AIGL ON THE MAGAZINE
ISSUE 14 SUMMER/AUTUMN 2020 School: What happened when Aiglon went digital Mountain: Service – whether at home or abroad – can be life-changing Ideas: Why going off-script isn’t an option when you’ve got lines to learn People: The Aiglonian restaurateurs serving the hottest plates in town SWITZERLAND
SUMMER / AUTUMN 2020
Aiglonology 03 Letters 04 View from the mountain 07 Here’s looking at you 08 Staff room 09 News 10 Around the mountain 12 Together 13 Diary
The orange tent is an iconic piece of Aiglon kit, but what’s its story?
Why service is a life-changing and central part of the Aiglon experience.
Just how do Aiglonians get their lines to stick for the school production?
The Aiglon community’s resilience in the face of the global pandemic.
Meet the Aiglonian restaurateurs serving the hottest plates in town.
Why Year 13 student Léa Henaux loves being a mentor in the Junior School.
Getting in tents 37 Class notes 44 Why I love… 46 Personal best 48 Behind the scenes
Learning lines 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.
Open hearts, open minds
Strength in numbers
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 www.ybm.co.uk
Pay it forward
W E LC O M E TO I S S U E 1 4 Extraordinary times, but Aiglon and its community have risen to the challenge. Valerie Scullion Director of Admissions and Marketing
Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been an extraordinary six months for our global community. As news reports of a virus in Wuhan came in, teachers and houseparents on the mountain started to make plans for a digital Aiglon, so when the lockdown was imposed, we were ready to deliver teaching and learning in a completely new, but totally Aiglon, way. What was it like to revolutionise Aiglon? You can read Mrs Nicola Sparrow’s thoughts on page 4 – and find out what it has really been like for our students on page 26. I particularly want to acknowledge our graduating class: this isn’t the way we wanted your time at Aiglon to end, without a proper send-off, but we can’t wait to welcome you back in the first week of January to truly celebrate your success. At Aiglon, we aim to prepare you for everything life might throw at you, and no one can take away what you have achieved during your time here. Finally, we want to recognise the many, many contributions Aiglonians around the world have made to the fight against Covid-19. Service, as you can read on page 16, is at the heart of our school’s values – there has never been a time when it has been more needed. Until we meet again on the mountain.
Stories to share? Feedback? Suggestions? We love to hear your thoughts. Get in touch and join the Aiglon conversation.
Photography by Joe McGorty, illustration by James Olstein
AIGL ON THE MAGAZINE
I’ve just received the latest issue of The Aiglon Magazine: I greatly appreciate a gesture that revives some wonderful memories of old times spent at Aiglon. The articles are all very interesting and each of them underscores the distance – not only on the timescale – between the young generations and the immediate post-war generation which is mine. In 1953, it was not taken for granted that a 15-year-old boy would spend a summer holiday away from home – and abroad. Stepping into the Aiglon chalet marked a turning point in my life, the first one of the many that were to follow. The House Master was John Corlette himself: I was appointed as Provost, since I was a bit older than the rest of the small student community. I shared a rather spartan room in the basement with a Chinese boy (possibly the first person from China I had ever met), and a good part of the day was taken up with English lessons: so I had in Switzerland my very early contact with this language. The programme included promenades around Villars and also long-range expeditions with the BVB railroad, up to the meadows around Bretaye. I recall a night in a barn, sleeping on straw while cows were banqueting on our supplies left outside:
great memories, great fun – and no digital gadgets. And then there was the great excitement: a strictly prohibited jump with the fire-escape rope from the second floor, slowed down by a sort of windmill mechanism. That Aiglon memories remain so vivid after almost 70 years means that the impact of that experience has been really deep, a depth I have emotionally felt at the Beautiful opening of my conversation in front of your students. Gianguido Castagno (1952)
T H E A I G L O N M AGA Z I N E
Chic and casual, cosy and authentic, the Chalet RoyAlp Hôtel & Spa is a breath of fresh air in the Swiss Alps.
