Aiglon Magazine | Issue 16 (Summer/Autumn 2021)

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ISSUE 16 SUMMER/AUTUMN 2021 School: What do Aiglon tutors do? Life support, of course Mountain: Aiglon students explain how they bridge borders Ideas: What will city life look like post-pandemic? People: Our equestrians share their unique lifestyle SWITZERLAND

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S H OW R O O M S : B l e i c h e r w e g 41 · 8 0 02 Z u r i c h P h o n e : 0 4 4 4 03 41 10 Q u a i d u M o n t- B l a n c 5 · 12 01 G e n e v a P h o n e : 02 2 9 0 8 14 0 0



S U M M E R /A U T U M N 2 0 2 1


Aiglonology 05 View from the mountain 06 Around the mountain 08 Here’s looking at you 10 My House 11 News 12 Together 14 Gallerist 15 Diary



Yasmine Meijer’s exhibition exploring the turbulence of childhood.

What’s it like when your best friend is from the other side of the world?



After a year of tumultuous change, what’s next for urban landscapes?

The many hats worn by Aiglon tutors to ensure students survive and thrive.



The special relationships between Aiglonians and their horses.

Year 10 student Séléné Luyet hits all the right notes on her favourite instrument.

Growing pains 37 Class notes 44 Recreation 46 Personal best 48 Meet the student

The end of the city? The Aiglon Magazine is published twice a year, in the winter and summer, and is sent free to Aiglonians. It is available to other readers on subscription. The opinions expressed in The Aiglon Magazine are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of Aiglon College.

Perfect harmony

Life support

Editor: Valerie Scullion Managing Editor: Seth Barker YBM Editor: Mira Katbamna YBM Managing Editor: Steve McGrath YBM Designer: Kate Monument Produced for Aiglon College by YBM

Mane attraction

Music of the spheres

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W E LC O M E TO I S S U E 1 6 Resilience and building strong relationships – it’s what Aiglon is all about. Valerie Scullion Director of Admissions and Marketing

Photography by Joe McGorty, illustration by James Olstein

Send your comments to



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As I write this, our graduates are packing up for the last time. The Class of 2021 have had a tough final year, but I am immensely proud of them. They have learnt a lot about resilience, hard work and maintaining positivity about the future, even when that future is uncertain. They have dug deep and I am optimistic that, despite the challenges and setbacks they have faced, there is enormous hope for their future and the opportunities awaiting them. I am comforted to know that, whatever the future holds, they will continue to be supported by the relationships they have built at Aiglon, a theme that runs through this issue. On page 16, we explore extraordinary friendships that cross vast cultural and geographic divides – friendships that broaden horizons and open worlds for so many Aiglonians. On page 24, we spotlight Aiglon’s tutors, who play such a vital and varied role in the lives of their students, and on page 30 we examine the relationship Aiglonians have with the natural world – in this case, as seen through the eyes of our many equestrians. I hope you enjoy this issue – and we look forward to your letters and, in due course, to welcoming you back to the mountain.



Stories to share? Feedback? Suggestions? We love to hear your thoughts. Get in touch and join the Aiglon conversation.

You asked in the recent Aiglon Magazine (issue 15, We Are All Activists Now) about people in the community who are activists. Allow me to introduce myself: I am an ecosystem restorer, and have studied a lot about how ecosystems work together and the root causes of degradation in the first place (usually poverty, but sometimes it can come down to terrible government policies or just the continual chemical additions of industrial agriculture). Then I set about trying to help design a functioning ecosystem that will restore the proper water, carbon and nutrient cycles to increase water retention and sinking. This can include using animal herds, composting or agroforestry. And at the moment, I’m trying to see if I can get the world’s governing body of football, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), to challenge the national teams participating in the FIFA 2022 World Cup (scheduled to take place in Qatar) to cover their carbon footprints by donating time to environmental initiatives in their countries. I know it’s a long shot, but if I don’t try, I cannot succeed! Erin Wiedmer Mother of William, Alpina, Year 11

A great read ON THE COVER Ice-skater turned harpist Séléné Luyet (Le Cerf, Year 10), who appears in our Personal Best feature on p46 discussing her musical inspiration.

I have to congratulate you for Aiglon Magazine. It is always a delight to read it and to be up to date with all the news. I remember so many years ago the first issue we did; it has developed into something really engaging. Congratulations to everyone involved. I have to tell you that I particularly loved the last issue and the article about activism – and of course the photos of my daughter, Nastassia! Maria Kantorowicz, Alumni parent.



Talking ecosystems

I was fascinated to read the article, Land of Opportunity (issue 15). I work for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a UN agency with headquarters in Rome, in their Communications Division. One of my colleagues manages the podcasts for the organisation and I often provide him with people who have stories that are worth sharing. In fact, we have already interviewed alumni Marco Minciaroni (Alpina, 1990) with whom I’m in direct contact. If any readers would like to hear his interview, you can find it here: en/web/latest/podcast/ asset/42139066 Barbara Bellogini, Clairmont, 1991


Ecology in focus

ISSUE 15 WINTER/SPRING 2021 School: Home from home: celebrating Houseparents and their students Mountain: How Aiglonians push past their limits to follow their dreams Ideas: Why, in 2020, activism has gone global People: Land of opportunity: how Aiglonians are leading a farming revolution SWITZERLAND

Join the conversation! email: write to: Aiglon Magazine, Aiglon College, Avenue Centrale 61, 1885 Chesières, Switzerland Facebook: Twitter: @aigloncollege Instagram: @aiglonswitzerland

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E M B R AC E THE FUTURE It’s time to use what we’ve learned to build a better world, says Nicola Sparrow. Photography Joe McGorty ’M WRITING THIS ON A GLORIOUS spring day, sitting in my office next to an open window. Outside, I can hear bellows of encouragement and yells of delight from the girls’ house football tournament. And while everyone always enjoys the tournament, I don’t remember ever seeing so many spectators, or hearing this much enthusiasm. It was impossible to value the everyday – until it was taken away. Now, it’s all the sweeter. We’ve learned to embrace normality and appreciate it, rather than always racing towards the next big thing. And this year has been all about getting on with things as usual, albeit with the occasional tweak. We have skied every week (in masks). We’ve gone on expeditions (though not overnight). We’ve taken part in Model United Nations (like the real United Nations, on Zoom). But most importantly, we have enjoyed the privilege of being together as a community. Of course, when we needed to take school online, everyone rose to the challenge. I was amazed to see how quickly our teachers adapted to new technology and how determined our students were to stay engaged. But there is nothing quite like hanging out, chatting, learning and enjoying each other’s company in real life. We’re all just happy to be here. We can take many positives from the huge challenges of the past year: how quickly we can adapt to change, how resilient we can be, how we can change the rules if we want to. We have formed a post-Covid group – almost like a think tank – of senior leaders, teachers and governors. It will be their task to think about not just what Aiglon looks like


Nicola Sparrow Head of School.

While everyone always enjoys the tournament, I don’t remember ever seeing so many spectators, or hearing this much enthusiasm post-pandemic, but how we fit into that post-Covid world. How should we change and adapt? How can we find opportunity in this awful event, and how can we grow from it? So it’s now time to look to the future, and how we can use what we have learned to build a better world. Along with our new-found appreciation of normal life should come a new compassion, an awareness of our privilege, an increased understanding of those who are not so fortunate – and a desire to do something about it: all things that are close to Aiglonians’ hearts. And with that in mind, I shall close the window, leave my office and join my joyous, shouting students in the sunshine.

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BOULANGERIE CHARLET Boulangerie, pâtisserie, chocolate factory, tea room, vinothèque... Visit now for sensory overload. Words Sarah Woodward Photography Joe McGorty

T’S ONE OF THE MOST HOTLYANTICIPATED arrivals to Aiglon each day – the early morning delivery of croissants and pain choco from Boulangerie Charlet. “We aim never to be late of course, although if it snows, we sometimes have to take a roundabout route,” says co-founder Didier Charlet. “But we have to be there before breakfast, seven days a week.” The journey from the small village of La Barboleuse, near Gryon, to Aiglon is often the easy bit. More complicated is loading the van in the first place. “It is not just the viennoiserie and the different types of breads. Each house has a different order – one house has donuts for the little ones every Thursday, another has a regular special order of coquilles au chocolat. Then there are the sandwiches. We have to cater for vegans and vegetarians, and watch out for allergies. It used to be just ham, cheese and tomato or salami, but over the years we have seen the pupils at the school broaden their tastes, and we now cover an ever-wider range of choice!” As his customers’ tastes have changed, Didier and his wife Ghislaine have grown their business to match. The bakery they opened in 1988 has expanded to include a traiteur (or delicatessen counter), a winter garden, a wine tasting room and a tea-room with a roaring fire and a view of the Alps. Look the other way, though, and the view is of the chocolate laboratory, a relatively recent addition since Didier and Ghislaine were joined by their sons Adrien, a qualified boulanger-pâtissier, in 2009, and Guillaume in 2012. Guillaume trained as a chef and chocolatier before joining the family business and today leads chocolate-making courses, says his proud father. “Making chocolate is complicated and we have had many groups of children from Aiglon come here to learn how it is done.”




