Last week I had two wonderful presentations in Switzerland, as a “capstone” to my Fulbright research in the country. I was invited to speak at the United States Embassy in Bern on Thursday, June 14, 2012, to a small group of about 20 guests. The event took place at the Deputy Chief of Mission’s residence, Ms. Susan Elbow. Laura’s photos were displayed at the event, in addition to some photo books she put together of people and places from my research. The event was a success, and everyone loved the photos, film, and presentation. I was complimented a few times on my presentation skills and understanding of the subject. I had been told by a fellow historian that I would never feel satisfied with a 30 minute presentation of my work, because it doesn’t really give me enough time to delve into the complexities and amount of information I’ve learned and collected on this subject. She was right, but the guests were happy and the event was deemed successful by the Embassy staff, etc. Ambassador Beyer was there, as well as Alex Daniels and Alex Sigrist from the staff, and of course Susan Elbow. Laura’s photos were a great addition to the presentation, and I was very glad to have them there. Also, Antoine Paley’s film that he made of the testimonies was incredibly moving, and I’m glad it was included, as well. Claudine and Pierre were there from the Jewish Community, and as my “family”, and also many professors, Embassy staff, and others. There was a delicious lunch afterward, and I got to chat personally with Susan, the Ambassador, and other guests.
We then went from an exhausting 6 hours in Bern to the Centre Communitaire in Lausanne, where we were scheduled to present at 20h30. The room was beautiful, on the third floor of the old community building, and a nice buffet was set up. Laura set up the large photos and the books, and I set up the computer and projector. About 10 of my own guests came, including Jessica, Stefan, Lucie, Florian, Christine Blatti from EVAM, Claire, Raymond Weill, and some others. Many people from the community were there, including Nika, Michou, Suzy, David, Alain, Yosef, and Lionel, the rabbi. It was a great lecture and everyone seemed to have learned something. I gained some feedback which was helpful, as well, for my next presentations in NYC and DC this year. I presented a gift to the community as a thank you, a small photo book of Laura’s photos, taken of the synagogue, and Lionel and everyone else really appreciated it. I gave the presentation in English with David translating, but I did answer the questions in French. That small part gave me the confidence that I could have done the whole presentation in French, but for now the Q&A was enough. Overall, it was an incredibly successful day. I was told that it’s hard to get people to come to an event in the community, so to have 40 people in attendance was a big accomplishment. I am very pleased overall, and now have some ideas for moving forward. Photos to follow!