ISSUE 13 WINTER/SPRING 2020 School: Why there’s nothing like the feeling of getting a parcel in the post Mountain: Preparing the pistes – the team behind the secret life of the slopes Ideas: Why lifelong friendship is the key to wellbeing People: We meet the Aiglonians with a passion for flying high
CHALET ROYALP HÔTEL & SPA Domaine de Rochegrise • CH –1884 Villars-sur-Ollon • Switzerland T +41 24 495 90 90 • info@RoyAlp.ch • www.RoyAlp.ch
Fantastic surprise I was delighted to find, upon opening the latest issue of the Aiglon Magazine, a full-colour 70th-anniversary booklet included – a fantastic surprise! It brought back memories of the wonderful weekend last year during which many hundreds of alumni and their friends and associates celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of Aiglon by John Corlette. The booklet gives a wonderful précis of the event and will serve as a permanent reminder to all who attended – and remind those who were unable to attend just what they missed! I know things like the booklet don’t just happen. Lots of hard work and effort behind the scenes are required to produce such a memento, so a big thanks to all concerned.
Chris Simmons (Alpina, 1967)
Inspiring read A huge congratulations on another amazing Aiglon Magazine. I’ve just got back to Lausanne from having spent some time in Singapore – the downtime meant I could read the magazine cover to cover! Thanks for the insightful and inspiring read. Lucy Jay-Kennedy (Clairmont, 1999)
Join the conversation! www.aiglonlife.ch email: email@example.com write to: Aiglon Magazine, Aiglon College, Avenue Centrale 61, 1885 Chesières, Switzerland Facebook: www.facebook.com/aiglon Twitter: @aigloncollege Instagram: @aiglonswitzerland
V I E W F R O M T H E M O U N TA I N
R E AC H I N G THE PEAK Leading Aiglon through the Covid-19 crisis has taken mind, body and spirit – as Head of School Nicola Sparrow explains. Interview Lucy Jolin Photography Joe McGorty
IND, BODY AND SPIRIT: I’VE BEEN thinking about these a lot recently. In the classroom, we expand our minds, learning new skills and ideas. On the sports field and on the mountain, our bodies grow strong and stay healthy. These are, of course, great things, and rightly the three things that underpin our school ethos. But it strikes me that the greatest of these is spirit – yet it’s the hardest thing to pin down, and perhaps the part that’s talked about the least. Spirit, for me, is where it all starts. It’s the people we are and the people we become through the Aiglon experience. It’s about adaptability, ingenuity, innovation and having the resilience to cope with whatever is thrown at you. It’s having the determination to win that match, or get those great results – but not being defined by them. And it’s about going out into the world with a certain type of positivity. So, while the Covid-19 crisis changed everything in one sense, in another, it was business as usual, because responding to challenges is what staff and students have always done here. Dealing with the pandemic has simply demonstrated that Aiglon spirit on a grand scale. I’ve found that spirit everywhere. It was there in the school hall in the last week of term, as students who were due to go to Ghana performed the music that they had learned for the trip, along with a song they had written especially for the Head of Music who is retiring this year. Those students had spent more than 100 hours preparing for this project. They had built their own ukeleles, ordered more to take with them and built a wonderful repertoire of music. Their plan was to perform concerts and run music lessons in schools, using music as a way to communicate across boundaries. When it was cancelled, the students were, of course, upset. But, at the end of term, they chose to make the best of things.
Opposite Nicola Sparrow photographed in Chalet Forbes, before the lockdown.
I’ve seen that same spirit in our online activities: during the semi-finals of our debate, for example. If we can’t hold the debate in the school hall, then we find a way to do it differently. It’s just what we do. I saw it in the rather unlikely setting of our local Co-op shop here at Aiglon, where I came across an Aiglon day student. I asked him what he had been doing and what had been the highlight of his week. His reply: the virtual Junior School assembly that we hold on a Friday afternoon, where all the Junior School students and teachers come online to say hello. And I also see it right now in all those Aiglon students across the world who are helping not just their school community, but their friends, family and neighbours. Our resilience makes us able to turn to those who are struggling and help them to be resilient, too. Our ability to test ourselves physically on the mountains might have been restricted, but we can be inspired by them still. At Aiglon, when we look at a mountain, we don’t waste time worrying about whether or not we can get to the top. We get up the first part, set up camp, and then we work out how to get to the next destination, a little higher up, and so on. We take everyone with us. We work together, we help each other, and that’s how we reach the peak – together, wherever we are.
