The new association ‘The Glocal’ aims to promote the mental health of "global locals" in the canton of Zug.
Originally published by the Zuger Zeitung on 29 December 2022.
People often think that expats are very wealthy, come to Switzerland for jobs in high positions and live the high life. The truth, however, is different," says Janet Prince from England, who, together with her colleagues Niki Tucker from South Africa and Stephanie Mateo from Australia, founded The Glocal, an association for "global locals" in Zug. The three women refer to their community members as glocals because they find the term expats pejorative.
Niki Tucker, Janet Prince and Stephanie Mateo (from left) founded The Glocal to fill a gap in support from the expat community. Image: Matthias Jurt (Zug, December 9, 2022) .
They have set the goal of their newly founded association to work for the psychological well-being of glocals. "I have worked as a breastfeeding counsellor with young mothers and loneliness is the biggest challenge for families. Feeling lost, difficulty feeling at home, depression and 'not belonging' are some of the most common issues" explains 57-year-old Prince, who has lived in Zug for fifteen years, and became Swiss 4 years ago.
Through her work she met 36-year-old Tucker, who has lived in Küssnacht am Rigi for the last seven years, and 33-year-old Mateo, who has lived in Neuheim for five years. All three women had to deal with the pitfalls of being a newcomer.
The association's vision is to develop a "Glocal Centre" as a contact point for newcomers and locals who are looking for friendship, information and education. "A place providing prevention and early intervention strategies for people who have difficulties settling in or need additional support” Prince continues. Not every family finds the transition easy. Mateo and her two-and-a-half-year-old son, for example, did not. "My husband had to work and I to take care of him alone. I felt very lonely." She did not yet understand the language and did not know where to look for help for newcomers. "My husband had a lot of support from his company during the transition, but our son and I were not very involved. I think that is something that is probably lacking at other large international companies as well," says Mateo. Shortly afterwards she became pregnant and after the birth fell into a postnatal depression. "However, I found the strength to write in a Facebook group for expats about how lonely I was feeling, but many don't find the courage to do this," Mateo finds. She also knows families who have gone back to their country, because the transition was too difficult.
Tucker also experienced something similar: "I didn't have a child when I moved, but my husband worked two weeks in Zug and two weeks away from home. So for two weeks at a time, I was alone in an unfamiliar country without speaking the local language or knowing anyone."
In the evenings I waited for my husband like a little puppy, because I had not spoken a word with anyone the whole day.
Tucker continues. For her husband, the situation was also stressful, as he was with people all day long and just wanted to be left alone in the evening.
The Glocal wants to take away fears
All three women do not wish these feelings on anyone and want to help like-minded people through their association. They have already started up five different groups and meet regularly to exchange ideas.
"We have a group which focus on mental health, a group for pregnant women and new parents, a mothers' group, a children's group 'Story and Strength' and a group for women going through menopause," Prince lists. At the moment they still meet in the in the Freiruum and other cafés, but they are looking for their own premises. Prince: "We would like to have a more private setting as sometimes it gets very emotional."
The Englishwoman has done a course as a psychological counsellor. In the case of major problems, she refers people to psychologists who speak English or other languages. "Here too there are not enough services for for newcomers," says Prince. The Glocal has teamed up with a psychologist and the Fachstelle for Migration Zug (FMZ). "Our goal is to prevent Glocals from having to make use of clinical services," Prince continues.
Tucker continues: "Zug already offers many good contact points for newcomers. However, when it comes to psychological support for glocals it becomes more difficult." Not everyone has the courage or strength to learn German, either or does not dare to start up conversations.
"We want to take away these fears and show the glocals, how beautiful and open Zug is." Prince adds.
This article has been translated and republished from its original source at the Zuger Zeitung. The original article can be found here.
The Glocal would like to extend a big thank you to Tijana Nikolic for taking the time to sit with The Glocal team and discuss our mission and goals; and for giving us the opportunity to share with the local swiss community via the Zuger Zeitung.