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AIWCabsenteevoting

Do you have questions about how to register for the 2020 elections? Would you like to get an early jump on receiving your ballot? What if you have never lived in the US? Or perhaps, you wonder if your absentee vote makes a difference in an election’s outcome?

An estimated 9 million Americans live abroad, and Switzerland is home to about 20,000. Few Americans exercise their right to vote while living outside of the US, but there are good reasons to make the effort. As the 2020 primaries are right around the corner, it’s a good idea to register as soon as possible. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to add voter registration to your annual New Year to-do list, as most states require you to register and request your ballot every year you intend to vote.

Will your vote make a difference?

Absentee votes have decided the outcome in several recent races for federal/gubernatorial office, including Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina (2016), Senator Maggie Hasson of New Hampshire (2016), and Ohio Rep. Troy Balderson (2018).

And, as always, your vote is your voice. If Americans abroad choose not to vote, then issues that directly affect them are not addressed by lawmakers. Double taxation is a perennial issue that many Americans would like to see modified, for example.

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Who doesn't like a board game? One of my favorites is Scrabble, although I'm not very good at it. I have memories of my parents pulling out the dictionary and arguing about the meaning of the words (or rather whether the word was allowed). Somehow my mother was always right! When I heard that there was a new Scrabble group starting up in 2016, I jumped at the opportunity to meet with other like-minded people. I caught up with Aurea Fagel, the president of the Swiss English-language Scrabble Association (SESA) to talk to her about it.

Why did you start the Scrabble Association SESA?
After coming from a Scrabble Championship Tournament, Kévin Meng and I realized that there was no existing club or association in Switzerland that organize English Scrabble. Therefore we wanted to create the very first Swiss English-Language Scrabble Association (SESA) in the country to spur interest as well as discover and meet people who share the passion for the game. With the help of our dear friends (Dave, Vicky, Sue, Bill, Anne-laure, Jaqueline, Benoit, Hugo) we met and formed SESA one September evening in 2016. SESA is the official English Scrabble Association in the country, officially recognized by the Swiss Scrabble Federation as well as WESPA, the world governing body for English Scrabble.

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ESCA PFCS PIC 2

ESCA Paddle for CancerSupport, first launched in 2007, is an annual cancer awareness and fundraising event and brings together both the local and international communities to work together to help cancer patients and their loved ones directly. Cancer awareness is vital and can bring hope to what seems like an insurmountable challenge. The more that people are aware of cancer risks, the more likely they are to seek early screening, such as colonoscopies and mammograms. Early detection of cancer can dramatically increase survival rates. Awareness can also encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles, reducing their chances of getting cancer.

Ramona Azarnia got involved in early 2018, "I decided to do volunteer work in the Geneva area and chose ESCA CancerSupport as I am acutely aware of the impact of cancer since witnessing a dear friend battle it. As I was searching for charitable causes, I came across ESCA CancerSupport. I admire and respect the people who have created this organization and are passionate to provide support to those who need and want it."

Benefits of getting involved
The main fundraising event for this assocation is the Paddle for CancerSupport Dragon Boat Festival. The money donated by each team goes directly towards supporting ESCA CS’s mission:

  • support clients who are undergoing the rigors of cancer treatment by professional counselling and trained peer support volunteers
  • offer help to patients’ loved ones
  • assist those in bereavement
  • provide information and resources
  • increase awareness by staffing stalls, giving talks, and representing ESCA CS at various community events

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Volunteers are also very welcome!

Some of the most popular sections of the Know-it-all passport guidebook are those which relate to children’s activities, especially weekly classes and camps. Whenever we receive information on a new club, we like to post details on our Activities Calendar for Kids as soon as possible, and in all the excitement we sometimes forget to mention those clubs that have been with us for years!  

One organization, which has been operating in this region for over 50 years is the Geneva Girl Scouts. Originally known as “Troops on Foreign Soil”, this group now falls under the banner of USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO), and currently has about 200 Girl Scouts and volunteers.

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The Geneva Writers Group (GWG) has just announced the launch of a new series of free workshops for teenagers, aged 13 to 18. The workshops will be held at Wall Street English on the Rue Michel-Roset in Geneva, and will take place monthly, on a Saturday from 10h to 11h15.

'Where do Ideas Come From?' will be the topic of the first workshop, which will be led by exciting new author, Nicholas Grey. A young adult fiction and fantasy writer, Nicholas has recently published The Wastelanders and The Lightbearer, as well as some short stories, and has a number of works in progress. Visit his website for more information : www.nicholasgrey.org.

Subsequent workshops will be taught by Nicholas and two other authors: Jason Donald, whose debut novel Choke Chain took the literary world by storm in 2009; and young adult writer, Katie Hayoz, whose books explore the paranormal.