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Broadcasts in Sydney keep Swiss in touch with home

Ursula Schäppi enjoys the good life in Sydney

Ursula Schäppi arrived in Sydney, Australia, over 30 years ago and took an instant liking to it.

From her balcony, the Graubünden-born Schäppi looks out over Sydney Harbour, a panorama that includes the bridge and opera house. “My apartment’s small but it has a great view!”

Her big hobby is radio. She is responsible for the Swiss programme at SBS, a multicultural station that offers broadcasts in German. “This work means that I can always stay in touch a bit with my old home.”

Every Sunday between 8 and 9 p.m., Schäppi sits at the microphone and provides the Swiss community in Sydney with news from the old country. She also passes on tips to the Swiss about events in Sydney that might be of interest to them. Though the job takes a lot of time, it is one she enjoys immensely.

Cherished neighbourhood

Thirty-four years ago, she arrived as an immigrant in Australia just a stone’s throw away from where she now lives. Her voyage on a mail ship took her via Panama and lasted 13 weeks.

She cherishes the setting where she has lived for so long.

“The Harbour still fascinates me, even to this day,” Schäppi says. “I wanted to live here even when this part of the city was still considered a run-down working-class neighbourhood.”

As time passed, the district became trendy. Now, the area around MacMahons Point is one of the most desirable residential areas in Sydney.

An independent life

In 1974, Ursula Schäppi and her Swiss husband divorced after seven years of marriage. She set about making a fresh start on her own.

“In those days things were much easier for immigrants than they are today,” Ursula Schäppi recalls. The Australian government helped newcomers – especially women – with training and further education.

Schäppi, who had trained as a post office telegraphist, studied psychology as a mature student at university.

She now works as an ombudswoman in the private health insurance sector.

But the radio broadcasts and the incomparable view of the harbour enrich her life in Australia, where she has chosen to remain for more than three decades.

Christian Messerli, Sydney

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR