We started the day off at the community project of Pro Senectute, known as Rellsten-Zopf-Oberleimbach, where we learned about elderly integration and how they integrate with the community around them. Ruedi and Soraja mentioned some of the opportunities they provide for the residents that participate in the program – knitting classes, language classes, gardening, etc. The agency we visited works with two different generations, the young and the old. In this agency, their groups consist of 25 to 30 members regularly; ages ranging from 50 to 90. In order to get the word out about the project, they provide newsletters every three months for households 55 or older. This program is free and they don’t have to live in the district.
The biggest similarity between these organizations is that they are strongly based on the fact that they should integrate the community with elderly care. In comparison to the United States we focus more on the housing first model, which means we place clients into housing-first and then provide them with services. The students gave presentations regarding homelessness, community development, and sociocultural animation in America and Switzerland. We learned that Switzerland has a strong and growing sociocultural animation where they work along the field with community centers and open youth work; whereas, the United States does not work as closely with the community/development, but more with agencies.
In the second agency, OJA, there main focus is to give youth safe alternatives to hang out and be children. OJA works with schools, churches, youth workers in town as well as other agencies or organizations. OJA has a close bond with the local policeman to maintain peace and good communication with the residents, community, and the youth. OJA has an open door policy for the youth where they can come in and ask questions about activities and work around the area. They are also allowed a key in order to hangout “after hours.” OJA has eight centers in Switzerland and the agency is free of charge. The members consist of 60% boys and 40% girls.
While at the agency Marco and his colleague took us on a tour of the youth’s hangout spots and brought in a youth member who informed us about his impressions of the agency. Compared to the United States, the U.S. does not offer many options for youth when it comes to having free space or even free activities.
After visiting the agencies and watching presentations, our group was invited to Jessica’s (Swiss student) for a social gathering/BBQ. We had delicious food, great company, and made long lasting memories.