The Coevoets Family

The Coevoets family in Glarus has wooden clogs - called "Klompern" - in front of their door as decoration. It's no coincidence. Jolanda and Anton Coevoets are Dutch. They met twelve years ago in Glarnerland and, after spending a year together in the Netherlands first, packed up their bits and pieces and emigrated to Switzerland.

Nor is it a coincidence that they were drawn to the foot of the Glärnisch. The 23-year-old hairdresser's love of mountains and adventure brought her to Glarnerland because she had found work there through an acquaintance.

"At first I was a bit skeptical – the mountains are already pretty close here," she remembers. Her husband Anton, who had been working in Bern for three years, had similar feelings: "At first it was hard to live in Glarnerland. Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau were still a considerable distance away in Bern," he says. But only to start with. Since then they have never regretted settling in Glarus. "The quality of life is outstanding, it's peaceful, and we have enough room. We just feel at home here."

By now there at not two, but five Coevoets. They live in their newly renovated house in the middle of a beautiful green landscape with their children Laurenz (7), Robbert (5), and Mauritz (3). "I'm so happy that our children can grow up in a safe place like this one. I can let them play outside without any worries." Jolanda doesn't take this for granted. "Our relatives in Holland can't imagine letting Robbert walk almost one kilometre to kindergarten by himself."

They've found a home in Glarnerland and want their boys to feel at home here too – one reason why all three have visited a crèche two days a week since they were babies. "They learn things there that I can't teach, things like customs, food and traditions," the mother of three says. Laurenz interrupts and explains eagerly: "For example Samichlaus. In Holland we have Sinterklaas, who comes on a ship. Of course that doesn't work in Switzerland, because it's so small here. That's why Sinterklaas rides on a horse from Holland to Switzerland to the people here."

Besides valuing integration, Jolanda doesn't want to give up her work as a hairdresser, which she practices two days a week in her own business. Her husband works as a nursing supervisor at the Letz home for the elderly in Näfels. "In Switzerland, it's not typical to have three children if both partners work. It's not always easy. You have to explain yourself pretty often. Organisation gets even more complicated because of differing starting and closing times."

Currently Mauritz visits the crèche in Schwanden, but will soon switch to Glarus because a place has opened up there. Robbert is in kindergarten five mornings a week. "And I'm in first year," Laurenz explains of his own volition. He's also in after-school care in Glarus on Fridays:  "Then I have school from seven thirty until ten thirty and then I have to go again from one thirty to three. I go to eat at after-school care in between." It's simpler in Holland with standardised school hours, Jolanda Coevoets says. But still:  "There's no question of going back. We're at home here."

Source: «Die Südostschweiz»