Our International Community: Ismène Elbers

Why did you decide to do the CLOCK programme? 

 Well, firstly, I knew nothing about CLOCK. Someone pointed CLOCK out to me. I was struggling. I had no degree or certification suitable for jobs or getting into education to be a teacher. This person said, ‘well, I think, I believe, truly believe that you will fit right into CLOCK’. I was on the CLOCK website and thought, well, this is me! I saw that I could learn all kinds of skills myself. I never went to university or did other higher education or vocational study. I worked for everything myself because I wanted to learn just by doing. I thought, yes, I’ll get certification for things I have done in the past. It has value, it has real value. That was the most important thing.

Following on from that, what do you think CLOCK offers professionals and creative people, like yourself, that maybe other types of training or professional development programmes lack? 

Well, with CLOCK we look back at what I learned. My experience. In other forms of education, they only teach you what they know. So, you only learn about what they think or what they believe you need to work within a creative field. It’s not about what you already know, but about what you don’t know. Most of the time, if you’re training, you say I’ve done that already. That happens with most of the training in the educational system. They teach you something they believe, but it should centre on you.

For example, with CLOCK, it was nice that I could see what I experienced within the field by doing it and see that sometimes it worked or not. When somebody points out what you already do and how much knowledge you have, you are pretty amazed about it.

So, tell us about your work and your creative practice now. What aspects of CLOCK and the CLOCK experience have you taken into your day-to-day work? 

I’m a performing artist, right? I knew already that I wanted to pass on all my knowledge and skills to younger creative people. And at one point, to be honest, I didn’t find it that interesting to be on stage anymore. I preferred to guide the younger people. That was all before COVID, so when everything came to a stop, I was so lucky that I was already developing myself to have more knowledge about my skills.

So, all the projects I had done in my field, I pushed them to a point where I could use them as part of my CLOCK certification. With creative work, it’s not only about the skill of performing, rehearsals, scriptwriting, or getting songs ready. You also need to find gigs and venues. You must do so much research to stay innovative! I had to do all of this. I also communicate with many different people in my work. I do a mentoring project with children in schools where I work with everyone from the children to the Government. It wasn’t until CLOCK that I realised I had all these skills and how valuable they are.

You mentioned learning to value your skills. Did CLOCK help you with that?      

I’m now constantly developing myself more. I suppose just as a car needs to have an MOT. CLOCK gave me that kind of check-in. I believe people need to look back and reflect on what they have done, but not by themself, with somebody who asks them the right kind of reflective questions.

Yes absolutely. One last question. What do you think CLOCK offers for people like yourself and the young people you mentor?

A safe environment that is non-judgmental where you can recognise your skills and realise your value both as a professional and an individual. You gave me this space that I felt comfortable in. I was valued already as I was doing CLOCK. At the time, I didn’t notice, but when we went through the CLOCK gates, this is what happened. And then there was no judgement, no good or wrong or whatever. CLOCK allows you to value yourself, and therefore it opens so many doors for you after that realisation.

Author Liz Appleby


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