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Charlet boys

Guillaume, Didier and Adrien in the tea-room, one of the many recent additions to the family business that has grown since 1988.

The two sons are also responsible for special events at the school, such as the chocolate and wine tasting on offer at a recent graduation ceremony. “We offered home-made ice cream last year, which was very popular. And throughout the year, we make special breads on demand, with vanilla, cinnamon, currants – whatever we are asked for.” The family’s latest project is to build an exterior wood-fired oven for their sourdough breads, says Didier. “All our breads are made using locally produced flour, with our own yeast, with no additives or conserving agents. It’s all about fresh, good, local ingredients.” Delivered, of course, on time – day in, day out, come snow or shine.


Great taste

Both sons show off their unique creations. Guillaume looks after chocolate production in La Chocolaterie, while Adrien, a trained boulanger-pâtissier, runs the bakery.

Insider VISIT

Pop in for some fresh breads and pastries, or visit the Salon de thé for hot chocolate, vin chaud or homemade ice cream. .


Choose from the wines of 15 different local vignerons at the Vinothèque, where each week eight grand crus are available to taste.


For chocoholics, La Chocolaterie uses carefully selected beans to create unique confectionery, cakes and cookies.



Cater for your wedding, cocktail party or formal reception with a tailor-made sweet or savoury order from the traiteur. Issue 16

Speak to Didier and Ghislaine, or one of the family, on +41 (0) 24 498 00 50, or visit the website at for full details. AIGLON




READ ALL ABOUT IT! Editor Eric Gibson (Belvedere/Alpina, 1972) says Aiglon inspired a can-do spirit that has proven essential throughout his career. Words Helena Pozniak Illustration James Olstein

HEN FLAMES ENGULFED PARIS’S Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2019, editor Eric Gibson (Belvedere/ Alpina, 1972) knew he had just a few hours to act. “I called our architecture critic and told him, ‘This is a big deal, we’ve got to get it in tomorrow’s paper’. I knew we could do it, and that for me has always been the greatness of Aiglon: it taught me that when you need to, you can just get on and do it.” As Arts in Review editor for the Wall Street Journal, he’s haunted by the prospect of empty pages in his newspaper. Happily that’s never happened, and he credits Aiglon for his competence. “Although I was, in fact, a terrible student,” he recalls. “My English teacher told my father I’d do brilliantly in an upcoming exam if it was on the British artist Henry Moore – unfortunately the topic was Shakespeare’s Hamlet.” It was his English teacher, though, who taught him the power of language. “Mr Senn was really my first ‘editor’. He’d return my homework all marked up – I was using too many words or he felt I could find better words – and this took my writing to a new level. I found it was what I liked doing the most. He was Swiss; English wasn’t even his first language and yet he had such command. He had this mammoth vocabulary and he knew Shakespeare inside out.”


My teacher said I’d do brilliantly in an upcoming exam if it was on Henry Moore. Unfortunately, the topic was Shakespeare’s Hamlet 8


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Man of letters Eric Gibson is Arts in Review editor for the Wall Street Journal.

Eric did, however, get an ‘A’ for his first essay on sculpture, and later went on to write two books about it – forging a career critiquing art and exhibitions. But he was strangely reluctant as a young boy to trail around museums with his parents. “I hated them, but Aiglon helped change that. On an expedition to Munich, I persuaded a teacher to allow us to visit a sculpture exhibition. From then on I would take myself off to see new shows.” Eric flourished in Aiglon’s progressive ambience. “Half the students were from America and they’d complain how strict Aiglon was. But I’d come from a British boarding school, and I’d tell them, ‘At least there’s no corporal punishment here’.” Eric’s love for art history developed during weekly art classes with – “thrillingly” – practising artist Norman Perryman. “I remember learning so much from him. For example, he once pointed out a Modigliani and said, ‘There are no straight lines, only curves’. That really registered with me.” Perryman’s art history lectures hooked him – he went on to study it at Trinity College, Hartford before becoming a roving art critic in New York, writing for The Economist, the Washington Times and editing ARTnews. He’s been at the Wall Street Journal since 1998, and is one of the small group of “art nerds” from that time at Aiglon, including Connie Curran McPhee (Exeter, 1974) who is now a curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. And if he were back at Aiglon now? He’d be up every mountain and on every ski expedition. “I was never very good at sports or skiing but, like everybody else after they’ve left, I wish I’d done more. It gave me a real appreciation of the beauty of nature. I began to understand why artists want to paint the outdoors when it can be that spectacular. Whenever I see landscapes in art, I have the view from Aiglon at the back of my mind.”

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LIFE IS SWEET AT D E L AWA R E House captain Vansh Mehra (Delaware, 2021) says the Valentine’s Day candygram run is a perfect example of his house’s fun attitude to life. Interview Helena Pozniak Photography Joe McGorty

NE WORD TO SUM UP LIFE IN Delaware? Fun. As the largest boys’ house at Aiglon, there’s always something going on, and it’s usually quite noisy! But the atmosphere is always really friendly, mostly because the ‘D-Boys’, as we’re known, are such a tight group of friends. We’ve bonded on expeditions and sports courts – from sleeping in hay barns to climbing mountains together to beating other houses on the athletics track. We also like to spread the love. One of the highlights of the Delaware year is leading the Valentine’s Day candygram run. I was in charge this year, helping to hand-deliver messages, tokens of friendship and jokes – and of course plenty of sweets. Students don’t know who the sender is, but they can have a good guess – once I’ve made sure the messages stay on the right side of appropriate, of course! It’s a really active house; wild at times, but always in a positive way. As captain, part of my job is to represent everyone here, speaking up for Delaware when we want to get across our point of view or we need to fight our corner. I’ve been here six years now, so I have a great sense of what we’re about and knowing what to say when I’m called on. When I first arrived here at age 11, I was a little nervous, with all the usual homesickness. Once I got to know people in the house, however, that all




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The latest news from the Aiglon community and beyond. To find out more, visit New Belvedere is under way

The ‘D-Boys’ are a tight group of friends – we’ve bonded on expeditions and sports courts and we like to spread the love! disappeared, and I just remember having the best time. My fellow students helped, but a lot of it was also down to our Houseparents, who set the tone of the house. Mr and Mrs Haynes really care about us – they’ve been in charge of Delaware since I arrived and they are like our guardians. They’ll check up on us, make sure we’re feeling all right. I feel I can talk to them about anything, and although they’re the ones setting the rules, Delaware feels relaxed; they trust us. They’re also the first people we see when we get up in the morning. Some houses have a roll call every morning, but we can just come down and check in over breakfast. That means at least an extra 30 minutes lie-in – and that, believe me, is precious! That said, we have pretty full school days from 7am until 6pm, and then a couple of hours of prep in the evenings. It’s then that you hang out with the people in your house, buy cookies from the tuck shop, play sport together. Every Friday for the past few months, Delaware’s Year 13s have got together to cook our own food. We have our own rooms and we don’t wear uniform, so it does feel different. Your house dictates your school career – it flavours your whole Aiglon experience. When you enter the school, you inherit a type of house personality, and I’m going to really miss my housemates when I leave. I’ve made so many deep friendships here, it will feel really strange without everybody – they are my family.

We are excited that the Belvedere boys will be moving to a new house on the site where La Dacha used to be. The current Belvedere will be completely renovated into additional classroom space.

... and Le Trient opens

To meet the increased demand for places in the Senior School, Aiglon will add a new boarding house, Le Trient, that will house approximately 12 senior girls. Jane Kan has been appointed Houseparent of Le Trient, which is located very close to campus, opposite the L’Atelier.

Houseparents appointed

Vicki Evans has been appointed as the new Houseparent in Exeter, while Ben Bartlett takes over the role in Belvedere for the 2021/22 academic year.

Farewell Reid, welcome Karen

After nine years at Aiglon, the last eight of them in the development team, Karen Sandri has been appointed Development and Alumni Relations Manager. Karen steps up following the departure of Reid Alan Ching, who recently accepted a position as Senior Director for Principal Gifts at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford in California.

Aiglon shop

The Aiglon online shop is now live. Alumni from around the world can order Aiglon-branded products to their door by visiting the website at

2021 Graduation ceremony

Congratulations to the 72 graduating students from the Class of 2021, especially to all award winners, including Klara Krueger (Clairmont), winner of the Victrix Ludorum and John Corlette Prizes, and Nikolay Demishin (Alpina), who won the Merit Cup.

