Year One

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.

1 June 2015

On this, the first anniversary of my landing here (2 June 2014) – I want to thank all of you across Switzerland and Liechtenstein for welcoming me so warmly, for sharing your honest feedback with me, for introducing me to new experiences, and – fundamentally – for joining me in making the world a better place!

That first week was a whirlwind – meeting the whole embassy, attending a conference at which I knew exactly no one, and having dinners with people I had only met virtually.  Since then, I’ve traveled all over the country, met people from all different walks of life, tasted a broad array of Swiss and Liechtenstein foods and wines, swam in a couple of rivers, and so much more!  And I’m only just getting started!

Most importantly, US Embassy Bern – in partnership with the Swiss and Liechtensteiners has had an impact – especially in the areas of shared prosperity, global security, and mutual understanding & respect.  I’m not going to do a comprehensive review of the past year because (1) it’d be so lengthy you might fall asleep, (2) it’d be redundant since you can see most of it via my various social media channels.  So – what I will do instead is share just a few of highlights from this past year (please know that there are many many more highlights – this is just a small sample)

  • Organizing the White House CEO Roundtable – Switzerland was the FIRST country to participate in a country-specific business roundtable at the White House. The 8 companies made investment commitments and most made apprenticeship commitments.  More info here.
  • Meeting with lots of students – I’ve met with many students of different ages from many different types of schools.  The students with whom I’ve met are talented, ask great questions and give me faith in the future!  Here’s the latest school with whom I’ve met
  • Countering Violent Extremism – Whether it’s collaborating to help start GCERF (the Global Community Engagement and Resiliency Fund), or having Foreign Minister Burkhalter attend and inspire others at the White House CVE Summit – we are working together to look upstream and try to counter the narrative and appeal of destructiveness. Some thoughts on togetherness.
  • River Swimming – It was beyond thrilling to jump off the bridge by the Tierpark Dählhölzi into the River Aare!  Imagine a free amusement park ride without the queue.

Throughout, I’ve felt a deep sense of gratitude for this opportunity and gravity for the impact that we’re having.  I’m also reminded every day of a card friends gave me that states: “Life Begins at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone.”  And you know what – it’s so true!

If you have favorite or memorable thoughts from this past year’s US relations with Switzerland and/or Liechtenstein – feel free to share!

Here are pictures from my arrival day