Trading Places: Swiss Style

The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.”

This is the Swiss edition.

At the end of 2019 Sally Wanamaker and her husband Chris Jay began planning a move to Basel, for his work.

This past February of 2020 the couple — and their 11-year-old, Lucy — flew to Europe. They booked a 6-week Airbnb. Chris would start work; Sally and Lucy would spend 5 days, looking for apartments and doing a trial day at the International School of Basel, before returning to Connecticut with the idea of moving to join Chris in April.  

Lucy, Sally Wanamaker and Chris Jay in February, by the Rhine River.

They met parents of Lucy’s future classmates. When “Connecticut” was mentioned, a mother mentioned another family, the Ferraros – Johnny, Saran, Ellie and Julia —  who left the school the prior month. They’d moved to Westport.  

Sally realized that Lucy would be filling Ellie’s slot. 

When Sally and Lucy returned to Connecticut they called the Ferraros, offering any help they needed to get settled.

The families traded notes, talked about getting together, and marveled at the coincidence that the Ferraro girls were now going to Long Lots — the school Sally taught at for a year, before Green’s Farms Elementary.

Then came COVID-19. On March 12, it was announced that the borders could be closing.

Chris scrambled to get home. The family postponed plans to move (leaving 8 packed suitcases in the Airbnb).

Sally and Saran kept in touch, but could not get together due to restrictions.   The Ferraro girls had only 6 weeks in school before it closed. It was a tough way to begin in a new community.

Both families felt they were living in limbo.

When things began opening up again, Sally and Chris invited the Ferraros for a socially distanced boat ride (one family in the front, the other in back).

The Ferraros, on their socially distanced boat ride.

They talked about Switzerland and Westport. Lucy and Ellie chatted about their mutual friends in the Swiss school. Ellie had known them for years, while Lucy met them on her trial day and stayed in touch through social media and FaceTime.

Finally, the Wanamaker-Jays got the go-ahead to move. The Ferraros dropped a bag of transformers, adaptors, German language books and travel guides on their porch.

Sally had no guidebooks on Westport to pass on. Instead, she introduced the Ferraros to “06880.” 🙂

“Trading Places” is underway. Ellie now plays soccer in Westport. Lucy’s team just won a tournament in Zurich.

Lucy and Sally Wanamaker, on Lucy’s first day of school in Switzerland.

Sally and Saran are in touch every few weeks, chatting about the best grocery stores and sharing pediatrician recommendations in their respective locales.

They’ve discussed the difficulty of joining a new community where you see only the top half of someone’s face.

Ellie and Lucy continue to be on group chats with their mutual friends. It’s all good.

From left: Ellie and Julia Ferraro, and Lucy Wanamaker.

Oh, yeah. There’s one more thing.

The other day Lucy told her parents that she sits next to a girl named Beatriz Watanabe in German class. She just moved from Singapore.

When she found out that Lucy is from Connecticut, she said, “Oh, I lived there too.”

Of course, not just any old town in the state.

Beatriz lived in Westport. She went to Saugatuck Elementary School.

4 responses to “Trading Places: Swiss Style

  1. Celeste Champagne

    “It’s a small world after all”:-)

  2. Great story, Dan! Wishing all the best to both families in their new locales!

  3. Ha! The Basel connection continues. My daughter Fiona was supposed to fly up to CT from FL and take sailing classes together with Ellie and Julia…. until Covid hit. They all went to school together in Basel and their parents were all friends! How does a kid in Florida, who lived in Basel, know about a sailing school in CT?
    Fiona’s mom (Theresa) and aunt (Nicky) worked at LSS in the 90’s. Theresa ended up marrying Nicky’s brother Tom, and another generation of LSS offspring was born!

  4. Incredible and beautiful story!