Open House at the Geneva English School – Saturday 14th March

The Geneva English School, set in lovely grounds in picturesque Genthod with view of the lake and Mont Blanc, is holding an Open Day on Saturday 14th March from 09:30 – 12:00.

The school is a not-for-profit co-educational international school for children aged 3 to 11. The Open Day is is an ideal opportunity to visit the school, see the classrooms, talk to the headmaster and find out about the school’s curriculum which is based on the English National Curriculum and which includes a strong French programme for all groups throughout the week.

It’s also a good opportunity to check out the Library Learning Centre with its cosy new reading room which was opened by children’s author Anne Fine in October last year.  Register here

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Photo above – A room with a view and a choice of children’s books!

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Online reading and a cosy sofa!

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Big Bazaar in Nyon – Books in English, Sports Gear, Toys and Games, Christmas Decorations and more.

Every two years, the IWCN (International Women’s Club of Nyon) holds a big bazaar in the centre of Nyon and the next one will be on Saturday 25th October from 10:00 -16:00. The proceeds of this bazaar go to both local and international charities. The bazaar itself is a great opportunity to buy second hand English books, both non-fiction and fiction.  There will be stalls galore at the bazaar selling home made baking and Christmas decorations,  second hand sports gear, toys and games, jewellery, accessories and more. There will be a brocante, tombola, a chance to have a cuppa or a bite to eat at the “Bistro” on the day. Bring the children too, it’s a fun family day out and entry is free!  If you have any questions about the bazaar, contact Kay Bond: bond.kay@gmail.com

Not only is this a good chance to support local charities, but a chance to meet some new faces too!

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IWCN Bazaar

Open Day at Conservatoire, Support a sponsored hike by a St Cergue resident

Tomorrow Saturday 5th April it’s Open Day/ Portes Ouvertes at the Conservatoire de L’Ouest Vaudois in both Nyon and Morges, from 10:00 to 16:00.

This prestigious music school will be open for the public to visit to find out more about the school’s courses.  Adults and children alike can learn about playing  an instrument from guitar to piano and drums. The school has its own choir and theatre group too.  There will be workshops at the Open Day for children from 3 years old and mini concerts performed by pupils at the school throughout the day. Many of the teachers at the Conservatoire speak English, so go along to find out more!

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If you have never been to the conservatoire in Nyon,  it’s worth visiting just to take a peek inside this lovely old building along the lake side.

Also, on Sunday 6th April, there will be an afternoon concert at the Conservatoire at 17:00 called La Sauve Melodia, details here

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Living in Nyon is always happy to consider submissions from readers and we are delighted to publish this short article by Diantha Terry.

Diantha moved with her family to the Canton of Vaud with her family five years ago and she has written a little about living in the village of St Cergue.  Diantha is about to embark on a sponsored hike in the Himalayas to raise money for Hope for Children. If you would like to read more about the charity or to sponsor her, then read on.

Diantha Terry in St Cergue

I started my career as a nurse and then worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 13 years.  We moved with our children, to Switzerland in 2009 when my husband took up a position with the World Health Organisation.  We were keen to continue living in a village environment as we had done in the UK, so chose to live 30 minutes outside Geneva first in the pretty village of Genolier, near Nyon, and then in St Cergue.  St Cergue is nestled in the Jura mountains and often has snow on the ground for 4 months of the year which keep its two small ski slopes  running even at night with floodlit events.

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Photo above by Diantha Terry   St Cergue in the snow

We both wanted our children to feel part of the community they grew up in and so we sent them to the local Swiss schools. The state is very supportive and the children, who were 6 and 7 when they moved, received a lot of free extra tuition.  For us it was the best decision we made. They are both well settled and speak fluently in French at school and with their friends, and they are also learning German.

We all love the variety of outdoor activities that living in Switzerland offers, with skiing and snow sports in the winter and hiking and the lakes to enjoy in the summer. Living in St-Cergue is a true delight as so much of the outdoors is accessible and you will often find me out walking my dogs in the Jura countryside.

