Saturday, 27 February 2016

Ignore the extremists - Swiss people embrace us 'Auslanders'

The lovely surprise gifts from my neighbours
I was a little annoyed to be confronted with someone else's sea of washing when I arrived at the communal washroom yesterday morning on my wash day – without a single space to dry my own. But my heart melted when I saw an apologetic note left for me from the two girls who live below us, saying that as their washing was still damp the night before, they had left it hanging up to dry and one of them would be back early that afternoon to take it down.

I shrugged, aware of how hard it must be to juggle a communal washroom rota when you are working and took some of their now-dry clothes down, folding them away into the available wash basket to make room for my own. I didn’t give it another thought until my doorbell rang later that afternoon and I opened the door to see the two girls bearing wine, chocolates and apologetic grins! And this is far from a one off. It is just one example of lovely little random acts of kindness which we have received from our neighbours here in our block of flats.

There is some sadness going around at present among us ‘Auslanders’ as the Swiss people prepare to vote tomorrow on the proposal to automatically deport foreigners who commit minor crimes, encapsulated by the infamous black sheep poster, which despite being widely criticised when it was first used several years ago, has resurfaced in the light of this recent activity. But you have to remember that the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) who has proposed this ‘Enforcement Initiative’ is an extremely right wing party, similar to the UK Independence Party, both of which have grown in popularity by feeding on the negative headlines surrounding the influx of immigrants. But this is certainly not a general view. Each day I encounter oodles of kindness and friendliness from the Swiss people in my community. 

It remains to be seen whether this ridiculous law will be passed tomorrow but I will not let it overshadow the high quality of life we have been given here in Switzerland and we will continue to enjoy the company of its incredible inhabitants.

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