■ 23:34 (UTC±01:00 +DST), 20 APR 2016 | CHE ZÜRICH-CITY
China continues to be my home, especially when it comes to where I was born, and to which ethnic group I belong to. Han Chinese by blood, I am a member of the world’s largest ethnic group with around 5,000 years of history. I continue to, and will further deepen, my bonds with China and particularly the city of Beijing. The years through to 2022 and beyond will be exciting to extents never seen before. Already before 2022, the city of Beijing is getting ready for two key events — co-hosting the World Cup in Basketball, as well as the World Horticultural Expo — both planned for 2019, as well as the celebrations of the PRC at 70.
I cannot think of a more exciting place to take centre stage in than the city of Beijing. And I cannot think of a better way of pulling this off than with all the elements of Swissness.
You see, Switzerland is now such a big element of me that I simply cannot be myself without being Swiss. First things straight, I have a Swiss passport. This red booklet is a design classic and opens the gates to around 170 countries and territories — no visas needed! It also is one of Europe’s most multilingual passports, and there’s also a lot of “cantonal elements of Swissness”: on the first 26 pages intended for visas and stamps are printed the iconic buildings of every Swiss canton. The one that’s closest to me? The Wasserkirche of Zürich, just by the Limmatquai.
In the same canton, Zürich, I went to international school for just around a decade. The Inter-Community School gave me my first stage to perform on — things got off to a start when I read along with a fellow student, on a stage, in front of the microphone, a poem in French. Stage fright instantly disappeared, and my trek and path to bigger-still stages began in Switzerland, 20 years ago. (That’s why I call it “Stage Swissness” — made in Switzerland!) Equally 20 years ago, also in Switzerland, I coded my first HTML page that would eventually be one of only three websites to make it to the “wider” Internet — as a student page of the school on the Internet.
To not to be Swiss is impossible chez moi. Multilinguality, multiculturality, cosmopolitanism, and being open to the world are very Swiss values to me, having lived in Zürich for 12 years. Precision, attention to details, and professional service, delivered with a smile, are all aspects of life, as well as every single thing done in this country. Before picking my “own” font, previous websites I did all used Swiss typography.
Swissness is even standard my end when it comes to being on the go. My favourite means of transport is by rail, perfected by Switzerland (Swiss trains are probably the most punctual trains you’ll run into in most places). Even if I do get behind the wheel, my car almost always will come to an automatic stop if I find there’s a pedestrian intending to cross the street, a clear sign of following the rules (which many people do “automatically” in Switzerland, even at 03:00 in the morning!). Finally, I do all that I can to keep things neat, orderly, and tidy, another “thing” I learnt from all these Swiss years.
Swissness is “positive energy” (if you intend to read it the Chinese way), but I’d like to think of it more as “inspirational energy”. The Swiss are remarkably low-key on the world stage, supplying the world with precision timepieces whilst occasionally throwing a huge Swiss International Air Lines ad in the London Underground. The Swiss system of democracy is exemplary, but we perfect it ourselves — we are neutral (and have been for a long time), and it’s not Swiss for us to invade other countries just to show off our system of government. We perfect our A1 motorway all the time, and we do it within our bit of the planet, so that others can drive around and be inspired by this Swissness — to the details, to efficiency, to the way “everything just works — just like that”. I’d like to think of Swissness more in a sense that we’re doing things right, but that it’s also possible the rest of the world both enjoys how we pull it off right, and maybe — just maybe — be inspired at doing it the way we do. (You’ll know what I’m on about if you’ve just left Switzerland for a “different destination” where the service is, let’s say, not as good as you’d dreamed of.) From having some of the world’s most efficient immigration officers at Zürich Airport Passport Control (Fingerdock Terminal B, you’re a star!) to giving every passenger a nice piece of Swiss chocolate on our flag carrier, there’s plenty to love about Switzerland.
I know that and I know the world is a better place when things just work out right. I’ve experienced it myself — from typing out batch files on DOS to pointing-and-clicking away on the Mac OS. I like to make things easier, more refined, and executed in a more graceful way. Switzerland is much like that, and I’d like to come closer to like-minded people and hopefully, just hopefully, make that Swiss element that bit more inspirational. For one. And for all. ■ ■ ■