KEY FINDING: Create a buddy or Götti system through which locals assist expats in the process of adjusting to their new country and culture, help them feel more welcome, and enable them to contribute to the local community.
Twenty participants, half of them Swiss, attended this workshop. All agreed that, while helpful information is currently being made available to newcomers in the Basel area, receiving so much information all at once (most of it printed) can be overwhelming. It takes time to adjust to a different lifestyle, understand a new culture, and learn one’s way around. The cantons have been mandated to provide ways for foreign residents to learn the rules, the language, and to integrate comfortably into their new homes so they feel part of and can contribute to the community. Expats want to feel welcome, know where to go for guidance or help, and have confidence they will be supported. Some specific needs were identified:
- many Swiss want expats to be part of and engage in the community
- Expats would like to be asked what services are needed or wanted
- Expats require support to understand and fit in to the Swiss culture and lifestyle
- Expats need ongoing guidance from those familiar with local systems and ways
Idea Development & Solutions
The group agreed that there are two sides to the equation: the local desire for well-integrated foreign residents who respect and understand Swiss culture, and the expat desire for appreciation by locals of the challenges faced by newcomers. The group discussed various ideas for addressing both viewpoints:
- Existing newcomer meetings in Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land could be made more welcoming
- If expats were asked which services they really need, authorities and resource providers could focus on these and trim down unnecessary information
- Classes to help expats assimilate, understand that the integration cycle is normal and that they can move forward
The idea of creating a buddy/Götti system to connect locals with expats was considered a great solution that the group was eager to further develop. Not only would it provide a warm and personal welcome for newcomers to Basel, but it would also help with language learning, networking, and understanding the local way of life.
Read about our Working Groups and how they were inspired by the 2011 conference workshops on this page.