Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Swiss Roots" Makes First Media Splash


After more than a year of deliberations, the brain child of the Swiss consulate in New York, a project called "Swiss Roots" makes the headlines in the USA, at least in Wisconsin. "Swiss Roots" aims to build bridges between the Swiss and the Americans and lets more than a million Americans look up their Swiss roots. The following article and picture were published by The Monroe Times. The picture shows Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, talking with Lukas Fitze and Ambassador Raymond Loretan, Consul General of Switzerland.



Swiss roots firmly anchored in American soil
By Ellen Williams-Masson

NEW GLARUS -- Chevrolet may be as American as apple pie, but the automotive legend, like more than 1 million U. S. citizens, has Swiss origins that emphasize common interests, a shared history and more importantly, a shared future between the United States and Switzerland.

"Especially after the war in Iraq, there has been a decrease of understanding between Americans and Europeans, including in Switzerland," Ambassador Raymond Loretan, Consul General of Switzerland, explained. "We could see in Europe a rise in anti-Americanism. The project 'Swiss Roots' is a way to address this problem at the level of people-to-people."

Loretan spoke to a group of Swiss and the Swiss-minded at the New Glarus Hotel Monday, not in his official role as Ambassador but as the co-chairman of Swiss Roots, an initiative program to connect Swiss and American people.

"What we want to achieve with this project is (to allow) American and Swiss people to get in touch with each other to confirm or rediscover that the values that we are defending are the same -- the basic values like individual freedom, human rights and democracy," Loretan said. "These values today are challenged in the world and we think that only together we will be able to make them prevail."

Swiss Roots seeks to establish links between the Swiss, Swiss-Americans and those of Swiss affinity. In order to accomplish this goal, the organization is building a Web site where people may research their Swiss genealogy, contact Swiss families who share their name and learn about all things Swiss.

Promotional events are planned throughout 2006 in the five regions of the United States with the highest Swiss populations: California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New York. A Swiss Postal Bus roadshow and Pro Helvetia cultural program will connect the regional events and the bus will appear locally with a variety of Swiss-themed activities for the Wilhelm Tell festival in New Glarus and Cheese Days in Monroe in September of 2006.

Swiss Roots shares many goals with the Swiss Center of North America and may turn over management of the Swiss Roots Web site to the SCNA after 2006. Kaye Gmur of the New Glarus-based SCNA said her organization is delighted to have been selected to work with Swiss Roots.

"Out of all the places in the country with Swiss populations and traditional Swiss events, they picked New Glarus and Monroe," Gmur said. "In Green County, if you are Swiss, then you know it and celebrate it, but many people around the country aren't aware and we want people to make that connection back to Switzerland."

Numerous regional and international businesses are of Swiss origin or have Swiss ties, including Nestlé, General Casualty Insurance, UBS Financial Services, Joseph Huber Brewing Company, The Swiss Colony and Roth Käse. And Louis Chevrolet, the Swiss mechanical genius who designed the first car endowed with his name, will be forever linked with the American icons "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet."

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