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S U S TA I N A B L E STYLISTS Waste not, want not, say Mrs Naomi Haynes and Anju Kusamoto (Clairmont, Year 11). Words Helena Pozniak Photography Joe McGorty



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Recycle, upcycle Anju and Mrs Haynes have set up Aiglon’s first ever secondhand clothes shop.

IF YOU SAW WHAT CLOTHES get left here at the end of the year, it would make your eyes pop out,” says biology teacher Mrs Naomi Haynes. And it was that mountain of abandoned garments that led Anju Kusamoto (Clairmont, Year 11) to go to Mrs Haynes with a simple yet transformative idea – why not set up a second-hand clothing shop for students? “It’s not cheap rubbish,” says Mrs Haynes. “Designer jackets, expensive trainers, clothes with the price tags still on them... And of course, odd socks too.” This is a far cry from the grotty lost property of the British boarding school where her family was previously based. “There, pretty much everything was fit only for shredding.” Both Anju and Mrs Haynes hate waste. They also want to spare the environmental cost of ditching textiles in landfill. “Anju’s idea was a complete breath of fresh air,” says Mrs Haynes. “Finding such a kindred spirit was heart-warming. She’s trying to change a wider materialistic buy-and-thenthrowaway culture.” For Anju, it’s about finding an accessible way to do something positive to mitigate the environmental toll of fast fashion. “I’d read about microplastics and the problems of clothes piling up, rather than being recycled. I’ve tried doing presentations about it, but I think this approach is more effective.” She’s also happy to be tapping into a taste for upcycling and vintage clothing among her friends. “I’ve always loved thrift stores. But I didn’t know how much other people cared before we started. I think [the TV series] Stranger Things started a trend – we were all in to ‘mum jeans’ at first, and now we’ve gone more 90s.” Inspired by the prospect of finding a more sustainable solution, Anju and friends left empty boxes for donations inside each house, and were overwhelmed by the response. But then they had a job on their hands – and it was down to Anju and her team to persuade the laundry to spruce them up in time for the Christmas fair.

Happily, she succeeded, and the fair was a great success. “We raised 400 francs from sales – and that’s just the beginning,” says Anju. With plans to set up an online shop, she aims to overcome the logistical challenge of finding and staffing a physical space. She’s already adept at digital marketing and sales – she and a couple of creative friends have created, a website selling posters, pots, original art and more. And they’ve discovered a canny means of marketing the many designer dresses and more desirable pieces among the Aiglon community – by getting senior students to model the clothes for a marketing photoshoot first. “We hope that will help give them kudos and drum up more support,” says Mrs Haynes. In the past, Aiglon staff have done their best to prevent lost property going to waste – by delivering to local clothing banks and helping organise the legendary Aiglon sale in the village at the end of terms. But Mrs Haynes feels students themselves are changing – thanks in part to Anju’s initiative. And now the school is considering the viability of a second-hand uniform shop after the summer break – after discovering there’s appetite among parents for such a move. “We’re a few steps away,” says Mrs Haynes, “but everybody is now very keen. It’s never existed before.” If Anju’s venture takes off, she plans to donate all proceeds to charities combatting climate change. “Her ideas have broken down barriers,” says Mrs Haynes. “Second hand is acceptable as well as sustainable.”

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GROWING PA I N S “Art is not an emotion,” claims Yasmine Meijer (Le Cerf, 2021) in her exhibition exploring growing up and the turbulence of childhood.



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Time for bed

Yasmine Meijer’s photo series was chosen by Aiglon Magazine’s art director for its use of vibrant colours and dramatic narrative.

Diary The pick of global Aiglon events happening between July and December 2021. 2021

Term dates The autumn term will run from Monday 30 August to Friday 17 December, with half term during 15-31 October. S E P T- N OV

ll my pieces have to do with the concept of the emotions of growing up, and the aim of this exhibition is to represent the turbulence of childhood. Growing up, the works of contemporary artists Takashi Murakami, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Mike Kelley set my artistic spirit free while I explored the theme of childhood in my works. As a result, I usually like to dabble in colours and depict a complex spectrum of emotions, as shown in this photographic series, ‘Art is not an emotion’. The result is something vibrant and bold, giving quite dramatic visual impact through 3D form, large scale and a tactile surface. This is to portray the feeling of being a child again, when everything seems a lot bigger than it is and your sense of touch and imagination are important.


Autumn recruitment trips Meet the Admissions team on their travels this autumn: Monaco (15 Sept); Dubai (25-25 Sept); Moscow (15 Oct); Singapore (27 Nov); and Hong Kong (29 Nov). 26-27 AUGUST

New student orientation We look forward to welcoming our new families to campus from 26-27 August. The special expanded programme will feature presentations, campus tours, the school shop, meeting Houseparents, special excursions and a new family BBQ. DAT E T B C

Class of 2020 A Class of 2020 reunion event will be managed by our Alumni Office when restrictions allow. Details to follow. For more information or to share ideas, contact

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PERFECT HARMONY At Aiglon, students from around the globe learn to live side by side. But what’s it really like when your best friend has ideas that are literally from the other side of the planet? Words Victoria James Photography Joe McGorty


lice Cervini and Victoria Li come from opposite ends of the Earth (Milan and Hong Kong). They speak different languages and have different outlooks, backgrounds and attitudes. What could they possibly have in common? Well, Aiglon is renowned for bringing people together, and so it proved in this case – with a little extra help from quarantine. “When we first met, we didn’t like each other very much,” admits Victoria. “And under normal circumstances we might never have become friends. But when the first quarantine hit and everyone in our friendship groups left, it was just us.” “When I saw Victoria was here, I thought, ‘Let’s go talk to her’,” says Alice. “At one point she was quarantined so I took my chair and sat outside her room and we just spent afternoons talking.” “For two weeks we spent every minute together,” continues Victoria (the two swap and finish each other’s sentences). “We started talking about what we have in common and found it was so much.” “Usually, my parents would come most weekends to see me,” finishes Alice, “but with Covid they couldn’t, so I realised I’d have to sort of make myself a family.” (At which both girls “awww” and hug and laugh.) It may have been given a 2020 twist, but that’s the Aiglon way – a whole range of different nationalities coming together in perfect harmony. The melting pot atmosphere can make for a learning curve like no other – and can build friendships that enrich lives above and beyond the usual school experience.



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“In my old school, I’d be quite quiet,” says Alice. “But here, I knew I’d have to make friends or go home. I think they like putting different nationalities together as roommates, and we’ve come across so many in our house – French, American, Japanese, Russian, Nepalese – all round the world!”


Antonio Crosswell Goudet and Issei Akita (both Belvedere, Year 10) arrived at Aiglon at the start of the 2020 school year, hailing from Mexico City and Tokyo, Japan respectively. It was the first time boarding for both, and they laughingly admit to feeling some worry about adapting and finding friends. As it turned out, though, they hit it off immediately after being placed in the same room. “It was pretty natural,” says Antonio. “That first day we shared our social media profiles, and by the end of the week he started to open up and we found we had a similar sense of humour.” So much so, that when Issei cut himself slicing bread, his first instinct was to go to his friend for help. “I thought he was playing a prank, with ketchup or something,” says Antonio. “It was only when I saw that blood coming out that I realised we needed to get it cleaned up and get him to the nurse, who quickly patched him up and he was fine.” “The sharing rooms often creates really strong bonds,” says Mr Mike Cornish, Aiglon’s Service and Spiritual Life Leader. “But you’re unlikely to be with the same person for your whole school life. All houses use different systems, but most rotate

VICTORIA LI AND ALICE CERVINI Although initially thinking they had little in common, Victoria and Alice became inseparable after a friendship built during quarantine.

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ANTONIO CROSSWELL GOUDET AND ISSEI AKITA First-time boarders Antonio and Issei hit it off almost immediately after being placed in the same room, and say their friendship is “pretty natural”.



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When Issei cut himself, his first instinct was to go to his friend for help. “I thought he was just playing a prank with ketchup” ANTONIO CROSSWELL GOURDET A N D I S S E I A K I TA

roommates termly, so you get to meet new people and get used to making it work. You need to learn about people’s sensitivities, their idiosyncrasies, their cultures, and really get to know them.” Aiglon has multiple ways of helping students get to know their peers better, Mr Cornish explains. “Whether you’re into music and DJing, technology, recycling or the outdoors, there’s a place you can do that. Student interaction isn’t just built around lessons and expeditions. There are lots of activities that foster friendships across house and across year groups.” Those same activities can both strengthen and be strengthened by preexisting friendships: Victoria and Alice encourage each other to go to the gym; Issei and Antonio “go running and play football together, and we’ve both signed up to try climbing.” Expeditions, by their very nature, require a degree of mutual reliance that solidifies relationships. “You’re with that group 24/7,” says Mr Cornish. “Every time you cook or put up a tent you are sharing responsibility for providing food and providing shelter. You’re relying on other people for your safety – and they rely on you.” “But it’s not just about physically supporting each other,” says Victoria. “It’s about sharing memories of getting to the summit together. That moment you take a photo of you both to say, ‘We got here, together’.” “On Ex, you’re put into random groups, so you have to spend the whole day with people you’ve maybe never spoken to before,” says Alice. “And if we don’t find someone to talk to,” adds Victoria, “we talk to the teachers, and that’s another kind of friendship.”


