Interview with LiLi Centre member Prof. Jillaine Farrar

The LiLi Centre is a community centre in Lucerne. Our mission is the successful integration of internationally minded residents into Swiss society by providing support, a local community, and other important resources in order to help them connect, grow and thrive. We are happy that in our community we also have people who are supporting both our purpose and vision.

Prof. Jillaine Farrar is one of them. She is a professor at the Hochschule Luzern and co-head of the CAS International Leadership programme which is sponsoring our event “Integration Puzzle: Challenges and Opportunities”.

We decided that the best way to say thank you for supporting us is by letting others know more about the people who are around us and care about our organisation’s mission.

Welcome on board Jillaine! Thank you for taking part in this interview and ,of course, for your ongoing support of our Community Centre. 

Thanks for inviting me to this interview. I am impressed by all that Lili Centre offers to the community and how it acts as a cultural bridge for both newcomers to Central Switzerland and long-term residents in the area.   

LiLi Centre is more than a community centre. I think of it as a combination of an international networking place, an integration project, a location for a wide range of community courses and events, a living library, and a place to meet new friends. 

It acts as a cultural bridge for local and international members of the community. People who would otherwise likely never be brought together, have the opportunity to meet. I know I have already met several new people at Lili Centre whom I now consider friends. 

I imagine the locals and long-term residents already know how great Lili Centre is, but I think especially the international employees of Central Swiss companies and their families could benefit from becoming aware of all that LiLi Centre offers. 

I learned very quickly that in Switzerland you should be part of local associations if you want to become more integrated and feel at home here. LiLi Centre offers that link.   

Why are you interested in international and intercultural topics?

International is a part of my life. I was born in Vancouver, Canada and moved to Switzerland in 1989. My family is located in both Switzerland and Canada. I studied at the University of Manchester in GB and graduated with a Master in Education. In addition to the international experience gained from working in various international companies in Switzerland and taking continuing-education programs such as the IDI, my international exchange work and lecturing at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts-Business has provided a solid basis to launch the taught-in-English CAS International Leadership together with my colleague Dr Ingo Stolz. This is not just a milestone for our university; it also allows me to share my passion for international and intercultural.  

How do you bring your passion for international and intercultural across?

I have various hats on in life so there are several answers to that question. 

As a lecturer, I try to be sensitive to the needs of local students, international students and exchange students. Of course, I am working within a structured system, but I try to help students to work together, to encourage them to be aware of possible intercultural obstacles and, most importantly, to respect each other regardless of possible differences.  

As head of the exchange program at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Business, I work with colleagues from partner universities around the world to make exchange semesters possible for students. It is really rewarding when students become more aware of other cultures and, hopefully, move from ethnocentrism towards ethnorelativism. It was after taking various further-education courses myself that I had the terminology to express the positive changes I was seeing in my own students after their study abroad experiences. 

In my role as co-head of our CAS International Leadership (, I advocate that the international dimension needs to be experienced in person. This is why we offer well-designed opportunities for international learning in this executive-education program, both in Switzerland and abroad. And since we strive to make learning concrete, our assignments reflect an experienced-based and practical approach. (The next information session is on Tuesday, 9 April 2019 in Lucerne. Register for a complimentary info session via )

And finally, there is another hat that I also proudly have on. As a mother to a now teenager I try to encourage our son to embrace the world. Learning multiple languages is a start, of course, but there is so much more. Creating opportunities for him to appreciate international cultures while still getting to know his own Swiss and Canadian cultures is a main goal. Holiday time is one way we do this, both within Switzerland and abroad. Regularly attending services at the Anglican church in Zurich which serves English speakers from all over the world is another. Also the local soccer club has turned out to be a door opener for intercultural communication and team work. Moreover, the dinner table discussions in our home, of which he is an important part, cover a broad range of international and local topics.  

Whether at work or at home, I try to help others along their intercultural journey. Realistically, I am continuously learning just as much myself whenever I help someone else.

Last but not least question… Why do you think people should come to the “Integration Puzzle: Challenges and Opportunities” event?

Integration is important for all of us in all parts of our lives, regardless of where we come from and what paths our careers or family lives have taken. Sure, there are challenges, and it can seem a bit like juggling sometimes, but there are truly also many opportunities. The LiLi Centre panel discussion on 17 April will address exactly this integration puzzle. I am really looking forward to it. 

Thank you for your time and we are looking forward to seeing you on April 17th!

Great, thank you very much for the interview! See you again soon. 

Join Our Newsletter

Scroll to Top