Nico Luchsinger, Executive Director
Nico has been working with Asia Society Switzerland since its inception in 2016 – as Head of Programming, Co-Executive Director, and since April 2021 as sole Executive Director. A medieval historian by training (really), he previously worked for Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, founded the global entrepreneurial community Sandbox, and ran business development for Swiss startup Mila. When not working, he enjoys bouldering, baking bread, or exploring Zurich’s playgrounds with his kids.
- Favorite book on Asia: Still Wish Lanterns by Alec Ash, on young Chinese. Well-written. Doesn’t create a larger narrative, instead focuses on people. Bonus –can be read in an afternoon.
- Favorite Asian food-related Youtube channel: Chinese Cooking Demystified. I get hungry just from watching that.
- Favorite Asia podcast: There are too many. Email me for a list of favorites.
Serena Jung, Program and Communications Director
Before joining Asia Society Switzerland in 2018 as Program Manager, Serena was an editor and producer for the two magazines, Schweizer Monat and Literarischer Monat (RIP). There, she was in charge of visual development of all products; conducted interviews with authors, artists, and politicians; reviewed books (fiction), wrote reportages, and lead special issues on the South Caucasus – returning to Georgia still ranks high on one of her many to-do-lists. Serena studied language and literature, philosophy and history in both Zurich and Berlin, and, very shortly, Korean at Yonsei University in Seoul.
- Favorite Korean dish: Bibimbap with all the care that goes into chopping, cooking and assorting of every single vegetable, just to mix it all up once the egg has fulfilled the finishing touches.
- Favorite Asian book (as of the last year-ish): Yoko Tawada’s The Emissary. Recommended by a NY colleague in one of our reading lists, we read the short novel as part of our Book Salon and I simply adored it.
- Thing I miss most from Asia: Family.
Madelaine Wiebalck, Executive Programs Manager
Madelaine joined the team at Asia Society Switzerland in May 2021 as Executive Programs Manager. Before that, she headed a Master’s program in European and Chinese Business Management at the University of Zurich, and did two internships in Qingdao and Taipei. She studied Sinology in Zurich, Würzburg, Beijing, and Taipei. When she is not at work, she can be found hiking in the Swiss alps, drinking tea with her fellow tea-lovers, and traveling the world with a backpack.
- Favourite Asian movie: Spirited Away by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. Every time I watch this film I spot a new detail that I never noticed before. Also, I really like the film music by Joe Hisaishi.
- Favourite Chinese character: Really hard to say, as there are over 50'000 of them and they are all amazing, but I'll go with 茶 (chá), meaning tea (surprise surprise!). It is made up of three parts: leaf, person, and tree, which I find quite befitting!
- Favourite place to drink tea in Asia: Maokong, a quaint village located at the top of a mountain just outside of Taipei. The tea leaves grow on the mountain, and you can enjoy fabulous views while savouring the hot, fragrant tea in a tiny, hand-painted porcelain cup.
Martina Froehlich, Programs Officer
Before joining Asia Society Switzerland, Martina finished her Bachelor's degree in Japanese Studies and Environmental Sciences and was part of the PR team at the Zurich Film Festival 2020. While studying abroad in Osaka and Miyazaki, she worked as an Event-Manager and travel writer for the Japanese startup Otonau inc. and their outlet, En Miyazaki. When she is not on her quest to find the best coffee in town, she is planning her next travel adventure and enjoys going to concerts.
- Favorite surf spot in Asia (so far): Siargao Island (Philippines) and Miyazaki (Yes, really, Japan has amazing surf spots!)
- Favorite Asian Artist: I could not possibly decide – Asia’s music scene is as diverse as it is amazing, but if you need inspiration you can take a look at my (very mixed up) playlists on Spotify (I have to warn you, you will find anything from classical music to metal and guilty pleasures in various languages). Special mention: MONGOL800 – If you have been to Karaoke in Japan, you will encounter their songs sooner or later, and their music was one of the reasons I started to learn Japanese in the first place.
- Something Asian I wish we had in Switzerland: Japanese onsen and sentō (hot springs and public bathhouses). There is nothing like soaking in the hot water for hours after a long day. Oh, and karaoke boxes!
