Language / Switzerland

Expats Get a Bad Rap in Switzerland

Last year, Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) started airing a show called 26 Minutes, a weekly 26-minute Swiss French show reminiscent of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report in the way that it mixes banal news with comic relief. However, unlike Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, Vincent Kucholl and Vincent Veillon missed the memo about exposing and shaming bigotry and instead perpetuated it themselves in a recent segment.

Funny enough, it was a Swiss friend who brought it to my attention. The segment exploits a series of grotesque and outright dangerous stereotypes about expats: that they are angry and unapologetically non-French-speaking (worse yet, they’re American, too).

I won’t lie – I’ve met people like the obnoxious man in the segment but they are few and far in-between. Most of the expats who live in Geneva are multilingual (polyglottal even), thoroughly enjoy living in Switzerland and take full advantage of what it has to offer (snow sports, breathtaking landscapes, etc.) and make an effort to learn to speak French if they don’t already do so (see the great demand for cheap French classes).

Perhaps this was meant in good fun. It’s probable that I missed some underlying Swiss humor. Whether or not that’s actually the case, that’s what I’ll choose to believe.

 

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