A suitcase of Romansh ideas delivered to the Federal Palace

21 February 2022 marks the start of Romansh Language Week ('Emna rumantscha'), an initiative launched last year by the FDFA in cooperation with the Canton of Graubünden and the Lia Rumantscha. Twelve pupils from the secondary schools of Savognin and Scuol travelled to Bern at the invitation of the president of the Swiss Confederation with a suitcase of ideas for promoting the Romansh language and culture in Switzerland and abroad.

President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis with the pupils of Scuol and Savognin.

The pupils from Scuol and Savognin kicked off the "Emna rumantscha" together with Ignazio Cassis and passed the baton to the Swiss representations abroad. © Keystone

This article is also available in Romansh

The twelve boys and girls, aged between 14 and 16, are speakers of Surmiran and Vallader – two of the five varieties of Romansh. They received a special invitation to meet the Swiss president, Ignazio Cassis, in Bern to inaugurate with him the second edition of Romansh Language Week. The delegation of young Romansh language ambassadors arrived in Bern by train on 20 February. The date wasn't chosen at random: Romansh became an official national language on 20 February 1938. They disembarked on platform five, carrying a particular piece of luggage which was marked quite clearly: 'valisch rumantscha' (Romansh suitcase). It was to be delivered to the Federal Palace. 

A suitcase of Romansh ideas brimming with plurality

'Rumantsch: in ferm toc Svizra' (an essential part of Switzerland). But also of the world. This is the motto the FDFA is using to promote Romansh Language Week in cooperation with the Canton of Graubünden. How can the Romansh language and culture be made better known in Switzerland? How to present it abroad? The young people brought their answers to these questions to the attention of the Swiss president and the head of Graubünden's Department of Education and Culture, Jon Domenic Parolini. 

Romansh is... an essential part of Switzerland and the world! Romansh Language Week provides an opportunity to talk about the plurality that characterises our country.

‘Cohesion and passion for plurality: it is on this strength that our country must focus to meet every challenge. The young people of Savognin and Scuol demonstrate this: our plurality gives rise to innovative ideas, which also set us apart abroad,’ said Cassis.
By handing over the 'valisch rumantscha' in Bern, the young people from Savognin and Scuol kicked off the thematic week and handed over the baton to the Swiss representations abroad. 

Continuity of the initiative: the commitment of Switzerland's representations

A network of consulates and embassies have been taking steps to promote knowledge of the Romansh language and culture in their respective countries within the confines of the conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular by means of online meetings and digital content. From a music playlist entitled 'Emna rumantscha' and the sharing of a documentary on Not Vital in New York, to recipe videos and interviews with representatives of language and culture from Vancouver to Frankfurt: Romansh Language Week does not encompass just one week, but, together with other thematic weeks such as Italian Language Week, provides an opportunity to promote the plurality that sets our country apart. Last October, for instance, Romansh took the stage along with 21 other languages at the Dante Marathon Reading in Addis Abeba, thanks to an initiative by the Swiss embassy in Ethiopia. Next May, the Swiss consulate general in Milan is planning an event on the links between Romansh and Ladin, in collaboration with the Lia Rumantscha.

FDFA staff members are also personally committed: more than 140 people from various countries joined an online Romansh course offered by the FDFA this week. Thanks to the 'valisch rumantscha' of the young people of Scuol and Savognin, there are plenty of opportunities to find out more about this national language and to already start thinking about 20 February 2023.

FDFA and multilingualism: collaboration with the cantons of Graubünden and Ticino

The promotion of minority languages in Switzerland is also part of the structured, ongoing political dialogue that the head of the FDFA is conducting with the cantons of Graubünden and Ticino. This exchange has also given rise to the 'Mini Erasmus' initiative, which offers staff from the three administrations the opportunity to spend a few months on an exchange from the Federal Administration to a cantonal institution, or vice versa. A personal and professional immersion in Switzerland's plurality.

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