Rebecca Farner, Outreach and Communications Manager
Rebecca joined the team at Asia Society Switzerland as an intern in 2019. In March 2022, she returned as Outreach & Communications Manager. Originally studying religion and philosophy with a focus on Tibet and ethics at the University of Bern, she worked for different organizations in the field of human rights. When not working, she can be found in the mountains, swimming in the Aare in her hometown Bern or in the kitchen, cooking for a bunch of people.
- Favorite Asian book: Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. Not the conventional way of using words, forming sentences and writing a story.
- Favorite Asian dish: Nepalese Dal Bhat. Always cooked exactly the way my Ama la (Tibetan for mother) taught me.
- Favorite Asian podcast: NüVoices. A podcast about China that gives primarily a voice to women. Covering topics from cybersecurity to tea.
Remko Tanis, Programs and Editorial Manager
Remko joined Asia Society Switzerland in April 2022. Before that, he worked as an independent journalist and editor. He also spent nine years living in China and Singapore, covering East and Southeast Asia as a foreign correspondent for the Netherlands Press Association, Elsevier Magazine, RTL Z, and other media in the Netherlands and Belgium. In his free time, he can be found running, going to concerts, and training, as in sitting on trains between Zurich and Rotterdam. Remko studied History and Journalism at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
- Best concert while in Asia: Carsick Cars at D-22 in Beijing, way back in 2008. Their hit song 'Zhong Nan Hai' is definitely about the cigarette brand and absolutely not referring to the Party leadership compound next to the Forbidden City.
- Favorite Asian book: Brothers by Yu Hua. A brilliant, extensive story about two stepbrothers living through both the Cultural Revolution and the 'To get rich is glorious' eras of modern China in very different ways.
- Most impressive Asian infrastructure: The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the Kowloon-Guangzhou high speed rail link. Using both in 2019, seeing Mainland signage and security officers throughout the Hong Kong terminals: surefire symbols of things to come.
Josefine Yan Yan Lim, Project Manager
Josefine joined the team in May 2022. She majored in both Sinology and Popular Culture Studies for her B.A. degree from the University of Zurich and has studied for two summers in Beijing. Her background as Chinese-Swiss diaspora informed her fields of studies and specialized her in the empirical analysis and theoretical location of culture, subjectivity- and identity formation in media and everyday practice. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Culture Analysis and Gender Studies to expand her knowledge on postcolonial studies and conjunctural analysis. In her free time, she likes to take care of her growing plant collection, dabble in a variety of (visual) arts projects that sadly almost never get finished, and scower the internet for juicy, incredibly irrelevant gossip and weird phenomenas.
- Favorite Asian skin care brand: CosRX! Affordable glass skin and their Galactomyces 95% Tone Balancing Essence is a rumoured SK-II dupe!
- Asian snack I find weirdly comforting: Instant noodles. I want to try every variation there is! They are easy and sooo satisfying - especially the spicy ones with some melted cheese on top. My favourite so far is the classic Buldak Bokkeum Myun.
- Childhood nostalgia-train that is distinctly Asian: Cantonese fantasy live-action TV-series that used to be on CCTV. They were always a million episodes long, but I loved the costumes and the different rendition of folklore and myths! And the best: my family would always sit together and we'd watch and discuss it during dinner.
Manuela Coldesina, Operations Manager
Manuela joined the team in June 2022. She has a background in Japanese Studies and East Asian Art History and holds a Master’s degree in History, Arts and Culture of Asia from Leiden University with a specialization in Critical Heritage. After graduating and returning to Switzerland she pursued a dual career in culture and finance: working as a museum researcher and curator, as well as a compliance officer in the international trust business. When not working to support Asia Society’s Asia competence mission or travelling, she can be found in the kitchen, her balcony "garden”, or anywhere there’s a cat to annoy.
- Favourite Asian art: 20th century picture postcards – small visual time capsules full of wonders! – and Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints of any genre or era.
- Most memorable places to visit (in Japan): the Sakurajima volcanic island in the bay off Kagoshima, and the town of Kitsuki in Ōita Prefecture (best reached by car).
- Favourite books: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide, and The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa