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Aernoud bourdrez / Lawyer

"Cut the blame, embrace the pain."

The question “What is a conflict?” has kept lawyer Aernoud Bourdrez busy for a decade. The catalyst for his engagement with this question is as unexpected as the fact that his first interest was art, and that he turned to practising law only after being turned down for a place at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. 

Do you remember the first significant conflict you mediated? Yes, I was 17 years old and the conflict was between my mum and my grandmum. They often had major disagreements over my father. It was the typical mother-in-law and son-in-law dynamic, but I was of course too emotionally involved to see the pattern or make much of a difference.

What were your parents like, and how did they shape you? My parents are both 81 now, so they lived through the Second World War and were shaped by the experience. You still see evidence of this in what they’re like today, in their frugality with food, for instance – they save their leftovers. They had four kids to look after, so they gave their attention to their family rather than to the outside world. They were honest and kind, without pretentions, frills or fuss, and they gave us all the space we needed to be ourselves. I never felt any weight of expectations, which was liberating.

What’s your most significant memory from your childhood? The winter of ‘78! Skating all day in the street in front of the house. I’ve always loved skating. We didn’t own a TV back then, but my parents always rented one during the Elfstedentocht (the 120-mile, eleven-city cities tour held in the province of Friesland when natural ice allows), which suggested to me that it was a really important event. I skated the tour myself in 1997, one week after the official tour, and my parents couldn’t have been more proud. 


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This is lovely and what a great way to build a community. I wish I could participate. I am in the USA. Good luck to all of you.
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