Ignazio Cassis goes back to school in Glion
A stop in Val Surselva for Ignazio Cassis, the head of the FDFA. Twelve pupils of the secondary school of Glion will welcome Mr Cassis to their classroom on 21 June 2021. They themselves were the ones to invite him, following up on the Emna rumantscha (Romansh Language Week) that the FDFA launched last February. The message is clear: Romansh, like the other national languages, is 'in ferm toc Svizra' – an essential part of Switzerland.
Ignazio Cassis visited Glion as part of the Romansh Language Week initiative. © FDFA
"Federal Councillor, would you be willing to learn Romansh?" The question was posed by Glion pupils Arina Bertogg and Nina Kreuz during the online event held in February this year during the first Romansh Language Week. "Sure, if you invite me to Val Surselva!" replied Cassis. The pupils of Surselva wasted no time; they filmed a digital invitation and sent it off to Bern with just one click. A date for Destination Surselva was found in the tight schedule of the Federal Councillor – 21 June 2021.
In ferm toc Svizra – an essential part of Switzerland
The day of the trip comes, falling squarely in their last week of schooling before the summer holidays. A special guest enters the classroom of the 15 and 16-year-olds. A welcome song and a linguistic-culinary reception give the Federal Councillor a taste of the Sursilvan idiom and of the culture of the region, followed by some time for questions about his daily work. The multilingual dialogue mixes Romansh, German and Italian. "I didn't even have to think about whether or not to take you up on your offer to come here; I knew it would be a pleasure to see how Romansh is flourishing in Switzerland today thanks to you," Cassis confides to the class, adding: "You show us that multilingualism is the future. Switzerland must continue to foster its linguistic landscape. Going back to school and learning from you is one way to do that." The head of the FDFA then explains that his exploration of Romansh will continue in July, when he will attend a Romansh language course in Scuol. He also lets the teenagers in on some ideas for the next edition of the Romansh Language Week, scheduled to start on 20 February 2022.
Intercultural dialogue and diplomacy
The conviction that promoting intercultural dialogue is right at the heart of Swiss diplomacy spurred Cassis to launch the Romansh Language Week initiative, which premièred in February 2021 and whose joint organisation with the Canton of Graubünden also drew in numerous Swiss representations abroad. The FDFA aims to capitalise on this initiative to promote Switzerland's cultural diversity, which represents an added value both within the country and in the international arena.
Promoting the minority languages in Switzerland is also one of the priorities of the structured political dialogue that the head of the FDFA conducts with the Canton of Graubünden and the Canton of Ticino, as well as with the Italian-speaking members of the Council of States and the National Council.