Every six weeks, the members of the Match Houses teams gather and inspire each other. They have dinner together and get to know each other at a deeper level. In this manner, students can blow new life into the current projects in their neighborhoods.
Match Houses is a project of Match Maastricht. They are houses located in different areas of Maastricht where students can live for free –you only pay electricity, gas, water, municipal taxes and internet. Together with a team of fellow students you connect your neighbourhood and help neighbours to build new relationships.
For the first inspiration evening of the academic year, Janna and Shanti, coaches of Match Houses prepared several entertaining, small tasks in order for the group to get to know each other better.
In one of the exercises, the students have to identify points that they all had in common. First in smaller groups, and then as one big group. They agreed that a common point was their social commitment and involvement. One girl described it beautifully: “I notice that I get more frustrated by certain events than my friends. I also take action more quickly because social problems just concern me more.”
The students live in houses in different neighbourhoods and as the inspiration evening continues, it becomes clear that they all face different challenges (and benefits). Below, Allisa, Lizette, Nicole and Esmee tell about their experiences.
Learning to speak Dutch
Allisa is a German girl in her second master’s degree. She speaks German, but has a knowledge of Dutch at A2 level.
‘You have to understand the basics of Dutch if you want to communicate with the neighborhood. However, in Caberg, the ethnicity background is very diverse and not prominently Dutch. That is why Caberg has the advantage for me that I can sometimes speak English with the neighbors.’
Last year, the UM newsletter contained information about a chicken house the Match students were building in Mariaberg. It caught Allisa’s attention as she is very concerned about sustainability. Since then, she follows Match. She explains that it was an easy decision for her to apply for the Match houses team.
‘As I had to move out of my previous room in the summer, I needed a new place to live. On the one hand, I was so done with all the difficulties I had with the housing agencies. On the other hand, I missed a certain amount of contact with the neighbors. The latter is something we didn’t have in my previous student house’.
Being okay with mistakes
In the neighborhood Pottenberg lives Lizette. She is a PhD student who came to Maastricht in the middle of the corona pandemic. Her research is about HIV prevention in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. This made it seem like a much better option to integrate into the neighborhood instead of renting an apartment. She states that even as a PhD-researcher it is possible to apply for the Match Houses, as long as you have the right mindset.
Last year, Lizette lived in Pottenberg as well. In contrast to Lisa, she believes it is important to know a certain amount of Dutch in her neighborhood. Pottenberg residents are mostly elderly who only speak Mestreechs (the dialect of the city of Maastricht, see also our blog (Integreren met Mestreechteneren doe je zo – Match Maastricht). She was the only one in her house who was comfortable speaking Dutch, leading to her translating a lot of things. Lizette explains:
‘You have to be comfortable making mistakes. It is important as a personality treat as well.’
Lizette gives an insight into why she joined the Match Houses team.
‘My intrinsic motivation to join Match Houses is that I just really enjoy volunteering. I am part of so many different things. I am taking on different types of projects and none of them are boring. Match offers me a lot of creativity and variety while doing good.’
A challenging start
Nicole is living in Match’ House at Wittenvrouwenveld for the first year and explains how they try to connect with the area.
‘First, we have to explore the field in Wittevrouwenveld, to know the needs of the people. What already stands out is the need for organizing events for children.’
At the moment, they are still searching for concrete ideas, but they have a focus on children because events for children are lacking according to the population. She also confesses that covid has a huge impact on the group. The measurements are constantly changing and it is mainly a matter of waiting to see what will become of their activities.
Esmee too is new in the project of Match Houses, as is the house she lives in. Therefore, she can start from scratch and other people in the upcoming years can build upon her experiences. Unfortunately, due to the difficulties this project faced in the epidemic, she still lives alone.
Esmee is still looking for a peer. Do you think the Match Houses project is something for you? Applications have recently been reopened to fill the missing spot in Amby! We look forward to hearing from you! Click below for more information: