On 5 May, The Student Hotel will host another Bedtalks session focused on what freedom means in different national contexts at the Liberation Day Festival in Groningen.
The theme of the 5 May sessions is “Internationals Talk About Freedom: What does freedom mean to you?”, during which a pair of international residents of the city will lead a discussion about the meaning of freedom: organisers are currently seeking speakers and audience members to take part.
The Bedtalks session, which involve featured guests who are literally on a bed for a casual conversation about a range of topics, will be located at the Local Heroes area of the festival in the Stadspark.
The event is part of a wider initiative from Diederik van der Meide, the director of the Groningen Liberation Day Festival, to make sure that internationals voices, from students to professionals, are also represented on 5 May. “In the Netherlands, it has gotten to the point where freedom is such a given that we don’t usually really stop and think about what it means, and we just enjoy a good party”, Van Der Meide says. “But through speaking with internationals who live here, we know that is not the case in other countries. We think it’s really interesting to hear more from them about what freedom means in their home country.”
He says he has seen the spirit and focus of the celebrations change over the years as well. “About 20 years ago, the focus was primarily on the situation abroad, but in recent years, the political situation has changed within the Netherlands and people are really thinking about freedom of expression and the number of people who are refugees, and I think that Dutch people are considering what freedom means both within and outside of the Netherlands.”
An increased awareness of a wider international context in keeping with a broader tendency across the Netherlands: DutchNews reports that a recent national survey found that around 20% of Dutch citizens want to see the 4 and 5 May commemorations to recognise “war dead of all nationalities.”
The Bedtalks are being organised by The Student Hotel, the Liberation Day Festival, the University of Groningen and Here & Now. Bedtalks have been a part of recent editions of the Experience Groningen festival, including the latest one this past March.
Update 10:26 a.m., Wednesday, 1 May: This story has been updated to include comments from Diederik van der Meide.