Wonder took a different point of view and launched the ‘Burger buddy’ (Citizen Buddy) to help bridge the chasm. A citizen buddy adopts a politician or civil servant for half a year to help him or her in their hard work for the country.
The participants sign up by filling out a form on the Citizen Buddy site, giving some information about themselves and the way they would like to be or have a buddy. Then a match is made and the couple meets up. For half a year, they have regular appointments. These might take place at work, in a café or even at the squash court. The citizen buddy poses curious questions, reflects on what they see or hear and provides valuable information from their experiences in society. Thus the buddy helps their mentee to look at their work afresh.
As it turns out, the experience is equally inspiring for the citizen buddy’s. Many of them reported their prejudices about government had been taken away. It had become clear to them why it’s so difficult to govern a country.
So far, over 700 people have signed up to become a citizen buddy, and over 200 politicians and civil servants took part. The initial group of twenty couples included the minister of minority policy, Rita Verdonk and two members of parliament. Dozens of employees of various ministries have taken part, as well as many local and regional politicians. This year Wonder aims to realize an interactive site where those interested in participating can make contact and participate in the program in a more accessible way.