The International Organization for Migration (IOM) defines integration as the process of  “mutual adaptation between host society and migrant. It implies a sense of obligation and respect for a core set of values that bind migrants and their host communities to a common purpose.”   Similarly, intercultural psychologists argue that people integrate best when they participate in the local community whilst maintaining contact with members of their own culture.

Over the last five years, the way foreigners in Lucerne connect and interact has changed dramatically. Through the various international clubs and associations as well as online platforms such as LivinginLuzern, the international community is now better connected than ever. The latter has helped us to identify pressing needs, gaps, and integration challenges. It has also reminded us of the importance of coordinating efforts, identifying synergies, and collaborating on joint projects in order to better serve the needs of the international residents of Lucerne.

Striking a balance between maintaining close ties with fellow individuals of similar cultural backgrounds whilst developing strong ties in our local community is challenging. Volunteer work can help in this context. Volunteers are critical participants in societies throughout the world. Volunteering can not only help someone develop new skills, improve employability, strengthen their German language skills and provide fulfilling and meaningful experiences but it can also  help strengthen one’s integration into the local community and supports the development of those important links with local people and the wider society.


Lucerne is the home to a large number of international residents whose skills, work and life experiences often go unrecognized and underutilized. The main objective of SIVO is to support the process of integrating international residents through volunteer work by providing them with opportunities to make a positive contribution to their communities as well as to acquire new social, professional and German language skills.

Specific Objectives

to create a platform

for an honest dialogue among locals and international residents about the value of volunteer work for the integration process and the need to create the necessary mechanisms that make the participation of qualified foreigners possible

to help volunteers

to find opportunities where they can make a contribution in their communities and build stronger relationships with locals in the process

to facilitate the learning

of new social and professional skills which can be applied elsewhere

to facilitate the integration

of international newcomers by connecting them with a volunteer who can answer questions about life in a neighborhood and familiarize them with all that the immediate community has to offer

to help local organizations

tap into a culturally diverse and rich human resource readily available to volunteer their time and skills.

to create the opportunity for volunteers

to use and improve their German language skills in different professional settings