“ On this most special day “Helen Keller birthday” and Deafblind International week and Awarness, DbI youth network is inspired by Helen Keller with her approach to participate in new challenges and experiences. This was certainly reflected during the recent youth network event in Zurich”
The DbI Youth Network (DbIYN) held an event in Zurich, Switzerland during early June 2018. A series of activities were kindly funded through Tanne, the Swiss centre of competence for the Deafblind. Each day provided many opportunities for the young people to experience Swiss culture with their network friends.
As with previous youth network activities the event commenced with a guided city tour followed by sharing a meal together. Our tour guide Anne Maria paid careful attention to the entire group so each part of the tour agenda was accessible and tactile. The venue for the meal was the Zurich Zeughauskeller that served a range of traditional Swiss food.
Group photo during old city tour Jenny Gillies exploring a tactile door during the city tour
Ness Vlajkovic and Santeri Grönlund in conversation Jenny Gillies with Veera Lindvall
Our first full day started with a visit to the Zurich Thermalbad. These are a series of Roman style Spa baths that source pure spring water containing many valuable minerals. The rooftop pool overlooking the city bubbles away at 41 degrees centigrade! Feeling very relaxed the afternoon was spent on Zurich’s very own mountain, Uetilberg. The cable car ride to the mountain top was quite thrilling high above Lake Zurich. Switzerland is famous for many things one of which is Fondue. With pans full of hot cheese and pieces of bread we all sampled delicious fondue at the mountain restaurant. Again a very sensory experience!
Thomas, Santeri, Ness, Jenny and Ella on Mount Uetilberg Group photo on the mountain
Enjoying fondue on the mountain
The following day it was an early start as we took a boat trip along Lake Zurich. In beautiful sunny weather our destination was Kilchberg and the home of Lindt chocolate. We were all privileged to participate in a Lindt chocolate experience activity where our ‘chocolatier’ informed us about the process of making chocolate and some secrets about why Lindt chocolate tastes so good! Of course no chocolate experience is complete without a tasting session and everyone participated in eating many many samples of different types of chocolate. Before heading back on Lake Zurich we spent the afternoon swimming in the Lake as the temperature was very pleasant. During the evening we visited a bowling alley where everyone enjoyed some friendly competition as we bowled several full strikes and ate dinner.
Tesfaldet, Thomas, Jenny and Santeri with the Lindt Chocolatier
Santeri and Veera enjoy the Lindt chocolate experience
Santeri and Jenny on Lake Zurich
The final day of activities took us to the Swiss National Museum. The museum had prepared a special tactile tour, learning about Swiss culture, history and traditions. There was even an exhibition about Swiss food, with even more chocolate to sample! We said our goodbyes in the afternoon following lunch sat outside the museum restaurant. The temperature was so hot we needed the cover of the shade.
The Zurich event was enjoyed by all those who attended including young people, support staff and interpreters. The fact that we all used different languages and different methods of communication added to the enjoyment as the sense of achievement in making conversation made us all feel proud.
Santeri Grönlund a youth network member from Finland commented on his Zurich experience, “I enjoyed all the activities as they were all suitable for someone who is deafblind”
Jenny Gillies from the UK was attending her first youth network event and really enjoyed the visit to the Lindt factory, “The chef was great as he told us all about the process to make chocolate and all the different varieties. I tasted so much chocolate I couldn’t get to sleep that night. I made some new friends on the trip. I liked talking with Vanessa from Australia as there are lots of similarities between Auslan and British sign language. Learning some Finnish sign language was interesting and it meant I could talk with Santeri. I also made friends with Tesfaldet from Switzerland who told me all about his life and how he has managed to get a job”.
Drawing by youth network member Jenny Gillies
Vanessa Vlajkovic from Perth Western Australia also commented on her time in Zurich, “I met so many new and awesome people in Zurich. My favourite activity was the thermal spa, it was extremely relaxing and a brilliant way to just chill out while making friends. The young people that I met this time will forever be my friends and hopefully I will see them all again in the future for more events that DBIYN organises. All around a terrific trip”.
A very special thank you to Mirko Baur from Tanne for making the event happens and to Maya Streich also from Tanne who acted as our guide, whenever we became lost! The network is now planning its activities for 2019 hoping these will be as memorable as our time in Zurich
Simon Allison-Network Coordinator