That willingness and ability to be open to others is something Aiglon works hard to foster, not least during daily Meditation, which can be given by students and staff alike, as well as visiting speakers. “You feel you’ve really learned something about the person,” says Mr Cornish, who is responsible for programming the Meditations. “I spoke about part of my family being Indian and the racial abuse some family members experienced; others have talked about overcoming disappointment, loss or physical challenges. The stories are incredible, personal and applicable. But some are funny and light: you might hear about a skill, a passion or someone’s family life. They go a long way to developing a culture where people are open and accepting.” Service trips are another way of directly experiencing the home countries and cultures of fellow students – or actively sharing one’s own, such as the planned trip to Istanbul organised by two Turkish students to help in a local school and experience the sights of one of the world’s great cross-cultural cities – or the online charitable relationship supporting small-scale farmers

being established by an Indian student in her home country. “We don’t have to suggest these things,” says Mr Cornish. “Students come to us under their own steam.” But as well as the more formal activity, many students find just chatting is the best way for cultural exchange to happen naturally. “The other evening,” says Alice, “Victoria started talking about her family traditions. I was super-interested, because in China they seem more defined, whereas in Italy they’re not so formal.” And Issei and Antonio have been learning each other’s languages and cooking speciality dishes for each other. “There are a lot of differences about a school like this that make you more tolerant and patient,” says Antonio, “even if that’s just hanging out at weekends.”


Of course, while boarding school places students into greater proximity during their school days, it inevitably scatters them further apart once they leave. Aiglon’s graduates maintain connections across entire continents. Antonio and Issei have already worked out how far apart they’ll be once they leave – “it’s seven hours’ time difference,” they chorus in mock dismay. Issei is already planning a trip to Mexico. “I know a lot of graduates who still stay in touch, even after so long,” says Victoria. “The connections they’ve built here are that strong.” Indeed, these two international pairs are already planning how they can stay teamed up a little longer. “Every term in Belvedere you write down the names of people you want to room with,” says Antonio. “It’s not guaranteed, but they look at things like if you help out around the house and have good marks.” “So, he helps me a lot with prep and with my English,” says Issei. “I keep him out of trouble,” laughs Antonio. “And he helps me with Maths. He’s so incredibly good at it.” Alice and Victoria, meanwhile, are applying classroom skills to their campaign to stay as roommates. “We’ve written an essay making our case,” says Alice. “It’s two pages long and is a proper PEE – point-evidenceexplain – argument,” says Victoria. “We’re determined!” And as Aiglon’s alumni can attest, friendships built on the mountain endure. “As long as you stay the person you are, and don’t try and change yourself, you will attract people who want to have a long-term friendship with that person,” says Victoria. And Alice agrees: “No matter who you are or where you’re from, there’s always someone who’ll come and talk and be your friend,” she says. “And, often, those friendships are made forever.”

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After a year of tumultuous social change, what’s next for urban landscapes? Experts from the Aiglon community share their visions on a new approach and how we should be designing the cities of the future. Words Lucy Jolin



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Photos by Rubén García, Fran Boloni, Adam Borkowski, Peiheng Yang, Sergi Brylev, KW Falkena, Paulo Silva and Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash


Ghost towns The Covid-19 pandemic saw cities emptied of people, almost overnight. From Paris to Rome, and Beijing to New York, eerie cityscapes, unique in modern times, became the norm for our global society.


till. Silent. And devastatingly empty. From New York’s Times Square to London’s Oxford Circus, global lockdowns have stripped the public realm of people, and the result is cities that seem lost, without purpose – missing the vital human energy that makes them what they are. Which is why the question on everyone’s lips – from town planners to architects to commuters – is: will cities recover? If they do, will they still be the same? Or does Covid-19 herald the end of the age of the urban? “The risk is that we are going to view everything that happens in the next 15 years through the filter of the pandemic,” says Jon Reades (Delaware, 1992), Associate Professor of Spatial Data Science at UCL and author of Why Face-to-Face Still Matters: The Persistent Power of Cities in the Post-Pandemic Era (Bristol University Press 2021). “But I suspect Covid-19 is the petrol, not the fire. It’s accelerating trends that already existed. Cities have always grown and contracted.

It’s important to take a long view and realise that, while these changes are important, they are not the whole story.” Architect and urban planner Andrés Duany (Alpina, 1967) is often credited as the founder of New Urbanism, a highly influential school of town planning and architectural design that highlights walkability, self-contained communities and dense neighbourhoods. A big fan of taking the long view, he points out that right now, we don’t know if the pandemic’s effects will be long-term, or whether most of us will gradually return to our old ways. But the last big pandemic – the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920, which killed around 50 million people worldwide – certainly had profound and long-lasting effects on the way we live. “The so-called ‘Roaring 20s’ – young people living it up, celebrating a return to normal life – were only experienced by a very small, white, rich and urban section of the population, while the rest of the world experienced profound hardship,” says Andrés. “The real effects were in the way we dealt with the pandemic. There were no vaccines and no internet. And the way people reduced their chances of infection was Vitamin D through sunlight and fresh air. In the US, people came to California and Florida. In Europe, they went to the Riviera, the Balearic Islands and Southern Italy. In 1920, San Francisco was nothing. By 1927, it was the most glamorous place on Earth.” Buildings themselves became ways to keep infection down. Plain, white walls and tubular metal furniture were far easier to clean and wipe down. Balconies and terraces, allowing fresh air to circulate, replaced roofed porches. Flat roofs, where city people could get air and sunlight, became more common, along with big glass walls to let in healing sunlight. “And this transformation became permanent,” says Andrés. Now, he says, clients are asking for post-Covid homes. “I am specifically designing from the outside in. It’s not enough just

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Back to normal? As post-pandemic cities begin to open up, questions remain about what the ‘new normal’ will look like, and what the long-term impact will be on the urban landscape.

to give a house a garden or good views. We are now taking the outside space with enormous seriousness – for example, an apartment building that has a huge outdoor space. And that’s very exciting. The great thing is that none of these post-Covid designs are punitive. They are all better places to live.”


Could the pandemic drive us out of cities permanently? Andrés believes that the pandemic could spur many to rediscover the joys of small-town life. Remote working, online shopping and online dating have replaced many of the reasons people lived in cities in the first place, he says. “There is no question that cities have a role to play, but they are more likely to be popular with those who are younger – people who are starting out in their careers, who want to meet lots of other people. A great philosopher friend of mine says it’s all about what he calls the circle of happiness. People are realising that the circle is smaller than they thought. They might have everything they need right here.” But urban decline and subsequent reinvention is also a familiar cycle. In the 1970s, Jon points out, New York was fighting a crime wave and a debt crisis. London’s population had been



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declining ever since the end of the Second World War. But by the 1980s, economic and social change slowly brought new life to cities. They became magnets for creative energy, engines of the economy and centres for new communities. They became the places to be: one sign of that was gentrification. Anecdotally, he says, many who left London during the pandemic were planning to go anyway: the pandemic just meant they went sooner than planned. Interestingly, many are also not moving too far from cities, either. And that may be because moving involves weighing up a range of competing factors: the inflexibility of transportation networks, the extent to which working from home ‘works’, and the benefits of being there, whether your ‘office’ is an art opening on Friday or the boardroom on Monday. “Industries that require people to be actually in the room – such as creative industries – are more likely to retain a presence in cities, whereas industries such as IT are less reliant on that face-to-face energy,” Jon says. “Companies such as Microsoft and Oracle, for example, have never made the city part of their offering.” But while fewer of us may come to the city to work, many more may come for pleasure. Cities offer the unique, world-class


I suspect Covid-19 is the petrol, not the fire. It’s accelerating trends that already existed

Photos by Karen Lau, Robert Bye, Victor Rodriguez, Joseph Costa, Yulia Chinato and Alicia Steels on Unsplash


cultural experiences that bring so much joy and meaning to our lives, and which were so brutally curtailed by the pandemic: theatre, cinema, ballet, art galleries, concerts. Christina Seilern Goulandris’s architectural practice, Studio Seilern, has designed cultural and performing arts centres all over the world. It has been a difficult and disruptive time, says Christina (Chantecler, 1988). “Culture is all about gathering people together. It’s hard to replicate online: watching a concert on TV is not the same as being there in the hall. I believe that the draw of the city and what you can get out of a city is still there.”


