David Feng is Not David Feng Without Switzerland

David Feng is Not David Feng Without Switzerland

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.

Gemeindesaal Zumikon: The Place Where the David Feng Speaking Dream Began

Gemeindesaal Zumikon: The Place Where the David Feng Speaking Dream Began

I have to admit, I’ve mixed feelings when it came to the Gemeindesaal (or Community Hall, a “mini” City Town Hall of sorts) in Zumikon, Switzerland. It remained to me a lesser-favourite part of Zumikon, the place I went to school in Switzerland, for a fair bit of time — simply because we sat exams there — and it was rather scary. A grand hall for upwards of 500, converted to a hall of around 200-300 students sitting exams!

However, the whole thing changed on 14 December 1996. I remembered an audience that almost filled the entire hall — parents, kids, everyone, as everyone joined our school for an afternoon of performances just in time for the festive period. On a conservative count, I figured there were at least 200; more recently, I was told this figure could have been upwards of 500.

Stage Swissness

Stage Swissness

You will note I am all for Swissness in everything I do. Indeed: Attributes with positive connotations, which include fairness, precision, reliability, political stability, nature-ness, precision, and cleanliness, should be summarised and be marketed overseas as something that is typical of Switzerland. (That’s if you take it from the German Wikipedia!)

My challenge every time I head onstage is how to either host an event or make a talk in such a way that the audience feel like it’s done with Swiss quality. This is particularly big for me, because having travelled to so many different places, one does really see the difference between Switzerland and the rest of the world. There are also the tiny bits and bobs that so define the country that you simply miss when you’re beyond the border.

Having myself been frustrated at times with “things from other places” that might not work the way you wanted them to, I felt it was important to give the audience an evening where everything simply worked like clockwork. I’ve been adding elements from Switzerland in such a way that I’d be happy as a member of the audience myself, and my idea is if I tested the waters with high standards, you as the audience should enjoy the show as well!