Mr Van: An Interview

Last month, Conroy Tan, Seline Kawpeng, and Preston Doll from the Winston team interviewed our new Head of School, Mr. Van der Linde. In the interview, Mr. Van shared his impression of the Philippines, his vision for BSM, and some bits of information about himself!       

  • What were your first impressions of the Philippines?


Mr. Van: I come from Zambia and I’ve lived there for 8 years. It is located in the middle of the southern portion of Africa – north of Zimbabwe, south of the Congo, west of Malawi and Mozambique, and east of Angola. My first impression coming from Zambia to the Philippines was how busy and bustling and crazy everything was when I got here. Of course, I’ve gotten used to it now, but I’ve also realized how warm and friendly the Filipino people are.


  • What were your first impressions of BSM and what did you like the most about it?


The first impression I got of BSM was when I met Mr. Mann and Mr. Hardy in Hong Kong in March of 2018, when this job was coming up. So my first impression of BSM came from their presentation at an intercultural learning conference where they talked about global citizenship here at BSM. After the talk, I got to meet them, and they were so passionate about the school and positive about what it was doing. These were my first impressions of BSM: passion and positivity. Then when I came for the interview, I got a great sense of community, belonging, and teamwork, and that has been what I loved about this school from the first minute I’ve arrived here.


  • What are your plans for BSM in your tenure as Head of School?


I’ve committed to not rush into anything. There have been many changes around teaching methods and approaches, new buildings coming up, and the growth of our sporting and arts programmes. This year is a consolidation year for the school, for the new practices around concept-based learning, well-being, and global citizenship. It is also the year for me to learn; there are already things that I’ve started looking at and would like to make some tweaks to, but for now, it’s a matter of learning how things work and identifying opportunities to improve, rather than radical change.



  • What go
    als do you hope to achieve by the end of your tenure?


BSM is currently one of the best schools in the region, and I would like BSM to be known as the best school in Southeast Asia or the world. The question is: how do you measure that? It isn’t about grades or performance on the sports field. I think the best school is one that is never out of the hearts and minds of its students, parents, and alumni; it is a school that is known for what it does and for the incredibly high level of its practice. So, in short, my goal is to bring BSM to the forefront of people’s minds, experiences, and expectations, and be known as the best international school in Southeast Asia and the world.



  • What is your favourite sports team?


Certainly, my favourite sport to watch would be Rugby, so the Springboks would be my favourite rugby team, followed closely by Ireland. I also enjoy cycling, and, up until recently, my favourite team was the former Sky cycling team (currently known as Team INEOS), but that has all changed now. I also have a favourite English football team, just because everyone does, and that team is Arsenal. I actually got to see them play in 1979; that was when the world was still black and white and you won’t remember that!


  • What is your favourite past time?


I love engaging with people and meeting and learning from them, so my favourite past time is probably my job because that’s what I do all day. In fact, my wife will tell you that I talk too much. But I also like reading and watching television and sports. After all, who doesn’t like television? I like to play sports as well. On Saturday mornings I’ve been going down to the driving range to play golf. I stopping playing golf for two years because I broke my collarbone. So I’m hoping that because my collarbone is fixed and it now has a steel plate in it, my golf skills will improve. I also did a lot of angling in the Zambezi and Kafue rivers in Zambia. One thing I enjoy most about fishing and golf is the peace and silence when you’re in that moment; you’re all alone and you can’t think of anything else that may distract you.


  • Do you have a favourite book, movie, or TV show?


There are so many! My favourite movie is probably A River Runs Through It. It’s about a father and his family back in the olden days; they lived in the mountains and were very fond of salmon fishing. I was captivated by all the drama around their lives. I also enjoy all of the James Bond and Harry Potter movies. Favourite books? I really enjoyed Spud by John van de Ruit. It is composed of three books about this kid called Spud and all his adventures at school. David Copperfield and Great Expectations are also favourites of mine. I also love The Pillars of the Earth; the opening line of this book is “The small boys came early to the hanging.” How’s that for an opening line? You know something is going to happen soon! It’s about the building of a cathedral in Europe back in medieval times. What about TV shows? Catch-22 and Seinfield are the two TV series that I absolutely love.



  • What is your go-to outfit on the weekends?


On the weekends I try to be casual. Certainly, with the weather here, shorts are important. But with all the rain recently, I would suggest avoiding flip-flops because you don’t want the dirty water on your feet, they’ll go all rotten! I always wear long sleeves because the sun just hurts me, so even when I’m in shorts, I’m still wearing long sleeves.



  • Have you tried Filipino food? What is your favourite?


Yes! I’ve tried halo-halo. At first, I didn’t think I’d like it, but when we went to Tagaytay I was amazed because you can put whatever you want in it. That was so cool! You can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in the same bowl and call it dessert. It’s the most amazing invention!


To conclude, we would like to extend our gratitude to Mr. Van for taking some time to participate in this interview. We look forward to the beginning to yet another era of success in BSM!


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