Americans in Switzerland: Meet Global Changemakers, Serene and Matthew

Deputy Chief of Mission Tara Erath met with American Changemakers Matthew (on the left) and Serene (on the right) in Zurich.

Deputy Chief of Mission Tara Feret Erath had the pleasure of meeting two American social entrepreneurs, who were in Zurich this August for the Global Youth Summit. She joined the two for a “meet & greet” and learned about their passions, projects and impressions of Switzerland.

The one-week Global Youth Summit is an annual event organized by the Swiss non-profit organization Global Changemakers. They choose young activists from all over the world to join their program. The summit aims at getting participants’ creative juices flowing, creating opportunities to discuss projects and ideas, and providing skills and training that help move individual initiatives forward.

Serene lives in Boulder, Colorado.

She’s double-majoring in Political Science and Journalism with a minor in Leadership Studies and is passionate about women’s empowerment issues, such as girls’ education. Additionally, she cares about politics, government, and justice, and engages in ending violence and hate crimes towards marginalized communities.

“Our world is a stronger and better place when all people feel empowered in their ways of living, worshiping, and being. I hope to always bring about a more inclusive world wherever I am.”

Serene dreams of becoming a Supreme Court Justice and working on policy to end hate crimes in the United States. If there is some room to act in a Bollywood film or release the first Indian-American female rap album that would also not be too bad, she adds with a wink.

Spending a week in Switzerland, Serene has made new best friends and was able to meet many types of leaders working on various projects. It allowed her to draw from their strengths, talents, challenges, and ways of leading. She visited Zurich and Geneva, where she explored several monuments, tourist sites, local restaurants and stores.

“One of my favorite experiences happened while walking around Zurich and stumbling upon a few locals dancing. I was struck by their dance so I started trying to learn it on the side. One of the locals noticed this, and invited us to join them. Allowing those around us to feel as though they are included and welcomed in our ways of life is one of the best ways to bring people in our world together.”

Matthew is from Phoenix, Arizona.

But he currently lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he is a senior at Duke University. He is passionate about education equity and social justice.

“I believe that all students deserve to attend a school where they can feel safe and supported by their teachers and peers. My organization focuses on community building and anti-bullying amongst middle schoolers.”

Matthew wants American students to realize that they have more in common than they think, and he challenges them to treat each other with kindness, compassion, and mutual respect. After graduation, he plans to return to his home state of Arizona to teach middle school, where he can affect change in his own classroom every day.

The week in Switzerland and the experience with the Global Youth Summit has reminded Matthew that young people have both the power and capacity to create meaningful change. He extended his stay in Switzerland to explore Zurich, Lucerne and other parts of the country.

“I’m struck by Switzerland’s natural beauty. My favorite moment so far was eating dinner with a Swiss Global Changemaker and her family in her backyard. Good conversation and good food makes for a perfect evening. I’ve felt very welcomed here in Switzerland, and I plan to come back soon.”

This blog post is part of a series of profiles on Americans in Switzerland, in which U.S. Embassy Bern portrays the lives, travel, and work of Americans met in Switzerland. Stay tuned on social media via #AmericansInCH.