In June 2010 Iris Pielage conceived the concept of BuddyGoDutch and founded it together with Malou Remijn after they returned from their Erasmus exchange in Seville (Spain). During both their own exchange in Spain, as well as in Utrecht, they noticed that many international students had a hard time to integrate themselves in the local culture. It turned out to be difficult to make contact with the local students and, in this way, get to know the new culture from the inside out.
To improve this integration, Iris and Malou created a buddy system that links international students with Dutch students to get to know each other’s culture. The idea behind this is that this cultural knowledge will lead to mutual cultural understanding, a broader perspective on the world and more tolerance. The project quickly got support from the University of Utrecht, the Hogeschool and the city council of Utrecht. BuddyGoDutch grew to be a beautiful organization that formed thousands of buddy couples, organizes many “typical” Dutch activities and gives many international students a chance to explore the Dutch culture from the inside out.
Iris Pielage & Malou Remijn