RCUI’s First project: the Exhibition:‘ik zie, ik zie wat jij niet ziet’– A non-Dutch view on Dutch habits

In 2020 our club turned 15; I was a member of the Lustrum team, planning a party to celebrate this special milestone.  Sadly, due to the Corona regulations, we were forced to cancel the event.  In any case, having been one of the club’s founding members, it was a good opportunity to look back over the highlights of the club’s history. 

In the Summer of 2004, the year before the club was officially chartered, the Special Representatives and members of the newly forming RC Utrecht International, organised our first project.  It was an exhibition with the theme ‘ik zie, ik zie wat jij niet ziet – A non-Dutch view on Dutch habits’.  The invitation to contribute was extended to other foreigners, artists, refugees, and expats, living in Utrecht, with the request to share their experiences of life in the Netherlands.

The title refers to the children’s game, ‘I spy (with my little eye)’, inviting players to observe and discover what they didn’t know, or realized before. Telling one’s story, sharing posters and photographs about something that shocked, surprised or humoured, when first living in the Netherlands, gives a broad view on the country, its inhabitants, and its culture.

The Utrecht municipality regularly organises exhibitions connected with the city, its history and other themes in the old Utrecht Town Hall on the Oudegracht.  We were honoured to have our exhibition in this historic location.  All ‘members’ were engaged in the process of setting up the exhibition.  Happily, we had some members with an artistic background and experience in that field. So, the result was interesting and intriguing.

The name and theme of the exhibition “I see” embodied both our club’s visibility to the Dutch community and its impressions on us. Conveniently, while we revealed our observations about the Dutch culture to the visitors, the Utrecht community also saw our identity and motto for the first time: “Sharing a cross-cultural experience”. 

The exhibition started with a celebratory vernissage on 2 July and went on until the end of August.

We connected the exhibition with fundraising a project in line with our theme, ‘I spy with my little eye’.  One of our founding members was an eye doctor; she introduced us to a colleague who had worked in Uganda training local eye doctors. He connected us with a local Eye Clinic in Uganda.  Funds raised by the exhibition enabled 40 cataract operations in the region of Uganda. 

Both projects were a great success; the exhibition in Utrecht Town Hall and the fund raising to support the Eye Clinic in Uganda.  When our club was officially chartered on 4th of March 2005, we could already look back proudly on our first successful projects. 

One of the earliest RCUI Members,


Project Diary: “Ik zie wat jij niet ziet’”