Spirit is the people we are and the people we become. It’s about adaptability, ingenuity, innovation and having the resilience to cope
AGES 8 - 12
AGES 13 - 15
AGES 16 - 17
Let the adventure begin! Now featuring new courses and programmes in 2021! When students join the Aiglon Summer School programme, they are entering not just as learners but explorers. Our rich timetable of lessons combined with a series of unique outdoor adventure opportunities will ensure they leave more confident, more capable and hungry for what the world has to offer. We welcome students aged 8-17 to the Summer School for 2, 3 and 4 week programmes!
H E R E ’ S L O O K I N G AT YO U
H AV E W H E E L S , W I L L T R AV E L When David Easum (Delaware, 1976) relocated from Nigeria to Burundi, he decided to take the scenic route. Words Helena Pozniak
AVID EASUM (DELAWARE, 1976) has twin passions: biking and Africa. Which is why, when he moved back to Bujumbura from Lagos in 2018, he ended up turning it into a 10,000km road trip on his beloved Honda motorcycle. “It just seemed like the most fun way of getting from Nigeria to Burundi,” says David, who has lived in Africa for much of his life, and was preparing to start a new job in neighbouring Rwanda. “There was an incredible moment at the start, when I left Lagos accompanied by a motorcade of the city’s biker gangs. These guys looked like thugs, but they were incredibly friendly. They really looked after me.” The route he took to Burundi was not the most efficient – but the direct route would have led him through some of the worst of the continent’s hazards and conflicts. After riding through south-east Nigeria, he loaded the bike on to a small ship to bypass the Cameroonian hotspot of Ambazonia, landing in a smuggler’s port not far from Douala. Back on land, he pushed on into Gabon, through the Republic of
In the saddle David covered 10,000km in five weeks, on a journey that took him through Gabon and past the Victoria Falls.
Congo, then down through Angola. Carrying on into Namibia, he “turned left for Zambia”. After riding past the Victoria Falls, it was time to turn back north toward Tanzania, along the shore of Lake Tanganyika, finally arriving in Bujumbura after roughly five weeks of riding – just 3,000km away from his start as the crow flies. He arrived on a Saturday and his new job in Rwanda began on the Monday. David’s sense of adventure was cemented during his two years at Aiglon. “The skiing and the expeditions built on a thrill-seeking spirit I already had,” he remembers. “My dad was US ambassador in Ouagadougou (in Burkina Faso) at the time when my brother and I went to Aiglon. He wasn’t a typical office guy, and I remember we’d often go camping and on other adventures. Africa was a different environment. We weren’t sure of electricity supply, or whether the next storm would rip the roof off.” Although homesick during his first year at Aiglon, he soon made friends. He remembers the strictness with fondness – “rules like no white sugar, no hair below collars and so on”. He recalls ruefully being demoted in the rank system from red to green, and missing out on a privilege or two – and, of course, the punishment laps around the school. “These things are part of growing up.” Although the first to admit that he wasn’t a star student while at school, David eventually went on to complete a degree and MBA with honours at Fordham University in New York. His experience living and working in Africa has led him to a rewarding career on the continent – notably in telecommunications and then with a pioneering renewable-energy firm in Rwanda. And he puts his handiness with bikes down to a lifetime of tinkering and some early lessons from the revered physics master, Tony Hyde. “Instead of outdoor activities you could do mechanics. We changed the brakes on his car – I think he just wanted to avoid getting his own hands dirty. But it was fun – I have great memories.”
S TA F F R O O M
THE SOUNDS OF MUSIC Nigel and Jackie Gaston have dedicated their careers to nurturing talent on the mountain.
Legacy lives on Nigel and Jackie Gaston have been inspiring Aiglon students, including Nicholas Gorham (above, Delaware, 2014) and Fresia Mesi (right, Le Cerf, 2015) since 2008.