Like Jon, she believes that the pandemic has accelerated changes that were already coming. “For example, we have one commercial project which is a space where people can gather and come together. It’s like a work club where you don’t have a permanent desk, but you come for meetings or lunches. It’s much more about individuals who will need working spaces and may not want to work from home, but do need a space to come to occasionally, and a new kind of hybrid building is the result.”

And there is no reason why the city of the future shouldn’t be “built back better”. More people are cycling and walking, Jon points out, leading to much less pollution, while architect Marcos Rosello (Delaware, 1994) hopes that cities will become more friendly. “I think we are going to talk to each other a lot more after being segregated from each other for so long,” he says. “I’m so over Zoom calls – I think a lot of people are. When I’ve been out on my walks during lockdown, I’ve noticed that I say hello to people a lot more. I have conversations with strangers which before the pandemic would be unheard of. How can we use these positives, this new willingness, to improve cities? Take a footpath, for example. It doesn’t just have to be a path by a road. Why can’t it be somewhere that people sit and eat and talk?” The pandemic has meant that we are all now much more comfortable with being outside, and this, too, could shape and change how we gather in the city of the future. Marcos, who has a special interest in regeneration, is keen to make outdoor spaces more flexible and accessible. “Public spaces are becoming more important. This is about blurring the public and the private, creating spaces that are inclusive for everyone, breaking the hierarchy of boundaries. But the key is always to engage the community right at the beginning of the design process.” Throughout history, cities have always faced challenges: war, plague, natural disasters. Some have thrived: some have fallen. But whatever the future holds for our cities, perhaps the pandemic has taught us something about how we tackle those challenges. “We have realised that we can make a bigger difference, more quickly, than we ever thought before,” says Marcos. “Now, we have this amazing chance to make a much bigger impact than we ever imagined.”

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LIFE SUPPORT From learning new vocabulary to mastering new equations, Aiglonians tackle the highest peaks inside, and outside, the classroom. Luckily, making sure they have the right intellectual kit, preparation and maps, you’ll find their tutor. Words Victoria James Photography Joe McGorty


T (Previous page)

Ms Emma Wright “We don’t divide academic progress from personal and spiritual growth.” (Opposite)

Mr Tom Krueger “I couldn’t imagine working in a school where you just teach and go home.”

hey are cheerleaders, counsellors and mentors. They range across all areas of school life, and resist the categories of ‘academic’ or ‘pastoral’. Who are they? The tutors. It’s a role that has enormous breadth and variety – and therein lies its magic, says Ms Lucy Widdows, Head of History and a tutor in Exeter. “Does the student need counselling, a shoulder to cry on, or just to let off steam? Or do they need mentoring, where you give a lot of input into helping them solve a problem they’re struggling with? Or should it be coaching, working with them on their self-awareness and mindset, helping them to set their own goals and holding them accountable? That really builds steps towards independent adulthood. Those are three different approaches, and the best way you can judge the right one is just by knowing the student really well. “The key question you’re asking yourself is: ‘What do they need at this time?’”, says Ms Widdows. “One day you might be turning up to watch your tutee in a play or going to view their art exhibition; the next you might be offering advice as a parent or mentor might. You’re seeing the ups and downs of your students’ lives, and working out how to support them in that moment.” “I couldn’t imagine working in a school where I just teach and go home,” says Mr Tom Krueger, another experienced Aiglon faculty member and tutor. “The conversations you might have in a kitchen while baking bread together are very different from those in a classroom at half past eight on a Monday morning. What’s really going through someone’s head can come out on Friday evening on a sofa with a cup of tea. It’s hard to put it like that in official descriptions of the job, but that’s when it really happens. And when it works, it’s magical.”

The key question you’re asking yourself is: ‘What do they need at this time?’. You’re working out how to support them in that moment MS LUCY WIDDOWS



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Sometimes that is a shared moment of pleasure at a moment of success; at other times, it might be a substantial conversation about life choices. Mr Krueger cites two good examples. “One was a student who’d just got into one of their top-choice universities. They came by to let me know they were over the moon. That’s a typical student-tutor interaction. Then at morning break, two students came for cake and tea and to discuss something challenging – whether they wanted to do the university course their parents wanted for them. That was a big conversation, about how your degree subject doesn’t define who you are in life, other possibilities such as gap years, and the importance of keeping your options open. You’re there to let them know everyone – their parents and their teachers – has their best interests at heart.” Maths teacher Mr James Shaw, newly arrived at Aiglon at the start of this academic year and tutor to Year 12 boys in Alpina, likens the role to one he experienced as a student in the UK. “The Aiglon tutor system has similarities with Oxbridge supervisions. It’s that creation of a one-on-one trusting space where we all respect each other’s ideas and point of view.” Into that space, students bring vastly different questions and experiences. “I have one student who’s interested in YouTube and its business opportunities,” Mr Shaw says. “He’s very motivated, pushing hard and wanting to be successful. So, a lot of our weekly chat is not only academic but about how we can connect what he’s doing in the classroom with what he wants to do next, which is to set up a business. Then another student might be going through a stage where they are finding things really tough academically, so I’ll be thinking about how I can better connect them with their teachers. In both cases, my role is to help that student find a pathway to success.”


One challenging aspect of a boarding school education can be the physical distance between students and their families. And while the size of tutor groups enables them in some ways to act as a surrogate family unit within a larger boarding house, a crucial role of the tutor is supporting contact between students and their parents. “Parents have such trust in us, to put their child in our care,” says Ms Widdows. “That trust is really moving, and with it comes responsibility.” “I love the positive contact I have with parents,” says Ms Emma Wright, an English teacher and another new arrival at Aiglon, who tutors boys in Belvedere. “If I get an email saying that one of my tutees just received a merit in English, I can forward that straight on to his mum. The boys are talking to Mum and Dad, I’m talking to Mum and Dad, so there’s a chain of communication around the boys’ growth.” During the Covid pandemic, tutor support was vital in helping both students and parents through the uncertainty. “I’ve been so impressed with how my





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(This page)

Ms Lucy Widdows “You can’t ever underestimate the power of an adult giving a child undivided attention.” (Opposite)

Mr James Shaw “Often students push themselves really hard. You have to be able to say, ‘It’s okay to make mistakes’.”






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Belvedere boys have managed,” says Ms Wright. “Some of them are on a totally different time zone from their families, maybe not knowing when they’ll next go home. Parents and I would contact each other, sometimes one asking the other to check in with students. The boys have been so smiling, positive, respectful and patient, and the links between family, tutor, boarding house and student have enabled that by providing a solid foundation.” As the pandemic has eased, some of these newly established channels of communication remain open. “We’ve started doing online parents’ meetings,” explains Ms Widdows, “and there has been massive engagement from parents. You can see how proud they are of their kids, and often we can see where the kids get their personality from. It’s great to have that line of contact with parents.” And technology offers low-pressure routes for tutors to check in with students, too – all done on safeguarding-compliant, open-access platforms. “We’re using a range of Google apps,” explains Ms Widdows. “One of those is Google Hangouts, which makes it easy for me to communicate with students on a very informal basis – a fist-pump icon when they’ve got a merit, or a quick ‘Are you okay?’ message. It’s an instant way of communicating, like the way we keep in touch with our families – fewer long chats and more constant check-ins.” Ultimately, though, it is those in-person moments where the magic of the tutorial relationship happens. “You can’t ever underestimate the power of an adult giving a child undivided attention,” says Ms Widdows. “The students need it.” Tutors must be unafraid of the fact that some lessons students learn during their time at Aiglon will be tough. “Often students push themselves really hard,” says Mr Shaw. “You have to be able to say, ‘It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay not to get it right the first time.”’ “Owning your mistakes is such an important thing on the road to adulthood,” adds Ms Widdows. At the most difficult moments, students might shut down rather than opening up, which is when the painstakingly forged links between student and tutor can make all the difference. “You can’t force, it, that would be wrong,” says Mr Krueger. “So, you just have to try and create every opportunity for them to talk to you. Just like all of us, some days they open up, some days they don’t. Sometimes they’re in their own world and adults are shut out. Sometimes you can find solutions by reaching out to the people students are spending time with. And sometimes it just takes time.” All agree that the key to the success of Aiglon’s tutorial system is that it is holistic. “We don’t divide academic progress from personal and spiritual growth,” says Ms Wright. “I want my boys to be happy and successful in all walks of life,” agrees Mr Shaw. “Whether that’s academics and expeditions, trying out leadership and new opportunities, or building friendships. Enabling that is not a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job. It’s 24/7.”

