Portraits of Swiss Abroad

These portraits were originally published in the SwissCommunity OnlineMagazine Special Jubilee 2016.


Simone Benhassi

Simone Benhassi, 65 years old,
from Sonvilier

My fascination with Morocco began in 1975 when I was working as a travel guide for Airtour Suisse in Marrakesh. The lovely people, the aroma of the orange blossoms and the chicken tagine with lemon all appealed to me. After spells in Greece and Spain, I returned to Morocco in 1977 and met my husband. I worked as a destination manager for CH-Reiseveranstalter for many years, and later spent 15 years as the head of office for a Moroccan travel agency where I was responsible for organising tours. I work on a freelance basis today.




Florian Baccaunaud

Florian Baccaunaud, 26 years old,
from Renan

I have dual French and Swiss nationality. I was born in France where I also grew up and studied. I've therefore spent 24 of my 26 years there. Keeping in touch with my family in Switzerland has become much easier over the course of time thanks to the development of communications. Living abroad while maintaining close ties with Switzerland has increased my awareness of the two cultures – their pros and cons – in a natural way.



Andreas Briner

Andreas Briner, 47 years old,
from Schaffhausen

I am geologist working in Oman for a large international oil and gas company. I have study geology in Bern and discovered my passion for working and living abroad through several months of fieldwork in Oman during my MSc and PhD time. I am still reading Swiss newspaper online every day and have not lost touch completely with what is happening at “home” – despite the fact that I have not been on Swiss soil for many years now. As an avid F1 fan I am suffering with Sauber and still hope for more grand slam titles for Roger Federer!




Renzo Wellinger

Renzo Wellinger, 37 years old,
from Chur

I was born in Chur in 1978. After obtaining my school-leaving qualifications, I left the mountains of Grisons – which are magnificent on the one hand, but also restrictive on the other – in 2000 to head to Germany to broaden my horizons. I'm now working as an editor and blogger. I'm still in regular contact with Zurich, above all, where lots of my friends live. Professionally I deal a lot with label employees and festival organisers. I sometimes enjoy speaking to them on the telephone in dialect. My office colleagues often look at me afterwards with big, questioning eyes.



Thomas Dätwyler

Thomas Dätwyler, 60 years old,
from Zurich

My family and work are the most important things to me. Having grown up in Zurich, I see myself as a Swiss person with strong ties to his homeland and a conservative outlook.

To succeed as a foreigner in Asia, you have to be able to listen, observe, learn and integrate. Families remain intact, my 91-year-old mother has been living in Thailand with my wife's family for quite some time. Elderly people are much appreciated.




Michael Allenspach

Michael Allenspach, 37 years old,
from Oberbüren

I work for the Swiss company Geberit. I first spent four and a half years in Bangalore, India. Then I was in Hong Kong – ‘Asia's world city’ – for a year and a half from where we travelled around southern and northern Asia. I recently moved to Shanghai, a city with 23 million inhabitants. The opportunities in the modern world are limitless. I consider myself very fortunate and I'm aware that most people in the world do not have all of these opportunities. Holding a Swiss passport is something that makes me very proud.



Marie-Laure Rodrigues

Marie-Laure Rodrigues Da Silva,
11 years old, from Neuchâtel

I was born in Geneva on 12 January 2005. In 2013, I went to live in Brazil and I left my friends, my brother Bosco and my dad in Switzerland. Good that the internet exists! I can see my dad through Skype when he calls me and I can continue to tease my brother even remotely. To keep in touch with Switzerland I’m being home-schooled and once a year I go travel to Geneva on holiday. I love the lake, to walk in the botanical garden and the forest of the Bâtie. This year I went skiing with my dad, it was so cool.




Barbara Lehmann

Barbara Lehmann, 51 years old,
from Steffisburg

As a Swiss Abroad, I've been living in Portugal since 1991 with my Portuguese husband, now also a Swiss citizen, who I met on holiday in the Algarve in 1986. A story heard and told a hundred times with typical rows over northern and southern philosophies and outlooks on life. Together with our daughter, who was born in Lisbon in 2000, we very much enjoy relaxing beach holidays and trekking with stays in SAC huts.








Event partners:

Switzerland Tourism Swiss Care Lotteriefonds Kanton Bern Area of the Swiss Abroad Terre des Hommes Burgergemeinde Bern FDFA swissinfo.ch people2power Swiss Post Swiss Path Swiss Travel System City of Bern City of Bern Pro Patria Canton of Bern Swisscom iO soliswiss Zürcher Kantonalbank




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