ROM BAGPIPES TO ALPHORNS – and plenty in between – Jackie and Nigel Gaston have been using music to change people’s lives for their entire professional careers. Now, as they head back to their beloved Scotland for retirement, they can look back at their time at Aiglon knowing that their legacy will live on. “Music has a unique way of bringing people together, and creating enjoyment skills that will last a lifetime,” says Mr Gaston. “The enthusiasm and vibrancy is infectious; I’ve seen students arrive here with little experience of music who have then totally fallen in love with it. It’s so powerful.” The Gastons have been inspiring students since they joined Aiglon in 2008, both as Houseparents (Le Cerf) and as music teachers. A former professional musician who has conducted at the Royal Albert Hall in London and performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Mr Gaston is Head of Music, and is – technically at least – Mrs Gaston’s boss. “It helps that we are best friends,” says Mrs Gaston. “I can’t imagine working any other way.” Their own daughters – now studying and working in Scotland – used to form part of Le Cerf’s community, and mucked in with everyone else, and Mrs Gaston remembers this as a happy family time. Now one of her main tasks is getting nearly 60 teenage boys out of Delaware – where she’s Aide de Maison – in time for morning lessons, before a day of giving singing lessons. “Dealing with boys came as a real shock after the all-girl Le Cerf,” laughs Mrs Gaston. “I was only used to daughters – even my dog was a girl. I’ve learned you have to be enthusiastic and do a lot of cajoling. “Working hands-on is what I love. I believe everyone can sing – it’s just about how much they believe that. Of course, some are better than others, but the ultimate thrill for me is seeing a student grow in confidence, rising to the challenge of doing something they’ve never done before. It’s inspiring and the best part of what I do, and it’s what I’ll miss the most.” Music for both boys and girls has flourished under the Gastons’ watch, with numbers soaring – high percentages of students opt to study IGCSE Music, feeding into a healthy interest in the IB – and content keeping pace with contemporary developments. “And we’re now sending people off to study music at universities such as NYU Tisch, Royal Holloway, Edinburgh and Berklee College of Music,” says Mr Gaston. Retirement will see life for the couple become calmer, as they head to their home in the Scottish Highlands. While they will miss the Alps, the expeditions, the contact with students and the “24/7 business” of boarding-school life, there are some things Mr Gaston won’t miss. “I’ll be glad to see the back of meetings and paperwork: I know they’re necessary, but they really don’t make life more exciting! Like Jackie, I’ve always been 100 per cent about spending time with kids in the classroom. “Learning by making and practising music is uplifting. As a teacher, you can spot and nurture natural talent, and that can be transformative for a student. That’s the endgame – giving them something they can take away and enjoy. My biggest reward has been working with young adults and watching them develop.”
News The latest news from the Aiglon community and beyond. To find out more, visit www.aiglon.ch/ latest-news
Aiglon hosted a virtual graduation in June, broadcasting live from the school campus to celebrate all that the Class of 2020 has accomplished. “I am proud of you all,” said Mrs Nicola Sparrow, Head of School, “and in a world where the future is uncertain, I am certain that the Class of 2020 will go on to great things, and continue to make Aiglon, their parents and themselves proud.” Plans have been made to host a live event on Friday 8 January 2021.
Aiglon was proud to have responded to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic with a full remote-learning model. Find out more about the Aiglon response in the feature on page 26.
Aiglon graduates are, once again, on their way to a host of top universities across the world. A total of 78 students in the Class of 2020 submitted 566 applications to universities in 14 countries, while six alumni who had taken gap years submitted UCAS and common applications. This year, applications were submitted to universities in Australia, Canada, China, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the United States.
Mr John Turner, Head of Science, will be leaving at the end of this term to take up a new opportunity in Hong Kong. We wish him all the best, and express particular thanks to him for his dedicated support of The Aiglon Magazine as a member of its editorial committee since the beginning. Another member of that committee, Seth Barker, is unveiled this issue as the new Managing Editor.
A R O U N D T H E M O U N TA I N
S A LT O F T H E E A R T H The Bex mine has been delivering up â€˜white goldâ€™ for more than 300 years, making it the oldest business in the region. Words Sarah Woodward Photography David Nguyen and Sedrik Nemeth
PEOPLE THINK ABOUT CLOCKS, chocolate and banks when you mention Switzerland. They rarely mention salt.” Henry Savioz, head of the guides and the animation programme at Fondation des Mines de Sel de Bex, thinks it’s about time that changed. “The Bex salt mine has some of the purest salt on the planet, white gold, preserved in the heart of the mountain for more than 100 million years,” he says. “As the oldest business in the region, producing a natural, highquality product that is sustainably mined, it should be celebrated.” Less than 10km from Aiglon’s doorstep, Bex is the last active salt mine in the country. “The temperature inside the mine is a constant 18°C, so we get more visitors when it is raining on the ski slopes in winter or when there is a heatwave in summer. School groups, though, come all year round and it is a great way to understand geology. Here we are, 600km from the ocean – and yet we have salt.” More than 100 tons of salt are extracted daily at the mine, which has its own hydro-electric plant to power production of everything from ordinary table salt to the delicate Fleur des Alpes, as well as skincare products. “We were green before it became fashionable,” says Henry, “and we still use the ancient methods of production for Fleur des Alpes.” An audiovisual presentation, given in a reservoir dug in 1826, explains the mine’s history to the 80,000
Going under For more than 500 years, the Sel des Alpes has been extracted from its rocky case at the Bex Salt Mines.
