father and Venezuelan because of my mother. This is how I see myself: I am neither French nor Venezuelan, I am both.

My sister competed for the Venezuela Equestrian Federation in Venezuela and internationally, but her nationality was never doubted. In a parallel world, if I would have followed a path in any professional sport and decided to compete as French, my nationality would probably not have been doubted either.

And that’s because I’m white.

Both my sister and I fulfilled the stereotypes of the countries we would decide to represent. The only difference between us, and the French players who won the World Cup 2018, is that we are white and they are not. So, now, they are called “migrants.”

Think about it. If Paul Pogba would have decided to play for the Guinean football team, like his brothers, would you have considered him a French migrant? Probably not. Is it because of the colour of his skin, or because you have the power of judging his level or “French-ness” or “Guinean-ness”?

Calling someone a migrant for having an international background is being ignorant towards all the wars and deconolinizations that happened during the last century. It is also being ignorant towards the world you are living in right now: everyone is becoming a citizen of the world. Almost everyone has their roots spread around the globe somehow. We have lived in different places and defined ourselves accordingly.

The players of the French football team have parents or grandparents from African countries, but they have decided to represent France during the FIFA World Cup 2018. They are like me: they are neither “African” nor French. They are both. They are not migrants in France nor, let’s say, migrants in Nigeria or Cameroon. They are both and we should accept this.

Stop calling them migrants or call this an “African victory.” They have decided to represent France. They played as a team, representing France by choice. France won. And France, like every country around the globe, is not made of a single origin. We are from everywhere.

And the players are French, too.

 

 

Isabel Bonnet is a Bachelor student at the University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.

The Amsterdam Museum and What Makes Amsterdam Unique

On June 17, the Amsterdam Museum opened its newest exhibition: “De Mooiste Stad,” or “The Most Beautiful City.” The gallery on a passageway has been turned into an exhibition about the wonders of the Dutch capital city.

“We all have a huge problem: we live in the most beautiful and nicest city in the world,” said the late mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan. The Dutch politician, who passed away in 2017 to lung cancer, was mayor of the city from 2010 until his death. During the last period of his life, van der Laan had been working on an exhibition about the city he loved so dearly. A selection of more than 80 paintings, pictures and objects from the collection of the Amsterdam Museum and the city’s archives portraits how the inhabitants of the city have dealt with as fast population growth throughout the years. Through the exhibition, the late mayor hoped to initiate a conversation on the city’s future. The decoration of the “The Most Beautiful City,” mainly done out of scaffolding, symbolizes that Amsterdam is never completely finished.

Van der Laan’s exhibit shows that living in such a place can indeed be a problem; an increase in residents and tourists is leading to a housing market that is on the verge of collapsing and to streets that are too crowded for anyone’s good. But these aren’t just contemporary problems. In “The Most Beautiful City,” the much-loved mayor demonstrates that issues such as high immigration numbers and tourism have been around for centuries in our country’s capital. For instance, the exposition demonstrates the issues with bad living conditions through the centuries; whole families would live in a damp basement because there was no affordable housing available. In addition, many problems are presented to the audience such as the social housing system intervention, making decent housing possible for even the poorest of the city’s inhabitants. As an eulogy of the city, its progressiveness is represented by remembering the first December 21, 2001, when a law to allow same-sex marriage was signed in the Netherlands for the first time in history. As a result, the exhibition pays homage to administrators of the city who had a great influence on its developments, including Monne de Miranda, Jan Schaefer and Floor Wibaut.

Many locals joined the exhibit. Among them, 63-year-old visitor Marion van der Kleij, who was born and raised in Amsterdam, admits the has suffered from a large crowd over the years. “Here, you can see that all these developments and expansions actually pay off,” she comforts herself. “It changes your perspective, to be more positive.” Like van der Kleij, her friend and fellow citizen of Amsterdam, Paulien van Gijn, 59, believes the exhibition taught her that people have been complaining about problems in the city for centuries. “Even years ago, people would write angry letters about fences that were in their way or expansion of the city,” van Gijn said. The two women admit being fans of former mayor Eberhard van der Laan. Van der Kleij. “The exhibition was quite moving,” van der Kleij adds, “I kept tearing up. I suppose it was a combination of the exhibition and the late mayor.”

The exposition is open to the public from 10am and 5pm every day until November 4. The display is the result of a partnership with the festival “We Make the City” that takes place from June 20 to June 24 across Amsterdam.

Avenue reporter at the Amsterdammer.

21-year-old Dutch girl with a passion for journalism, traveling and getting people to make her food. I’m also a Communication Science student at the University of Amsterdam and a lindy hop dancer -but I’m not that good at it quite yet.