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MANE ATTRACTION Working with horses may take hard work, expertise and passion – but it is always a privilege. We spoke to the Aiglonians who have built their lives around this truly unique relationship. Words Lucy Jolin

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle,” wrote Winston Churchill in his memoir, My Early Life. Anyone who has known the joys and challenges of a life with horses will agree. From the fast-paced teamwork of the polo field to the simple pleasures of hacking – just you, your horse and the wonders of nature – the equestrian world is one like no other, as Aiglonians will attest. “Now I am a father, I hope that my children will also benefit from the lessons I’ve learned from a life with horses,” says Swiss polo team member Sacha Pictet (Delaware, 2003). “It teaches you selflessness. A captain is nothing without a ship, and a rider is nothing without a horse – but the horse, unlike the ship, has feelings and a brain.” A love of horses is often a family affair, and one that begins in early childhood. Amateur polo player Howard Flood (Delaware, 1973) cites his “keen horsewoman” mother as an influence. John Gardner (Clairmont, 1965), who now runs a farm for retired horses, was “surrounded by horses” as a child.



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And Sacha remembers his grandfather Pierre’s passion for showjumping, while his father introduced him to polo as a teenager. Those born into the equestrian life are more than happy to share their passion. Dressage rider Virginia Lundin (Clairmont, 1979) remembers one special day visiting her friend, Claudia Pictet (Sacha’s aunt), at their country estate. “I was always obsessed with animals of all kinds and, of course, there were always horses there. One day, Claudia’s father [Sacha’s grandfather, Pierre] allowed me to ride his big mare. I was only about nine, and I will never forget that feeling, as he told me what to do and the horse followed my instructions.” But a love for horses can spark in the most unlikely places. Todd Barbey (Belvedere, 1960-61/Clairmont, 1965-67) originally caught the bug on a summer camp in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, on five-day horseback trips into the forest. However, it wasn’t until later that he rediscovered his passion. “In 1991, my wife Bonnie and I decided to leave San Diego and build a ranch in Durango. We had the idea of having



(Delaware, 1973)

Howard developed a love of horses from his mother, a keen horsewoman, before being “encouraged” to join the Guards Polo Club as a British Army officer in the 1970s. He plays around the world as an amateur.

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(Belvedere, 1960-61 Clairmont, 1965-67) Originally introduced to horses on a summer camp, Todd rediscovered his passion years later when he and his wife, Bonnie, built a ranch in Durango, Colorado. They import and breed Welsh cobs, and compete in driving, riding and in-hand competitions.



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(Clairmont, 1979)

Virginia has always been obsessed with animals of any kind, but is most fascinated with the connection between horse and rider that comes in Dressage, an Olympic sport since 1912 but with its origins in Ancient Greece. She has competed internationally at the highest level for the past 10 years.

horses and going trail-riding, but a couple of years later we were at a doctor’s office and there was an old magazine, Country Living, that had a six-page article on Welsh cobs. Originally bred in Wales to haul coal from mines, these horses have tremendous power, motion and action. Bonnie just flipped. Before long, we were importing and breeding them.” And the equestrian world is big enough and diverse enough for everyone to find their niche. For Sacha, of course, there’s nothing quite like polo. In 2008, he was called to play in the Swiss national team in his first European championship, where they came fourth, despite being one of the weakest teams on paper. “Polo isn’t so much a sport as a life,” he says. “It takes a lot of commitment. You play with a string of horses, rather than just one like in showjumping, but you still develop deep connections with them. The whole process of getting to know your horse takes about five years. Once he’s ready, there’s a deep satisfaction because you put a lot of work into that relationship.” But polo, he points out, is not just about the game itself. “I like to win but I also love the inclusivity. I’ve been lucky enough to play at some wonderful properties all over the world. You shake hands at the end and then you all go and have a beer and an asado – an Argentinian barbecue – which is an essential element of polo. That brings everybody together. “Polo is not just about the players but also everyone else – the grooms in particular. On our farm, we would deliberately hire grooms who were ex-convicts: in a society where class differences are so visible, it is wonderful to see such a diversity of people standing together, regardless of perceived social class and status, brought together by horses and this game.”

Howard agrees that the people who play are an essential part of the sport. “People who play polo tend to be entrepreneurial doers,” he says. “It makes no difference who you are on the polo field – it’s no holds barred out there.” As a British Army officer serving in the 1970s, he wasn’t so much introduced to polo as pretty much ordered into it. “My commanding officer said to me: ‘Flood, you know how to ride. You should be playing polo. Report to the Guards Polo Club for lessons.’ And that was it!” He has played as an amateur all over the world ever since and, in 2018, organised a highly successful friendly polo tournament between Aiglon and Gordonstoun alumni. “I’ve met some wonderful people from all walks of life,” he says. John also loves the adrenaline rush that comes when you’re on top of an animal that weighs 10 times as much as you do. His passion was team chasing: a team must cover a cross-country course in the fastest time possible, jumping anything in their way. “I had a big Irish hunter called Huntley that could jump like a stag. It was pretty scary! With Huntley, the bigger the jump, the better. He’d just walk through the small ones! Luckily, with team chasing, the jumps were never small.” He loves the variety of the equestrian life: after he stopped cross-country, he acted as groom to his wife, Sue, an accomplished horsewoman, on their working farm where they also took in retired and convalescent horses. One grazing livery, a quarterhorse, inspired Sue to take up Western riding, which is based on the style of riding from American ranches. “I loved the Western scene,” says John. “Sue had tremendous fun at Western shows, and great success.”

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(Delaware, 2003) Sacha’s father introduced him to polo as a teenager, and he developed his skills playing for Polo Club de Veytay in Geneva. In 2008, he was part of the Swiss national team that came fourth in the European campaign and has won at the Gstaad Open and Zurich Open.

For Virginia, however, riding is less about the adrenaline than the connection between horse and rider that Dressage demands. When she began to ride seriously again as an adult, she first tried showjumping. “But I soon discovered I felt happier when the horse stayed on the ground!” she says. “That’s when I discovered Dressage.” Since 1912, Dressage has been an Olympic sport, where the rider and the horse work together to perform a series of movements: almost like dancing. But it has its origins as far back as Ancient Greek war manoeuvres, where the horse was trained to perform movements to intimidate the enemy and keep both horse and rider alive. “Dressage can look very traditional in some ways,” says Virginia. “Until recently, we didn’t wear helmets but top hats. We still wear tails, which is like riding in a suit and can be very hot – you envy those athletes wearing shorts! But equestrian disciplines are the only Olympic disciplines where men and women compete in the same categories, and we can also continue to shine later in life. In the last Olympics, the winner of the showjumping gold medal was 58 years old. I’m 59 and I’ve only competed at Dressage’s highest level in the past 10 years.” She has competed in many international events on several beloved horses, including Lennox, who sadly passed away. The bond between owner and horse is a strong one, and the love Virginia has for her lost companion and friend is clear. “He had so much talent and ability and learned really quickly.



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I remember, once, he bit me. I was outraged! And he just looked at me. We got him ready and then he did everything in the lesson absolutely perfectly. It was like his feet weren’t even touching the ground. It was almost like he was saying sorry.” And it is this connection which continues to fascinate Todd. Along with breeding Welsh cobs and selling them to buyers all over the world, he and Bonnie compete in driving, riding and in-hand competitions and also are keen to share the therapeutic benefits of being with horses. “We find that there’s a lot of healing which comes from being around horses when you have a distressed background,” says Todd, who has a Master’s in pastoral care. Their horses have won many championships but, he says, the best moment is witnessing the birth of a foal. “It is the greatest joy, every year,” he says. “We have been there for most of the births, which is hard to do – we have video cameras and sensors and alarms. To be at the birth is to imprint them with a lifelong love which gives them a special connection with you. I am on the ground with them, consoling the mare, carefully pulling back the sack from the foal’s muzzle and making sure the airways are clear before the umbilical cord breaks. It’s such a privilege to see the birth and then watch the horse grow up. Horses have this tremendous power, relative to weak mortals like us. But they grace us with consideration when they’ve been raised with love and fair boundaries. They just give back.”


(Clairmont, 1965)

John grew up surrounded by horses and found a passion for team-chasing over a cross-country course. Once retired, he and his wife, Sue, set up a working farm that takes in retired and convalescing horses.

