“We encourage our candidates to look over the rim and to engage in unforgettable positive experiences out there in the world.”
Weltweitblick Experiment Switzerland
Weltweitblick Experiment Switzerland is a Swiss not-for-profit organization, founded in 2009. The organization operates from Zürich in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and strives to provide a forum for people interested in intercultural learning, study and volunteer abroad, high school exchange and high school group travel.
“My personal connection with the Experiment goes back to my childhood in Germany,” says Manager and Board Chair, Martina Schmitz. “My parents served as a host family and then I participated in the Ambassador Program to the US after my highschool graduation.”
“It shaped my life,” said Martina. “I decided to study in the US and returned several times for extended periods, and even wrote my thesis there.”
While earning her doctoral degree, Martina lived in the International House of New York, which she quotes as: “Another stepping stone of my life.”
It was there that Martina met her Swiss husband, and several years later moved to Zurich.
“The first thing I thought when I arrived was: I must bring the Experiment here.”
20 years later, she did.
Over the past three years, Experiment Switzerland has successfully launched three websites in three languages and sent over 150 volunteers abroad.
“Today, to go abroad as a volunteer means to travel responsibly,” says Martina. “We make our candidates aware of intercultural topics, developmental and environmental issues, and of stereotypes of tourists traveling around the world–only never to arrive within a culture.”
“Our volunteers have the chance to get to know a foreign country and its people from within,” she says: “To dive into a new culture, to immerse in unknown territory. So strangers turn into friends!”
Weltweitblick Experiment Switzerland believes that intercultural exchange contributes to international understanding; and successful volunteering produces responsible global citizens.
“Switzerland is a multicultural and multilingual country located in the heart of Europe,” explains Martina. “Sometimes, though, we feel like we are on an island. We consider this a chance and a challenge! We encourage our candidates to look over the rim and to engage in unforgettable positive experiences out there in the world.”
(This post was adapted, in part, from About Our Institution: Federation EIL – Collective Histories, edited by Alvino Fantini.)
About Dr. Martina Schmitz, founding Manager of weltweitblick Experiment Switzerland. Born in Cologne, Germany, Martina studied art history and specialized in the origins of record cover design in the 1930s. After her undergraduate work at William & Mary and her graduate work at University of Cologne, she returned to New York to research her doctoral thesis. Once back in Europe, she worked in the porcelain industry as product manager and later as shop designer for department stores in Germany and Switzerland. She later opened her own consulting business and raised a family. 10 years later, she returned to the University to study academic writing. In 2009, she finally found her destiny and opened weltweitblick Experiment Switzerland!