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Reflections on Switzerland

August 1, 2011

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Dear Swain School Families:

Welcome to the first edition of our new blog site. As the digital age moves forward at the speed of lighting, I hope you will find this format more convenient and less intrusive than the “old school” e-newsletter.

As is always the case in late July, it seems like the summer days are vanishing faster and faster. I hope your family is enjoying every moment of this time off from school.

For my family, we just returned from our third summer in Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland (two hours east of Geneva), working for The American School in Switzerland.

This year, 39 middle school students from 15 different countries (including one of our own eighth graders from Swain) attended a month-long boarding school experience in the Swiss Alps.

The view from our apartment

In the mornings, students took classes in either English or French, and in the afternoons, students participated in sports or embarked on cultural excursions. This year, I was a dorm parent, sports counselor, middle school problem solver, and driver extraordinaire. Kristen served as the Director’s administrative assistant.

We love this experience for many reasons. Just like any family that goes on vacation (in our case a working holiday), spending time together on a daily basis – without the pressures of work and school – is a gift to cherish. Summer is also a time of great fun, and – just as I challenged our students to do this summer – we had a tremendous amount of fun exploring Swiss culture.

In addition, working and living with students and teachers from around the world is an experience that never grows old. It is simply fascinating to watch individuals from 15 different countries eat, play, and study together. For middle school children, exposure to different languages, customs, and ideas is crucial to their development as global citizens. Thirteen- year-olds may not be able to fully understand the cultural and social norms that exist in different countries – such as the fact that it is considered rude to speak quietly in some parts of Iran (for fear that people might think you are talking poorly about them) – but exposure to different ideas broadens horizons and opens minds.

Ultimately, the goal of global education is to help children and adults understand that there are multiple avenues to approach life. There are so many ways to solve problems, and raising children who can approach issues from multiple perspectives gives our society a chance to create a more sustainable, peaceful existence. Is there a more just cause than developing children who can engage in serious debate and participate in finding solutions in a respectful, dignified manner?

I hope you have enjoyed this inaugural edition of News & Notes – blog-style. Enjoy the remaining days of summer, have fun with your family, discover something new, and read a great book!

Book Recommendation
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. A monumental work about choices, love, and integrity.

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One Comment
  1. Kyle and Kristen,

    Welcome home from what sounds like a wonderful month abroad. I look forward to hearing more about the trip.

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