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Like sports? Love music? So do we. That's why we sponsor over 650 events and associations every year.

because trust matters

46 Personal best 48 Meet the student

37 Class notes 44 Recreation


Class notes

Share your news via, and stay in touch with the Aiglon community at A family affair in Thailand After graduating from Scripps College in California USA in 1998, I returned to Thailand to complete my MBA at Sasin, Chulalongkorn University. In 2002, I joined the family’s corporate travel management company and spent years travelling to meetings and conferences around the world. I got married in 2019 to Chiroj Charanawat, and we welcomed our baby daughter, Reina Charanawat, on 21 July 2020. It was a wonderful feeling being a new mother in my mid-40s. These days, I split the time between work and raising my daughter at our home in Bangkok, Thailand. Tanya Pirapokin (Clairmont, 1994)

Illustrations by James Olstein

And they call it... puppy love I am living and working in London running ZDLUX&Co., my luxury Communications and PR agency. And as of February I am the new ‘mom’ to a fur baby, Zac, an Irish Doodle who has, as I write, already grown to 13kg. Despite the difficulties that come with a puppy, if I could I would leave my job and spend all day playing with him. Here is a picture of Zac on the day we met up with Marcos Rosello (Delaware, 1994) for a post-lockdown walk in London. Zeina Dakak (Clairmont, 1994)

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AGES 16-17

Summer School


AGES 8-12



Class of 2000 move online London calling I am a mom of 18-month-old Aurora Dhirani, living in London and working as a software engineer at JP Morgan. I graduated from Queen Mary University of London in 2017 and joined JP Morgan on the graduate program. I am also an artist – I make abstract paintings. Anastasia Smirnova (Le Cerf, 2012)

Sad news of Lisiane Lefevre With great sadness, I recently learned of the death of Lisiane Lefevre, who I had last seen in 2016 at our Class Reunion. I hadn’t realised she had already retired – she was still so active with the Aiglon community. At one point she was offered a position at the University in Lausanne but, devoted to her students, she preferred to remain at Aiglon. In addition to the wonderful plays she directed, she could recite innumerable poetry and theatre passages by rote with exceptional animation for the delight of her audiences. She was one of the few people who would ask me what I was reading as opposed to telling me what to read (which I also appreciate!). She also kicked me out of class on occasion – I would wait 15 minutes and poke my head back in the door to ask if I could come in again. At the time, I was the top student in her class and she could make me laugh pretty hard when trying to drive home a lesson. I owe her my career in teaching French. I feel like I’ve lost a lifelong friend. Elaine De Martin-Webster (Clairmont, 1976)

The Class of 2000 was planning its 20th Graduation Reunion for July 2020, with more than 30 alumni set to meet together 20 years after receiving our diplomas. We, of course, know the rest of the story. While international flights stopped and events were cancelled across the world, our class moved online. One of the memorable events was my birthday, when about 15 alumni joined together for a zoom celebration! Dmitri Dogaev (Belvedere, 2000)

A friendly face in Washington Missing the 70th reunion was a big letdown for me – the shutting down of several universities and changing of management companies compelled me unfortunately to stay in DC. I was, however, pleased to run into my old roommate Adam Barnes (Delaware, 1977) on Bald Head Island, North Carolina, where he had been working and I had been visiting for years without being aware of it! Just shows how it pays to stay in touch. I have, however, been in regular contact with Nick Besobraov (Belvedere, 1977), with whom I share a condo in Jackson Hole, and he is in contact with Jeffery Benoliel (Alpina, 1976), who is also a regular visitor. My mother is currently residing in Villars, so I hope to make some more frequent visits. If I may be of any assistance to any Aiglon alumni moving to the Washington DC area, I can be contacted through our apartment building, the Carillon House at 2500 Wisconsin Ave. N.W. 20007 or by my e-mail: Gerald Taylor (Delaware, 1977)



Whale watching

Establishing an art gallery After graduating from Aiglon in 2015, I attended SOAS University London to study History of Art, with a focus on East and South East Asian Art. The natural progression from that was to get work experience in the Asian art market, so after completing my degree, I interned at Christie’s Hong Kong in Classical Chinese art. My aspiration was to always live and build a career in London, and so I worked for Sotheby’s London in various departments, ranging from Contemporary and Impressionist to Russian Art. My work experience in auction houses and galleries gave me a firm foundation in the art world, from which I was able to build my own gallery. In October 2020, Karnik Gallery was born. My business partner and I, both 24, decided to pursue this in arguably the most difficult time this century – the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop us, and we saw it as a real test of our venture. At Karnik Gallery, a London-based art dealership and curatorial art platform, we work with a range of international artists from across Europe, the Middle East and beyond. We look for work that is innovative and challenging, yet draws references from artistic traditions of the past. Jessica Nicholls (Exeter, 2015)

I founded Mingan Island Cetacean Study/Station de Recherche des Iles Mingan in 1979 with the idea to carry out field studies of baleen whales in the Gulf of St Lawrence on the Quebec North Shore. We were the first to carry out long-term studies of cetaceans in the St Lawrence, and, in particular the first to carry out long-term studies of endangered blue whales. At first we did not know for sure that these would be long-term studies, but through the dedicated efforts of many people over 42 years, we have accumulated a vast amount of data on several species’ dispersal, distribution, migration, genetics, acoustics and much more. This year, the fieldwork was greatly curtailed, but we were able to carry out some field studies of blue whales, which has led to more than 70 blue whales being observed and individually identified so far. We can identify individuals of several species of whale through images of their pigmentation patterns. In the case of the blue whale, the pigmentation pattern used is the mottling characteristic of the species. Hopefully advances in the battle against Covid will enable us to have a full field season this summer. Richard Sears (Alpina, 1970)

Benefits of ‘inner work’ Life is good. We were blessed with a ‘good lockdown’, although we feel for the majority of people who had, and are still having, a tough time. My wife and I offer online and in-person accelerated life transformation for leaders, entrepreneurs, high-achievers, and world-changers at We believe change happens from the inside out and from the top down. Taking people on a transformational journey in which they release what is holding them back, tap into their true potential and multiply their impact in the world has been a pleasure to witness. One thing we have seen with our clients is that those who have done their inner work have been having a superb time in life and business at this time. Needless to say, we’re optimistic for the future. Wishing Aiglonians get the opportunity to do their ‘inner work‘ at school, as this will serve them immensely on life off the mountain. Misha Baumann (Delaware, 1989)

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Alexandra ‘Noni’ Kanyotu (Exeter, 1994)

Taylor Dinerman (Belvedere, 1971)

Elizabeth Senn (Staff 1966-1992)

Among various memories of Noni – the beanie, long black trench coat, painful and sad poetry, and beautiful pictures – the one thing we all remember of her is that incredible, warm, bright smile that lit her and everything around her up. She will always be remembered as an exceptionally kind, gentle-natured, sensitive and soulful person. Our thoughts are with her three girls, Tracy, Amy and Sanaa, in Kenya. Tribute by the Class of 1994.

Recently, The Space Review lost one of its longtime contributors, Taylor Dinerman. With a passion for space policy, he was a regular contributor to various publications and think tanks such as the National Review, Gatestone Institute, Hudson Institute and the Wall Street Journal. His knowledge and expertise gained him friendships and contacts with such luminaries as Apollo astronauts, admirals and generals, developers of the Strategic Defense Initiative and various advocacy groups. He will be greatly missed.

We’re sad to report the death of Elizabeth, teacher, Clairmont Housemother and wife of Aiglon deputy headmaster, Teddy. During her life, she was able to affect the lives of many for good. Her family, friends, colleagues and pupils will remember her as an intelligent and witty woman who often spoke bluntly but who also showed love and concern for others, and never shied from putting her considerable energy into getting done what was important. Her life’s journey had brought her a long way from her Yorkshire roots, but the family was pleased she was able to pass her declining years with her daughter Rosie’s family in Leeds, and that they were with her until the end.

Elizabeth (Betty) Dewulf

Raymond Massa (Alpina, 1977)

We send our thanks to Tony Hyde (Staff 2000-09) for informing us of the sad news of the passing of Betty Dewulf-Relph, who worked in the Aiglon general office in the 1980s. She was 92 when she died in Ollon in November. Betty is seen in this photo with her granddaughter, Fanny Smith, a Swiss freestyle skier and Olympic silver medallist who represented Switzerland in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics.

We’re very sorry to report that Raymond Massa passed away in Tampa, Florida, in January, shortly after his 62nd birthday, after a valiant battle with leukaemia. He will be remembered for his generosity, kindness, sharp intellect and keen business sense. But above all, Ray was a family man. Our sincere condolences go out to Viviane and the children Ray was so proud of – Evelyne, Alexander and Laurent.