Insider S TAY
As eco-friendly as they come, Hotel Whitepod in nearby Les Cerniers consists of luxury pods surrounded by nature and with unobstructed views of Lac Léman.
The Salt Mines of Bex make up a vast underground labyrinth, several kilometres of which are open to the public, offering a unique insight into a hidden world.
tourists a year, who then enter the mine on the same miniature train that still carries the workers for their 6am start. “There is only one entrance to the mine,” Henry explains, “and our visitors are always surprised by our very practical train, which goes deep into the heart of the mountain. The train ride is what the children remember the most!” Adults, on the other hand, tend to be astounded by the sheer scale of the enterprise, which dates back to 1684 when a goatherd is believed to have discovered a spring running with saltwater. There are more than 40km of galleries, a tenth of which are currently open to the public to explore. Although some galleries can be quite tight – they were carved out by hand at the height of a typical 17th-century worker – there are also vast impressive chambers. “I am always reassured when I go into the mountain,” Henry says. “I like to know that I am following in the footsteps of people over the centuries. And each time I am amazed at how hard they worked, by hand, with hammer and chisel, to find a way to keep the mine profitable. The complex design of the mine is incredible. Each time I enter, I feel respect for the people who created this wonder.”
The restaurant at the Taverne du Dessaloir, right at the heart of the salt mines, offers light refreshments, while the Auberge du Bouillet caters for those looking for a larger meal.
Take a ride on the miners’ train and discover the most spectacular and most characteristic elements of the various mining techniques used through the ages. Issue 14
Away from the standard tours, the more adventurous can be guided through stunning galleries and hand-carved staircases with TrekkMines tours. AIGLON
COOKING UP A S TO R M From eggy bread to lemon meringue pie, after-school cookery with Fran Luco is a chance to get a first taste of ‘proper’ cooking. Words Helena Pozniak Photography Fabien Delétraz
HERE’S ONLY BEEN ONE DISASTER in Fran Luco’s kitchen – and even that tasted delicious. “It was a Mexican pudding,” she laughs. “I’d taken the cookery class with another colleague – she’d looked at the recipe and said, ‘Fran this is much too hard, it will never work.’ And it didn’t.” But that didn’t stop one of Ms Luco’s most enthusiastic students, Lise Munneke (La Casa, Year 6), tucking in. “It still tasted yummy,” says Lise, who has been to most of the Spanish teacher’s after-school cookery sessions. “I don’t normally like sweet things – I’m not a fan of cake, for example, although I will eat brownies – but this was delicious.” Lise is just one of the girls benefiting from Ms Luco’s passion for cooking. As Deputy Houseparent of La Casa, Ms Luco says it is lovely for the girls to return home to the smell of baking. “It makes it feel homey – the smell of cakes wafting through the house.” In fact, she’s been teaching La Casa’s junior girls to bake and prepare meals after school for the past two years. “It’s such a great
Diary The pick of global Aiglon events happening between September 2020 and January 2021.
