My earliest memory of feeling like the odd one out was my first ballet class. As we stood in a line the teacher gave a series of instructions but I kept getting confused. Desperately I would look at her movements to follow. Every time she lifted a leg and we had to copy I would panic – no matter how hard I tried I kept lifting the wrong leg! I could see everyone giggling as the teacher got more irate! After the lesson she told my mother never to bring me back. I remember not being able to explain that I didn’t do this on purpose. There were many things that happened like this, such as not following the margin on the page, drifting far from the point in conversation, regularly getting lost. I was tested for dyslexia when I was 20 in my first year at University. Although I’d already devised some truly ingenious ways of organizing and remembering things, it gave my confidence a huge boost to realise I just have a different way of working and seeing things. At this point I was assigned a tutor to help me with my dyslexia. – Sherrell encouraged my ideas; teaching me how to present them on paper and in person so that I could communicate them effectively. I went on to achieve a 1st and several innovation awards. My dyslexia has proven to be a huge advantage to me working in visual arts rather than a disability. I want to be a Mentor so that I can offer support in choosing another direction, to stand out from the crowd, to encourage different paths to success. Following my own experience, I trust that each confident step a dyslexic child makes is a step towards sharing an array of exciting possibilities and creative potential with the wider world. I hope to inspire children to feel delighted and be rewarded for being the odd one out!
Nienke Van Wijk
Royal College of Art, 2012, Visual communication