Geneva and great community perspectives
Back home in Geneva after the Holidays, on the first day of my return I am greeted in my neighbourhood with subtle smiles, a kind nod, a warm glimpse in the eye and a “Bonne Année!”; I am recognized, this is where I belong, it´s my community.
You are right, if the truth be told, “I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien”, as the lyrics goes by Sting in his “An Englishman in New York”; that is, I’m a Scandinavian, a Danish woman in Geneva.
If, “Manners maketh man”, to quote Sting again, wouldn’t our differences in backgrounds and habits be a hindrance to sharing community, one might wonder.
Any reality check of Switzerland, of the Romandie and certainly when it comes to Geneva, will tell you that we have a lot of “legal aliens” forming part of the community, so the question is more how well we integrate and how we achieve and contribute to gaining that great feeling of belonging to the community.
Keywords are to my opinion to be receptive and to respect by knowledge the Swiss Genevan surroundings and culture. It is certainly also to be aware of the responsibility required as for forming part of an established and strongly normative community.
By learning, listening and responding, by discussing, agreeing and disagreeing, by joining, participating and networking, you will slowly but surely gain a place around that warming and integrating bonfire and be accepted in Geneva as an equal partner in what forms the continuous interaction-process of community building throughout great and small.
Being a multicultural centre and the principal player and window of Switzerland to the globalized world and society, Geneva forms an excellent locality to participate.
The leading contemporary sociologist, Anthony Giddens, has emphasized the great importance, in the complexity of a globalized and alienated society, to keep cultivating the ability to form communities as a natural democratic platform and environment for sound identities and norms.
Allow me to say that Swiss and Genevan qualities are no less than your opportunity to perform social, economic and political participation; principal integrative forces, upon which to build and develop robust communities.
And Switzerland counts on you in this respect. By the turn of the year, the President of the Swiss Confederation for 2016, Johann Schneider-Ammann, similar to his predecessors, in his speech to the public has underlined the importance of the effort and participation of each and every one in order to keep reinforcing the Swiss society.
When I flew back to Geneva from Copenhagen the other night after the Christmas Holidays, the Scandinavian Airline aircraft made a turn over the warm embracing lights of the city and suburbs. Looking down, I imagined it written by the lights underneath: “Welcome home, you are not an alien, it is here you belong”.
January 9, 2016 Dorit Konkolewsky