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Name: Vera Smirnova House: Le Cerf Year of leaving: 2013

Chris Gallagher (Clairmont, 1964) It is with great sadness that we announce that our long time colleague and dear friend, Chris Gallagher, passed away on 27 April 2021 in Italy. He is survived by his wife Dorrie. Chris was born in Bogota, Colombia, and lived in Italy with his parents before joining Aiglon in 1955. In 1964, he went to university in the United States, and immediately after graduating moved to Belgium. He then lived mostly in Italy until his death. As a student of Aiglon, Chris knew John Corlette well. He was on the Student Council and served as Head Boy in his final year. He was also an extraordinary sportsman – captain of the ski team and an ADISR champion in many categories. During his last year at Aiglon he also captained the football and ice hockey teams. Chris spent many years as an active member of Aiglon’s Governing Body. He was a Board member for 16 years, then a Trustee, and remained an Honorary Member of the Aiglon College Association until his death. Both the ACA and ACSSA Boards will miss Chris’s great contribution and participation in the governance of Aiglon. He will remain in our hearts and be missed by all members of the Aiglon community who knew him well. Tribute by Nick Tate (Chair of the ACA) and Tony Jashanmal (Chair of the ACSSA)

What’s hot: Right now I’m a PhD student at UCLA, studying Civil and Environmental Engineering. I was always into science – particularly chemistry – and maths. I had a great teacher at Aiglon, too: Miss Carpenter (now Mrs Barré). After I left Aiglon, I went to the University of San Diego and got my Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering. From there, I did my Chemical Engineering Master’s in New York. I then went into banking – I was offered a position at UBS and was very happy to go back to Switzerland. But I felt that I wanted to take my chemical engineering expertise and switch it to something more applied. That led me to my current programme. We have a great community of women scientists at UCLA and I’m also involved in Women in Stem: Breaking Barriers (WiSTEM), an organisation aimed at empowering women in STEM. We recently organised our first ever conference at UCLA, with 2020 Nobel Prize winner Andrea Ghez, the UCLA distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, as our key speaker – she was incredibly inspiring. What’s next: I’m hoping to complete my PhD at some point next year. I haven’t got a set idea of what I’d like to do next; certainly a job which combines my technical and soft skills side – consulting, possibly. It would be great to also combine my experience and consult in an area like sustainability and the environment, or sustainable finance. I’m pretty confident that there is something out there which will be a good fit for me and which I’ll enjoy. I’m certainly looking to stay in Southern California: I love the lifestyle here. What’s Aiglon: Aiglon was a big and important experience for me and I loved every moment of my time there. I learned a lot from living in such a diverse community. Expeditions were my favourite thing and I still go hiking every month, and play volleyball. Being a volleyball team captain and a prefect helped me to learn about leadership: how important it is to do the right thing when people look up to you. And I treasure the sense of community – both when I was at school and ever since I left. I feel like whenever someone from Aiglon is in LA, we always meet up.

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R E C R E AT I O N Where Aiglonians demonstrate that while Aiglon may have changed over the decades... it hasn’t changed quite as much as you might think. Photography Joe McGorty



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Switching up: 1977/2021 Ok, so we don’t know the exact year. (Can you help? We think 1977). And we’re not sure exactly which floor we’re on (though we do know it’s definitely a corner room). But what we do know is that when it comes to hanging out in your pyjamas, no one can beat the Clairmont girls, whether that’s Patricia Gucci (Clairmont, 1982), Kimberley Dolkart (Clairmont, 1981) and Marjan Punt (Clairmont, 1979) – or (left), current Clairmont students Ekin Kolsal (Year 11), Muskaan Saha (Year 12) and Liya Manenkova (Year 10). 1977 or 2021, the furniture and the fashion might have changed, but the gossip, the friendships and the sense of home? Those are timeless.

Do you have an image of your time at Aiglon you’d like us to recreate? Email your suggestions to Issue 16




MUSIC OF THE SPHERES Inspired by Minnie Mouse, Séléné Luyet says playing the harp transports her to another world. Words Lucy Jolin Photography Joe McGorty



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My harp teacher once played me her version of Queen’s We Are The Champions. It sounded amazing. If I was going to play cover versions, I’d definitely go for Queen

he harp holds a very special place in the pantheon of musical instruments. Its beautiful, ethereal notes have often been a soundtrack to the most profound of human experiences: religion, myth, love. But for Séléné Luyet (Le Cerf, Year 10), a fascination with the instrument started in a somewhat more prosaic setting: in front of the TV watching a Mickey Mouse cartoon. “I remember very clearly seeing Minnie Mouse playing the harp and I told my mother that I wanted to do that!” she remembers. “I was only about three years old at the time and she told me that my hands were too little. But she promised that if I still wanted to play by the time I was seven, she would get me a harp.” Séléné’s passion for the harp didn’t abate, and on her seventh birthday, her mother fulfilled her promise. She was still too small for the standard harp – which stands around 180cm tall – so she played a child-size version. She soon found out that the harp is a challenging instrument in many different ways. “It was difficult to start with, and it became more difficult when I grew enough to play a full-size harp – it has pedals, which the child-sized ones don’t,” she says. “You have to use your feet to press the pedals and you have to pluck the strings with your hands at the same time. But it’s worth it, because it’s such a beautiful instrument and makes such a wonderful sound.” Transporting a 36kg-harp – for comparison, about the same weight as a full, five-gallon container of water – is a feat in itself. “I’m always a bit nervous when we have to put it in the back of the car!” says Séléné. This substantial instrument breaks easily: harp strings, in particular, are fragile, even though they are made of steel. So, a good harp player also needs tender but strong hands that can stretch to create those heavenly chords.


“It took a little while for me to get that strength,” says Séléné, who has now been playing for nine years. “There have been many occasions where I’ve had to work very hard at a piece in order to get it right. Playing an instrument like this – or any instrument – teaches you patience. You have to do it again and again to do it perfectly, but it’s worth all the effort. It’s particularly fun to play an instrument which is a little bit unusual. You should always follow your passion and don’t listen to people who say you shouldn’t take something up because it’s out of the norm, or too difficult.” Although most of the pieces she plays are classical – her favourite piece is François-Joseph Naderman’s Sonata No. 3 – but she also enjoys jazz and has a particular fondness for Queen. “My harp teacher once played me her version of We Are The Champions, which I absolutely loved,” she says. “It sounded amazing. If I was going to play cover versions, I’d definitely go for Queen.” For Séléné – who admits to being “a little shy” – the joy of playing the harp is a very personal one. “I used to be an ice skater, and that’s very much all about performance,” she says. “But I’m not confident enough to play the harp in public. It will always be a part of my life, but it probably won’t be my career. “For me, the best moments are when I’m playing purely for fun. When I play with my teacher, in particular, it’s always so relaxing and so beautiful to hear. It just transports me into another world.” Issue 16





LIFE IN CONTRAST Aiglon life is a world away from the usual challenges for Palestinian Anas Abbassi (Delaware, Year 12). Words Becky Allen Photography Joe McGorty

here is a couplet on his bedroom wall that speaks volumes about Anas Abbassi. Taken from Mahmoud Darwish’s poem Diary of a Palestinian Wound, and written in Arabic, it reads: “My country is not a suitcase. I am not a traveller.” “In lots of ways it contradicts what I am doing,” says Anas, “but given that I’m far from home and want to remember where I come from, it’s the perfect quote for me.” Reflecting on his first year at Aiglon, Anas says living and studying in Villars is a huge contrast to life in Palestine. “I live in Jerusalem and went to school in Bethlehem, which meant passing through a border crossing every day. I enjoy living there, but sometimes, due to the conflict, there are challenges.” As well as its peace and security, Anas is relishing all that Aiglon has to offer, from skiing and stargazing to cheese fondue and house dinners at Delaware. He’s even taken his first Alpine winter in his stride. “I’m used to temperatures of 20-35°C every day, so the cold took me by surprise! But you soon get used to it, and when you start taking in the sights and the outside activities like skiing, it’s really amazing,” he says. Long nights and dark skies have fed his passion for physics and astronomy, during what has been an exciting winter for space exploration. “I like delving as deeply as I can into things, so I joined the astronomy club and we’ve been able to use Aiglon’s observatory to take pictures of Mars,” he says. “We are also following the Mars Curiosity rover. Seeing the first pictures it sent back from the ‘Red Planet’ was amazing – it gives you a totally different perspective for a while; a much wider one.” Coupled with the cold, there’s also been the warmth of Delaware family life and the discovery of Swiss




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Anas Abbassi says he arrived at Aiglon feeling like a traveller but now views his friends in Delaware as a “second family”.

cheese in all its many forms. “My mum cooks Palestinian dishes like waraq dawali – vine leaves stuffed with rice and beef and rolled up into fat fingers. She cooks them with spices, lemon and a tomato sauce, and they’re really tasty. The food here is very different, so if I could take something home from Villars for my mum to try, it would have to be fondue, because it’s a dish that’s made for sharing.” And if he could share just one event from his first year at Aiglon, it would, he says, be the friendships he’s made through simply breaking bread together. “My most memorable moment was our house dinner, just before Christmas. The whole house gathered, we did some activities and ate together. It’s the best way to get to know people at a much deeper level. So, while I arrived feeling like a traveller, now I feel like it’s a second family.”

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