experience – we do it for fun, and they are adorable, they love it,” she says. “Lise is a sweetie pie and a real star cook. She’d only been in school for a short while when she joined. She just loves cooking.” Like her recipes, Ms Luco’s classes, which she runs with French teacher Mrs Watson, pack a punch. Girls work in small groups to prepare a starter, main course and dessert, and at the end of each session, they’ll all sit down and eat the reward of their efforts together – and clear up in time for homework at 5.30 pm. “It is pretty manic,” Ms Luco admits. “But it’s important. Apart from the odd pot noodle, or roasting marshmallows over expedition campfires, this is the students’ first experience of ‘proper’ cooking.” The young cooks in Ms Luco’s classes come from Russia, Mexico, China, France, the Netherlands and more. They’ve been working their way through an international menu, though they’ve yet to tackle (French) haute cuisine – that’s on the agenda for next term. Next term, they also plan to invite Mrs Coe, a teacher from Japan, to share a secret or two about her national cuisine. Ms Luco has already introduced the girls to a dish from her native Chile – a lemon meringue pie, which, alongside pancakes, was one of Lise’s favourites. “I’ve tried cooking a few simple things at home,” says Lise, “and surprised my dad once with eggy bread, but I’m hoping to get better. I’m also hoping we can try a few things from my home in the Netherlands.” Ms Luco’s classes have become so popular she has had to move to the larger kitchens at Alpina, where mysteriously “boys and houseparents always seem to appear when we’ve got a lovely dish or dessert going. Our cooking has a cascade effect – very communal – and that’s lovely.”
The autumn term will start two weeks later than originally planned, with students returning on Saturday 12 September and lessons commencing on Monday 14 September. There will be no half-term break, and term ends (a week early) on Friday 11 December.
If you – or someone you know – would like to find out more about what it’s like to live on the mountain and become part of the Aiglon community, the Admissions team will be in the following countries throughout the autumn and would love to hear from you:
Parent brunch Come join us for brunch! We are excited to announce that the College and Careers Counselling Department, together with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, are launching a new Parents Programme. Over the next year, we will be running a number of events, initially focusing on trends in global university admissions, student development and how students can best present themselves to universities. More details to follow. 30 OCTOBER
Halloween in New York Fancy turning the Big Apple into the Big Pumpkin? If you’re in New York for the Halloween weekend – and aren’t afraid of the dark – come meet up with Aiglon friends and kickstart the festivities.
• • • • •
23 Sep: Monaco 2-4 Oct: UAE 6-10 Oct: India 14 Nov: London 20 Nov-6 Dec: Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea
Class of 2020 Graduation In June, together with more than 200 people online across the world, we celebrated graduation in a virtual world – but now it’s time to do it for real. We invite the Class of 2020, their families and friends, to return to campus to reminisce, reconnect with friends and, above all, to celebrate your achievements! More information to follow, but save the date. For more information or to share ideas, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Like sports? Love music? So do we. That's why we sponsor over 650 events and associations every year.
because trust matters
A N N OTAT E D
ORANGE TENTS Everything you never knew you needed to know about Aiglon’s distinctive orange tents. Illustrations James Olstein Photography Ian G.C. White
Where you go, the Vango goes
The official name of the tent is the Vango Force Ten Classic, an iconic brand first produced in the west Highlands of Scotland in 1967 (where the firm is still based).
It’s got history
The Force Ten was used on both the 1972 and 1975 expeditions to Mount Everest to make the first ascent of the south-west face. “They gave reliable and excellent service throughout both expeditions,” said Chris Bonington, Expedition Leader, British South West Face Expeditions.
A revolution in camping
This is no ordinary tent. It was the first of its kind to use cutting-edge lightweight fabrics and an integral flysheet and sewn-in ground sheet, something Aiglonians have appreciated across the years in the dark of the coldest nights.
Did you know? Shaped for success
The tent’s innovative, streamlined structure, with its bell-shaped ends at both front and back, gives it the ability to provide strength and stability in the most adverse weather conditions.
Force 10 on the Beaufort scale relates to “very high waves (29-41 ft) with overhanging crests, sea white with densely blown foam, heavy rolling, lowered visibility. Seldom experienced on land, trees broken or uprooted, considerable structural damage.”
Expeditions On average, Aiglon runs somewhere between 100-118 expeditions each term for its students.
Days out In the autumn term, there were a remarkable 1,988 student expedition days.
Quick work It takes Aiglonians 10-15 minutes, on average, to put up a tent – but it can take much longer!
Tents Aiglon owns about 150 orange tents, on consistent rotation, with about 15 replaced each year.
Furthest The furthest the orange tents have travelled on one walking expedition is 70km.
Highest And the highest is 2,102m at the Susanfe on an ascent of the Dents du Midi.
