by Helene Zach Vonesch
I still remember my time in Princeton, where I started as an English student at Princeton University’s English Conversation Group (though the Davis International Center) and ended up being the president of a newly created group called “International Spouses & Partners of Princeton”. I stayed only two years in Princeton, but I was glad to have been involved in so many projects with the Davis International Center. It enabled me to meet a lot of people from around the world, some of with whom I am still in contact with. Many of us shared our struggles and experiences moving to and living in a new country, as well as when we went back to our own countries, and it continues to be a very enriching experience.
When returning to my home country of Switzerland, I yearned to provide similar support to other international spouses as I had done in Princeton. Unfortunately, at the University at Lausanne in Switzerland (called “EPFL”), where my husband works now, there did not exist either an international organization or a spouse group. I wondered if I could start an international spouse group at EPFL.
Through my husband’s lab, I met an American spouse, who was as enthusiastic about my idea as I was. Together we contacted different people at EPFL, until we finally got in touch with a group called ACIDE (an EPFL association of research scientists and lecturers). With their help, we were able to officially create a group called “International Spouses @ EPFL”.
In the beginning there were only a few people in the group, but with help from the design of our web site and the organization of an International Holiday Party, our group grew to a group of more than 50 members. This success showed that there was a great need for this type of support group.
The spouses in the “International Spouses @ EPFL” group regularly express their gratitude to both my American friend and I for what we have started and that has been so rewarding for both of us. The group is still not as evolved yet as the one at Princeton, but we are working on it! If ever you move to Lausanne, please join the “International Spouses @ EPFL”!
=> This article was reviewed by Dan Ethe’.