Collection abc- Y is for Y’all, Youth and Years

Here is the “Y” installment of my abc collection. I choose three words and write something about them. I try to relate them to Switzerland or the Swiss or my life in Switzerland. “Y” is for y’all, youth and years.

is for “Y’all”

Y*all is singular. All y*all is plural.
All y*all*s is plural possessive.

A bit of southern grammar. Now, what in the world can this possibly have to do with Switzerland? Saying hello to people the correct way, singular and plural.

A few years ago, at a party, I met a Canadian who worked at an embassy there in Berne. A smart, enthusiastic kind of guy. He hadn’t been in Switzerland long but was working hard on learning the language. He loved the way that certain words or groups of words in Bernese German had this sing-song sound. He especially like the sound of “Gruessech mitanand” [Hello everyone – somewhat akin to a formal all y’all].

He was well aware this was something you said only when greeting a group of people who you didn’t know. Nonetheless he loved saying it and did so every appropriate and not-so-appropriate chance he had. Whether walking into a room with one person who he knew well or walking into a room filled with people. They all got greeted the same way; Gruessech mitanand!

When he told us that we all laughed and talked about it for 15 or 20 minutes. So, not only did he get to say something he enjoyed saying, he also used it as a conversation starter. Like I said, a smart kind of guy.

is for Youth

Unfortunately, very few governments think about youth unemployment when they are drawing up their national plans.
~ Kofi Annan

Compared to the States, Switzerland has a very good system for turning school-kids into qualified employees; it’s called apprenticeships. In the 9th grade you decide what road you want to take. You can go the route of a practical apprenticeship, like carpenter, plumber, secretary or printer. Or, if your grades allow it, study longer.

If you choose an apprentice then you write applications to (sometimes many) businesses in your chosen field. Once you have secured an apprenticeship you work there. At the same time you go to a vocational school once or twice a week. An apprentice lasts 2 to 4 years, depending on the field and level of skill you want to achieve.

Once you have passed all your finals you are ready to present yourself on the job-market. For Switzerland it’s all about qualifying people.

The latest youth unemployment rates in Switzerland actually shrank to 3.3%. There were a few more than 20,000 unemployed youths between the age of 15 to 24. That may sound like a lot but last year in America the youth unemployment was hovering around 11.5%. That puts around 2.6 million youths out of work.

But there are still 3.3% Swiss youths who are unemployed. I remember my husband telling me how once, when he was sitting in on a 10th grade class, they were learning to fill out unemployment papers. How sad to think these people had finished an extra year of school and still couldn’t find work. It certainly didn’t do a lot for their self-esteem.

is for years

Do not just count your years, make your years count.
~ George Meredith

In the beginning of the year, Swiss radio gave a prize for the ”Everyday Hero” in 2016. These are volunteers who work for the good of the general public. These are people who work without wanting or needing to stand in the limelight. Over 200 people were nominated for this honor and a jury picked three finalists.

One is the coach of a soccer team for physical and mental handicapped boys and men. All the team members are able to share their love for the sport. The coach says it’s not all about sport but inclusion.

Two were nominated together for a project they started as teachers for refugees. The school is for refugees in the middle of their asylum procedures and aren’t allowed to go to school. It is run completely by volunteers. The idea is that these people will have a head start in becoming integrated if they receive asylum.

The third nominated person is a “waste diver” or perhaps a “water garbage man”. He and his group of divers want to rid all the Swiss waters, lakes and shores of waste and garbage. Since he began doing this 6 years ago he and his other volunteer divers have picked up and disposed of 300 tons of trash.

The public voted the “waste diver” as the winner, but if you ask me, all were and still are worthy. It may seem like these people are bigger than life but they are just making their years count. You don’t have to be bigger than life to be an everyday hero, even little things count.

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