Chargé d’Affaires Tara Feret Erath had the pleasure of meeting four American social entrepreneurs in Zurich and learning about their visit to Switzerland (photo from left to right: Emma, Carly, Chargé Erath, Miro, Maria). The four were in Switzerland to participate in the Global Youth Summit organized by the Swiss non-profit organization Global Changemakers.
We interviewed the four young people about their passions, projects and impressions of Switzerland.
Carly Dennis, 18, is from Eagle River, Alaska. She is focused on environmental and sustainability issues, such as climate change.
“Alaska has seen the effects of climate change quite dramatically; our winters are getting much shorter and warmer. It’s really impacting our culture and our economy, and a lot of people’s lives are being drastically altered by these changes. I care a lot about trying to change things on a community level and getting into politics to try and start solving these problems.”
“The conference I attended helped me connect to so many people with similar concerns – I was able to connect with them and learn from them. I learned a lot about Swiss culture, and about the climate. I realized it’s not just Alaska experiencing climate change, but also parts of Switzerland.”
Emma Pottinger, 21, is currently studying at the University of Cape Town. She was born in the U.S. but grew up in Monterrey, Mexico, and Durban, South Africa. Emma uses education, mentoring and debating as tools to fight inequality.
“My life revolves around the idea of the lottery of birth. We don’t control who our parents are, what citizenship we have, and the things we are born into. One thing I’ve realized is how these random things really define whether you’re able to go to university, get a good job, or if you’re hungry. I want to mitigate the effects that these random things have on your potential and capabilities.”
“The cows in Switzerland moo differently. They were going off in the middle of the night, they sounded like an alarm clock! It was such an equal-measure, equal-times between each moo. I was born in Vermont, and I swear, our cows there moo differently.”
Maria Myers, 18, lives in Texas. She is passionate about sustainable development and women’s rights.
“I run two non-profits focused on maternal health and youth entrepreneurship. I’m in Switzerland for the Global Youth Summit in Aarau, which is basically a huge gathering of young people addressing different human rights and sustainability issues.”
“I was just amazed by how sustainable Switzerland is in general. The commitment to sustainability and the fact that that’s a cultural value – I find that to be very inspiring and beautiful. I’m inspired by the Swiss governmental system and how democratic and efficient Switzerland is as a country.”
Miro Siegel, 18, is originally from the United States and currently lives out of his suitcase, in many different places. He is passionate about alternative education.
“My live heavily involves travel and part of my focus is on bringing travel to the conversation as a legitimate point of education. Focusing on cultural immersion is one of the most important ways that we can foster peace and harmony within the next generation of learners.”
“It’s almost scary how orderly and clean everything is. Having been to so many places, I’ve come to find comfort in chaos – which simply does not exist here in Switzerland. Everyone seems to be very content with the lives they lead; Switzerland seems to be a very well-balanced place.”
Carly Dennis, Emma Pottinger, Maria Myers, and Miro Siegel were in Switzerland for one week in mid-July 2017, to participate in the Global Youth Summit. During the one-week program, the four Americans joined almost 60 other like-minded young people from all over the world. Together, they got their creative juices flowing, discussed projects and ideas, and learned about skills and opportunities to move their individual initiatives forward. The summit was organized by the Swiss non-profit organization Global Changemakers, a program that was originally started under the British Council.
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.