The Zug Migration Advisory Service (FMZ) is introducing what is known as a host programme whereby locals meet up with recent new arrivals to show them around the area and help with their integration.
As Esther Dunn (on the left in the photograph), the managing director of the FMZ, explained, some 2,000 people a year arrive from abroad to work in Zug. Now they will be able to benefit from this new project whereby they will be shown, for example, where all the most important cantonal offices are, what they can do in their free time, and what associations they might like to get involved with. “We have noticed new arrivals often have difficulty getting into contact with local people; and, with this programme, we are there to welcome them here,” she added.
Of course, it would be possible to engage expats from the same country of origin as the new arrivals to help, and naturally, the former are welcome to get involved if they wish, though the core idea behind the project is having someone local interested enough to show the newcomers round, and preferably through German.
Hence various associations in the canton have been contacted to see if they might have anyone who could help. Indeed, the associations themselves could benefit themselves by getting new members, too. Individuals, however, are not excluded from the project. “We thought three such meetings would be a good start,” said Dunn. “One to get to know each other, a second to go on a tour of the city, the local tourist board helping out here, and a third to pursue a common hobby, perhaps. Whether they want to carry on meeting after that, well, it is up the individuals themselves,” she said. The advisory centre itself would pair up the individuals concerned according to their jobs, interests and family status.
The young man in the photograph, Dymitro Maksiuta, an engineer who enjoys cycling walking and windsurfing, is from the Ukraine and came to Zug in January to work for a company here; he is planning to stay in Switzerland. “At present I have not had much opportunity to meet many new friends,” he said, adding how German was a bit of a problem, too. It was at a meeting organised by the FMZ that he first heard about this hosting programme. “I am not really familiar with Swiss culture, society and traditions and such like, which is why I went to the FMZ; I thought it would be interesting to get involved in such a project.” Mrs Maksiuta is due to arrive here later this month, though she does not have a job here yet.
As Cornelia Bisch, the journalist who wrote this article, mentioned, one person who has already volunteered to help on the scheme is 39-year-old Sara Hübscher (on the right in the photograph), who works in marketing and communications and is head of the Cham Tourist Board. She is also a former teacher of German to expats and asylum-seekers, so she knows only too well about their concerns. She is also a keen sportswoman and can well imagine going jogging with a new arrival, for example. Communication in English would not be a problem. And she could cope with French, and, in a more limited way, in Spanish Russian and Finnish, too. “Actually, this hosting programme brings together all things I like,” she admitted.
Further information can be found on www.fmzug.ch.