OPEN HEARTS OPEN MINDS
Service is central to the Aiglon experience. It can also be life changing. You told us why. Words Becky Allen Photography Emma Pigott
A I G L O N OSLEGRYV I C E
HAT SMALL THINGS CAN have a big impact is something many Aiglonians learn through service. But when Wael al Kaydi (Delaware, Year 13) signed up for the trip to Cambodia, he had no idea that chickens would play such a big part in shaping his future. Wael joined Aiglon five years ago and went on his first service trip, to Rwanda, in Year 11. Since then, he’s been to Kenya, Chile and twice to Cambodia – “because I liked it so much”. Run by Camps International, the Beng Mealea camp lies on the edge of Teuk Lich, a small village 75km from the Cambodian city of Siem Reap. Accommodation is a world away from Aiglon – traditional longhouses without walls or doors and few facilities beyond cold water showers and compost toilets. During the day, students do a mix of manual work and helping local school children improve their English pronunciation. And after work comes football. “I loved playing football with the local kids. It brought us closer. It’s a great feeling to play together at the end of the day – even though you’re tired,” Wael says. “The pitch was terrible – one of the worst I’ve played on – but it didn’t matter because we still had fun when we played.” But when Wael thinks back to service in Cambodia, it is chickens that come to mind. He and his fellow students were tasked with constructing a chicken coop for a local family. They cleared the ground and dug deep holes for sturdy fence posts before building an elaborate hen house. “It had a raised wooden floor with stairs for the chickens to go up, plus a thatched roof to keep them dry,” Wael recalls. “The family showed us how to make the roof in the Cambodian way, packing the leaves
together so it kept out the water. And, when we left, money we donated paid for some chickens.” The experience would prove key to his future. Returning to Aiglon, Wael struggled to decide on life after school. “I was lost. I thought about studying business – which is what everyone does when they don’t know what to do – and then a degree in global health jumped out at me,” he explains. “Cambodia is the reason that I now know what I want to study. If I hadn’t gone there and seen how other people live, I’d never have found what I wanted to do.” Developing service trips where students can make meaningful contributions as well as having life-changing experiences is something Mr James Pigott, Assistant Head (Curriculum), has worked hard to achieve. “Elsewhere, service projects often involve going to places to ‘help’, whether or not that help is really wanted. Then, the only person who benefits is the person going on the trip,” he says. “What makes Aiglon service projects different is that we try our best to ensure that we’re working with local communities in areas where we have contacts. That brings mutual benefit to local communities as well as our students. We would never use a community for own benefit – that’s just colonialism.”
A DIFFERENT SIDE OF LIFE
Cambodia is a great example of a service trip deeply rooted in local experience. Now in its fourth year, it grew out of a previous service trip to a refugee camp on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. From the mid-1980s, thousands of mainly Karen refugees lived in camps along the border. In 2006, Claudia and Paul Turner – both British doctors as well as husband and wife – set up a clinic in one of the camps. “Paul’s brother, Mr John Turner, teaches at Aiglon, so we decided to set up a service project there. It was wonderful,” Mr Pigott explains. “We took lots of great students who did some teaching, helped build boarding houses and raised funds – things that the community leaders requested – before political changes in the region meant we could no longer get into the camp.”
Annie Li (left) and Wael Al Kaydi (below) teaching English to local children in Beng Mealea.
Annie Li (above) preparing concrete paving slabs for the local school in Beng Mealea. Omar Gier, Zach Goldberg, Omar Kazmi and Riva Phanbuh on Kulen Mountain.
A I G L O N OSLEGRYV I C E
Zach Goldberg and Omar Kazmi fixing a wall damaged by monsoon rain; right, students mixing clay to build rainwater collection pots; bottom, Cas Ehrnrooth planting a sapling for a reforestation project.
Team on their final day in Camp Beng Mealea.