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Photo above – The Desalpe in St Cergue

Having had such a fortunate change to our lives, by moving to Switzerland, and being very conscious of the opportunities open to us, we as a family feel it is very important to support people whose lives are not so fortunate.

In 2004 I led a successful fundraising campaign in our Cambridgeshire village and the money raised enabled a number of primary schools in Sri Lanka to be re-equipped following the devastation caused by the tsunami. (My own parents made the move from Sri Lanka to the UK in the 1970’s.)

This year, in April, I am undertaking a sponsored hike in the Himalayas for one week, to raise money for the UK-based charity Hope for Children.

HOPE is a fantastic charity that helps orphaned, disabled, poor and exploited children across Asia, Africa and Europe.  If you would like to be part of giving something more to children who have less, please visit my fund-raising page here.  Every donation is valuable, whatever size!

My target was to raise £2000 and I’m almost there.

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 Photo above – Diantha Terry

Learning the language to help your integration into Switzerland

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Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais s’il vous plaît?  – Learning the language to help integration into Switzerland

Here is an excellent article written by Melina Hiralal on learning a language to help integration into  Switzerland.  She gives tips, hints and advice and recommends a good language learning website. Read on to find out how a recent trip to Australia made her reflect that language is more than a tool for integration, but is also a way of showing respect for the culture you are a guest of.

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Melina Hiralal is a cross cultural consultant and lives near Nyon and she works with companies, families and individuals offering training and assistance during both the expatriation and the repatriation process.  This is her second article in a series on expatriate issues  (read her first here)and says that sometimes, ”living in an unfamiliar culture is like watching a foreign film without sub-titles”. If  you would like advice from Melina you can contact her at hiralal.wolf@bluewin.ch

Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais s’il vous plaît?

We’ve all been in a shop or on public transport and heard variations of this sentence. Language is one of the primary tools needed to facilitate integration when you arrive at the new location which you will be calling home for the next couple of years. In the Lac Léman region, the answer will increasingly be “yes” and information can be exchanged and transactions made in a manner that is satisfactory to both parties. Language is also one of the keys to understanding the culture you are living in and a simple grasp of French enables you to participate in local, daily life. For many expats however, mastering the local language represents a real challenge as they often have no real need for it to accomplish the job they were hired for.  The Lac Léman area is filled with English-speakers and expats can definitely get by with little or no knowledge of French.

However, on a recent trip to Australia, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with an Aboriginal in Sydney who started by telling me that in order to speak his own language and tell his own stories during the tour (he was not a native of Sydney) he had needed to ask permission from the elders of the Sydney tribes. From Aboriginal Australia to La Côte, I realised that language is more than a tool for integration but also a way to show respect for the culture you are a guest of.  Plunging ahead in your mother-tongue without asking permission to use it is just plain rude in both hemispheres!  Asking permission first (using the local language) does not need perfect language skills and can be reduced to one sentence learned parrot-style. Starting conversations with this one sentence is more respectful; it will result in a more pleasant interaction with the local population, and will generate a lot more goodwill than doing the opposite. The Swiss, more than others, have an understanding of linguistic challenges and many have faced similar difficulties on crossing the language frontier of the “Rösti fence” at some point in their lives. Therefore, most will empathise and be respectful of your attempts. So how can an expat, with little time to devote to learning a new language, learn enough to get by and participate more in local life?

Benny Lewis from the website Fluent in Three Months strongly encourages immediately abandoning the mother-tongue wherever possible. This may seem daunting but he gives an easy example illustrating how this can be done. When visiting a restaurant, he recommends asking for both the English and the local menus. The layouts are often similar (sometimes there are even pictures) and the English menu will help you to choose what you would like to eat. When it comes to ordering, you use the local one and a combination of language and pointing will probably be enough to obtain what you want.

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Take language lessons: a true beginner will need to have a few lessons, and it can save time if you look for a course using teaching methods where language is taught in “chunks” or phrases that are useful, rather than those culminating in a dissertation on “Les Misérables”.

