Meetup #12: Always look on the Bright side of life

Bright, the man with the brightest personality ever, was a famous actor in Liberia. He fled the war and arrived in the Netherlands in 1991. He finished the theatre academy in Arnhem and joined several theatre collectives. He also founded New Dutch Connections, to inspire and motivate teenage refugees to believe in themselves again. As an inspirator to young asylum seekers he developed a method with as its goal helping them to participate in society and reach economic independence.

And what an inspiring person he is. From the moment he owns the floor at Kanaal30, the room is in motion. In no-time we are all dancing: ‘In Africa we do everything through dance. If we don’t dance, we won’t reach our goals, so…’. Everyone gets loose, first with a bit of hesitance, but later without any holding back under the motivating guidance of the sparkling Bright.

Wooden shoes

He shares his personal history with us, how during his flight from Liberia saw eye to eye with a rebel and found himself facing down the barrel of an AK47. You can hear a pin drop. Full of energy, he recalls how he arrived in the Netherlands and managed to ‘break the ice’ by walking in wooden shoes. ‘Look, a black guy in wooden shoes!’ It turned out to be the way to making contact with Dutch people. And Bright wouldn’t be Bright, if he didn’t look at his flight from the bright side of life: ‘The big advantage from coming to the Netherlands, is that I was able to choose my own family’.


With a bit of help he manages to get accepted at the theatre academy. When he meets underaged refugees, he is in shock, flabbergasted, about the hopelessness of their situation. He realises he has to do something to help them. Together with companies he offers workshops, connects teenagers with coaches and buddies, and organises unique encounters by producing theatre shows. A good opportunity for corporates to meet the talented refugees. ‘The CEO wants inclusivity; I coach them for soft skills, the company for hard skills’, Bright explains his methodology.

The question

Bright’s question to our audience: ‘I want more companies that tell me: I want to meet them’. Annemiek Temming adds: ‘As soon as Bright enters with ‘The Bright Side of Life’ (see trailer below) people are enthusiastic and things start rolling. It would be great if there was a more efficient and sustainable way for New Dutch Connections to be financed’.

A meetup is a meetup, wherever it takes place. So, four teams start their brainstorm. While enjoying the most delicious bites prepared by one of Bright’s talents Ghufran, a lady with ambitions both in the field of IT and cooking. Food for thought.

After the pitches and the judges’ deliberation the winner was announced: Team Green with their ‘Be Bright as overall branding’ won the grand prize; free tickets to Bright’s theatre show.

The message is clear: let’s Be Bright!

Photos: Mirwais Sahak. Film: Jorrit Bruinsma. Text: Inger Sluimer-Terhorst.

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