As the maxim says, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
Interview with Pierre de Cocatrix: CAGI and the international private sector
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In the grounds of the, Villa La Pastorale, close to the Place des Nations, Ambassador Pierre de Cocatrix, Director of the Welcome Center of the International Geneva (CAGI) outlines the activities of the organization.
As the head of the CAGI since 2015, Pierre de Cocatrix is proud of the valuable and unique service CAGI offers.
Founded in 1996 by the Confederation and the Republic and Canton of Geneva, CAGI’s mission “is to facilitate the installation and integration in the Geneva and Lemanic region of international civil servants, members of permanent missions, consulates, NGOs, multinational corporations as well as their families.”
Specifically, CAGI offers:
- a newcomers Network
- housing and information
- event, communication and a cultural kiosk
- NGO support
- and a delegates welcome service.
Evolution of the Mandate : support for all Internationals
Initially, CAGI focus was towards employees at the international organizations, international non-governmental organizations, diplomatic missions and consulates.
de Cocatrix explains that the original mandate has expanded over time. Services are now also offered to multinational corporations, doctoral students and professors at University Hospitals (HUG), and at the University (UNIGE) in Geneva. These groups represent a new category that CAGI considers as international ’employees.’
How it works in practice is that CAGI receives the list of new internationals arriving in Geneva for work and sends them the appropriate information. Thanks to a partnership with the Group of Multinational Enterprises (GEM), the Newcomers Network Service (NNS) was set up so that expatriates – those who stay between six months or many years – can use the services.
In 2017, the NNS received a request for 220 Welcome Kits and de Cocatrix is understandably satisfied with this collaboration and that participation is increasing.
The Services offered
The Newcomer Network Service works with many volunteers to help newcomers and their families to discover Geneva, integrate better and create links with other expatriates.
The Service offers excursions to discover Geneva and the Lake Geneva region. The guided tours and excursions program are monthly and these are usually held on Saturdays to allow all family members to participate.
The lunchtime conferences are an opportunity to discover the practical, social and cultural life of Geneva throughout the year. They are followed by an informal buffet lunch in the presence of the speakers and members of the Welcome Network.
Employees of multinational enterprises are welcome and can benefit from services except for the housing service, as multinationals already have their own specialized structure to help expatriates find housing.
Regarding the participation rate in the activities of members of the international private sector, it depends on the program, but even if they are not numerous, Pierre de Cocatrix is delighted to have always more representatives at each event.
Finally, another service that can be used by the Internationals is the Conversation Exchange Program, with about 1300 participants, which is open to all, international and residents. The program is free and allows you to find a partner with whom to exchange your language skills. It is not an alternative to the language courses given by schools, but it is surely a complement to this one.
The Director has very clear ideas for this year. CAGI wants to make 2018 the year of COMMUNICATION. Since April, a Service has been created to improve the communication, recast and update the website and increase the visitors’ rate which was 1,500 million last year.
The main objective of CAGI is to make the website more visible, readable, understandable and more operational, with a version in both French and English.
We will have to wait until early 2019 to discover the new site with a new CAGI logo.
Overall, Pierre de Cocatrix and his collaborators want to maintain the visibility and notoriety acquired by CAGI during all these years. CAGI must remain the recognized first tool of international Geneva. The credo of the Director is that all categories of International can learn about the CAGI, the benefits offered and learn if necessary.
We also want to help young people, who are confronted with practical questions that they do not have an answer to.
International Geneva is developing and evolving. Cosmopolitan Geneva is a reality. CAGI is here to make life easier for the international community living in Geneva and the Lemanic region.
Expats are kindly asked to contact the CAGI directly to receive the program. For all information, visit: https://www.cagi.ch/en/home.php
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Photo credit: CAGI