Join a local association: a brave friend of mine joined the local fire brigade and ended up not only learning better french but meeting his neighbours which increased his sense of belonging to the village.

Join a local club: pick an activity that you are already familiar with and instead of joining the expat one, join the local one; this can be anything from singing in a choir, playing bridge, sports-related, etc.

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 Take up a course: instead of a language course, pick a creative course from the long list of the Ecole Club Migros for example. Don’t be tempted by their few courses taught in English, and endeavour to learn how to cook Thai food, sew your own clothes, or do Ikebana all in French.  This is true learning by doing and when you miss “the middle bit” of the teacher’s explanation, you’ll just need to look around at what the others are doing and follow suit. As well as increasing your language competence and possibly learning a new skill, another positive aspect of all these activities is that you will meet new people. You may not become best friends, but they can be helpful sources of information for you. Finally, as familiarity grows, you will begin to feel less of a newcomer and more at home and at ease in your surroundings.

Photo below – Melina Hiralal

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Watch English Movies in Open Air Cinema, Go on a Ride with Nyon’s Pirates, Dine in White on L’Ile de La Harpe and more

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Open Air Cinema in Nyon until 25th August- Some films in English!

The open air cinema has set up its screen until the 25th of August at the Promenade d’Italie. The following films will be shown in English:

Wednesday 14th 21:00: Wolverine 3D

Friday 16th, 21:00: RED 2

Sunday 18th,21:00 : Star Trek, Into Darkness 3D

Check the whole programme and book tickets here.

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Mid-summer festival” in St-Cergue, Saturday 17th August

A tradition apparently dating back to the 1930’s, this day of festivities gives the cowherds a break from the alpages as everybody gathers in the village for bovine beauty contests, pig races and “toupin” (ie the huge cow bells) ringing. There will also be alphorn and rides in horse-drawn carts. The event takes place all day, in the middle of the village. Check the programme out here.

African Folk Music in Nyon, Sunday 18th August

The Compagnie Yankadiy will perform traditional and contemporary music and dances from Burkina Faso, in traditional dress. This takes place at the Esplanade des Marroniers from 11:00 to 13:30.

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Barrel Organ Festival and Boat Parade in Rolle, Sunday 18th August

25 organists along the lakeside will turn the handle of their barrel organ for the pleasure of all, from 10:00. There will also be animations for children and a “Limonaire”, a huge and complex barrel organ (you can see a picture of one here). From 11:00, there will be a “canot” (small motor or rowing boat) parade. The day ends with a free concert in the Castle courtyard at 17:00

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Dinner in White on the Ile de la Harpe in Rolle, Friday 23rd August

Initiated by bunch of friend in Paris in 1998, the “Diner en Blanc” is a concept where people meet up in an unknown but picturesque location, all dressed in white, with their own food and drinks to share a meal. This has now spread across the world, with more than 10 thousand participating in Paris and other cities, including Rolle. The next edition will take place on the Ile de la Harpe, just outside Rolle. This is a great way to meet new people in an exciting way and beautiful surroundings. Transport to the island is organised from the Casino. Inscriptions and more information here. momes

Kids’ Saturday, Nyon Saturday 24th August

Organised by the SIC- the commerce and industry association of the area, different events in the town centre, to have some fun before term starts.

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Fêtes des Pirates” in Nyon, 24th and 25th August

The Nyon pirates organise two days of festivities, tying in with the traditional flea market that takes place every last weekend of the month. Free tours aboard the “Nyolue”, their boat, “Pirate Village” and different animations are organised. Eat fresh fera from the lake and meet Nyon’s very own Pirates!

Country and Rockabilly music with Rocky Sandona, Nyon Sunday 25th August

This band of accomplished musicians will take you back to the 50s with their music inspired by Johny Cash, Elvis Presley etc… From 11:00 to 13:30 at L’Esplanade des Marroniers