This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.
18 September 2016
In my first few months of this position, many asked me whether I intended to visit all 26 of the Swiss Cantons. I didn’t and really couldn’t answer the question. It wasn’t my goal. Instead, I shared that:
“My goal is to meet people from all walks of life and from all across both countries.”
And now, here we are, 27 months after arriving and, sure enough, that goal of meeting an amazing array of people from across all of Switzerland has been achieved!
But, fortuitously, by focusing on the people, we also made it to all 26 cantons – and not just driving through each. All were meaningful visits. Below is a list of the first visits to each canton (we’ve been multiple times to many cantons, but haven’t listed out all visits).
The first canton in which we meaningfully spent time was, of course, Bern. It feels like just yesterday when we drove from the airport on June 2, 2014 to what has been our home for the past 2+ years. It was (and continues to be) thrilling to think of the adventures to come and the impact to have!
And then there were the visits to apprenticeship programs and schools all over both countries – schools like Kantonschule Obwalden, Lycée Collège des Creusets, the University of Lugano, and apprenticeship programs in St. Gallen, Jura, and elsewhere. Each has put together an incredible program and the apprentices and students always ask the best (and most insightful) questions.
We’ve been to the Rütli for Swiss National Day enough times that I have a favorite of the three boughs of the symbolic tree on the meadow. Going there, of course, means we spent time in both Uri and Schwyz. Somehow, we’ve always been blessed with fantastic weather and incredible views of the Vierwaldstadtersee.
Speaking of bodies of water – our many visits to Ticino – to Lugano, Ascona, and elsewhere – have allowed us to have Mediterranean-like experiences – but within Switzerland!
Heading east has taken us to Davos, Obermutten, San Bernadino, Chur, and elsewhere in Graubünden to eat delicacies like pizokel and capuns, meet with world leaders, visit businesses, and see world class mountain bikers.
Whether it’s the big cities like Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, and Zurich or the small towns like Pontresina, Sion, La Chaux de Fonds, Lyss, Entlebuch, and Appenzell, our experiences have been varied, meaningful, impactful, and memorable. We’ve seen both Landsgemeinden as well as multiple expressions of Fasnacht (I have to admit that it was hard but worth it to wake up at 3am for the one in Basel!). We’ve been blown away by the wines, the cheeses, the chocolates and, yes – the potatoes!
The cantons and regions across these two countries are beautiful, complex, impactful, and diverse. More importantly, however, the people in all of these regions have been and continue to be hospitable, interesting, caring, humble, and very very special.
Below is a list of the first visits across Switzerland. Vielen Vielen Dank to those who have hosted us through all of these amazing opportunities. We look forward to meeting many more people into the future!
|Where||What Was Going On|
|Aargau||Touring the Paul Scherer Institute|
|Appenzell Ausserrhoden||Seeing Alpabzug – the cattle descent (the cows coming home!)|
|Appenzell Innerrhoden||Witnessing the Landsgemeinde|
|Basel-Land||Doing a town hall at the International School of Basel|
|Basel-Stadt||Taking in the creativity at Art Basel|
|Bern||Arriving at the Embassy and our residence|
|Fribourg||Being welcomed by the Government and then experiencing the Murten Classics with them|
|Geneva||Visiting the World Economic Forum headquarters and meeting with my colleagues at our US Mission in Geneva|
|Glarus||Sitting in the middle of the Landsgemeinde|
|Graubünden||Participating in the SanBike festival with world class mountain bikers|
|Jura||Doing a Cantonal visit including meeting with the Government, visiting a watchmaker apprenticeship program, and touring Fossil – a US company with a big Swiss footprint|
|Lucerne||Hearing a spectacular concert at KKL during the Lucerne Festival|
|Neuchâtel||Kicking off the opening ball at the Neuchâtel Knights Swiss American Football game|
|Nidwalden||Visiting Pilatus – the only Swiss aircraft manufacturing corporation|
|Obwalden||Meeting with amazing students at Kantonschule Obwalden|
|Schaffhausen||Learning about the work that US corporation Johnson & Johnson does in Schaffhausen at the Cilag facility|
|Schwyz||Making my own Swiss Army Knife and learning about all that they do at Victorinox|
|Solothurn||Digging in at the groundbreaking for Biogen’s new facility|
|St. Gallen||Attending the St. Gallen Symposium at the University|
|Thurgau||Seeing the making of many of the trains in Switzerland and elsewhere at the Stadler Rail manufacturing location|
|Ticino||Meeting with Corriere del Ticino while visiting Melide and Lugano|
|Uri||Celebrating Swiss National Day on the Rütli|
|Valais||Taking in the Verbier festival after a visit to Bagnes and the Mauvoisin Dam|
|Vaud||Visiting Kudelski Group in Lausanne to learn more about their work in the United States|
|Zug||Meeting with Amgen in Zug to see what this US company is doing in its Swiss location|
|Zürich||Attending the Swiss-American Society annual lunch in Zurich|