KEY FINDING: develop an online platform as the single point of information for expats and locals in the region wishing to connect with various websites.
A diverse group representing both the public and private sectors attended this workshop, including members of social services, entrepreneurs, IT & media specialists, and educators. Their combined skills and experience made for a lively and productive discussion, and several key themes were quickly identified for exploration during the session, namely the need for:
- IT solutions to supplement face-to-face interaction
- Overview of available information and services for adults and children
- Definition of mutual expectations (expat and host country)
- Centralized resources and good publicity to ensure awareness of them
- Affordable framework for publishing web content
The experience of moving to another country varies for each newcomer. Perception and appreciation of the host country is linked to the online integration information and support available. Successful adaptation is affected by age, stage of life, linguistic ability, expected length of stay, education and employment level, and cultural background. Workshop members outlined principal expat needs still unmet within the Basel region and grouped expat desires into the categories below.
- Mentoring on everyday logistics and cultural differences would ease transition to a new culture and improve confidence of incomers.
- A volunteer database would identify opportunities for community work and encourage early involvement.
- A centralized information source in simple English would increase efficiency and prevent expats from tiring of the search for information.
Language and Culture
- A condensed and focused integration program will speed up the language learning process and accelerate immersion into local communities.
- Information tailored to highly diverse target audience (native/non-native English speakers).
- Information and personal stories will help manage local and expat expectations about challenges and achievements in language learning.
- Region-specific information for community, cantonal and cross-border areas will intensify sense of locality and belonging.
- Consolidation of multiple existing online and offline resources into a single, clearly structured, easily navigable tool would prove immensely valuable and foster understanding of and enthusiasm for the region.
It was agreed that the above needs would be best met through development of an online resource as a single point of contact. The proposed resource has become the BaselConnect website and will be extended to include the Community Portal working group of BaselConnect. Requirements for its success include:
- Region-specific content
- Up-to-date content collaboratively driven and managed by members
- Interpersonal communication as well as support for information cascade and broadcast
- Commercial and political interests vs. community interaction tightly controlled
- Publicizing resource via local media public authorities, corporations and social interest groups
- Novartis/Syngenta/Roche/Straumann – can support with information cascade to new associates from abroad
Read about our Working Groups and how they were inspired by the 2011 conference workshops on this page.