Lulu (Luma) Aureglia De Aguiar, Wael Al Kaydi, Layla Goldberg and Ana de Andrade having just finished planing in the local community garden.
ourselves. We want to take what we learn and introduce it to government hospitals. That way, we’ll reach many more sick kids in a sustainable way.” One person who knows all about the challenges Cambodians face is Seiha San (Delaware, 2018), who was born and brought up in a village in Siem Reap Province. After attending the Jay Pritzker Academy, a private non-profit school nearby, a chance meeting during a cultural enrichment programme in Italy led him to Aiglon for his International Baccalaureate. “I come from a small family and we live in a very rural area with little in the way of schools, healthcare or opportunities,” he says. “So, when I got the chance, I wanted to jump in and explore the world.” Currently studying Biology and Global Health in Middlebury College, Vermont, Seiha hopes to move on to medicine or a career in infectious-disease research so that he can one day return to Cambodia with the skills he needs to build a clinic in his community. In the meantime, he’s heavily involved with local service projects, and recently led a trip to Washington, DC, visiting food banks and talking to policymakers about food security and sustainability. “Service is about putting others first. People lead busy lives and are often focused on themselves, so service is a time to reflect on that – on being less selfish,” he says. “I’ve been on lots of service trips and I’m always struck by the fact that many people have it worse than me. These trips put things into perspective, they make me rethink the way I live my life. That’s very important to me.”
OUT OF OUR BUBBLES
When Claudia and Paul moved to Cambodia to work at the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), their relationship with Aiglon continued and the Cambodia service trip was born. Now CEO of AHC, Claudia spends one morning each service trip taking Aiglon students on a patient’s journey through the hospital. “I want them to understand the socio-economic situation in Cambodia – to make it real. I explain how people in rural areas live on between $1 and $2 a day, so when kids get sick it has a huge impact on a family,” she says. “I’m very keen to give young people the opportunity to see a different side of life, to see what happens when you can’t take healthcare for granted, and I’ve always wanted to inspire youngsters into medicine and the kind of work I do.”
PUTTING OTHERS FIRST
While at the hospital, students gain an insight into the challenges that, 20 years ago, prompted Japanese photographer Kenro Izu to found AHC. Today, AHC provides free, high-quality care to thousands of children across Cambodia each year. And with Cambodians making up 98 per cent of AHC’s staff, capacity-building is a key part of the hospital’s vision. “I’m really proud of our team, delivering services like our cancer programme that aren’t available anywhere else in Cambodia,” says Claudia. “And we don’t just keep this stuff to
Zachary Goldberg (Delaware, 2017) and Annie Li (Exeter, 2019) are also convinced that Cambodia service trips changed their outlook on life. Zachary, now studying Economics at Tufts University in Massachusetts, credits Cambodia with reframing his attitudes to education. Teaching English to local school children at Beng Mealea was, he says, an eye-opener. “There are big differences in culture and language, but what made teaching them easier was their willingness to learn. They never took any education for granted – not a single minute,” he says. “They were involved and engaged all the time. They understood the value of the classes, something that’s often lost on students from countries where education is a given. It made me rethink my own engagement in class.” Currently studying Biochemistry at Boston University, Annie says her two service trips to Cambodia were personally challenging, and brought her out of the Aiglon bubble, sometimes brutally so. As a teenager with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), camp conditions were way beyond her comfort zone but helped her challenge her symptoms. “After the trip, I thought, ‘Why do I have to fixate on something so small and stupid’? It helped my OCD – I stopped caring so much about cleanliness and the small stuff and started appreciating the bigger picture more.” At the end of the trip, a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh served as a call to action. It taught her about horrific – but often neglected – events and revealed the scale of global inequality. “Bringing us out of our bubbles is important. Service trips can open our eyes and change something in us,” she concludes. “If we see how others live – and change the way we think – then maybe we can we can have a more positive impact on the world in future.”
L E A R N I N G LI N E S
Lights! Action! Prompt? Every year, Aiglonians undertake a mind-blowing feat of memory as they set about learning their lines for the school production. But just how do they get them to stick? Words Lucy Joiln Illustration John Devolle at Folio
ARTIN LUTHER KING JR HAD A dream. Neil Armstrong took one giant leap. And Jack Nicholson didn’t think we could handle the truth. All had different things to say, but all had one thing that united them – delivering lines. Learning words to give a great performance – whether that’s on stage in front of a massive audience or just presenting at the weekly office meeting – is an art. Knowing what you’re going to say gives you confidence, but how can you make sure the lines stick in your head? “It’s a very personal thing,” says drama and English teacher Mrs Emily Hann. “You can be a fantastic actor, but still find learning lines challenging. Many of our students would say the fun is in the performance and learning lines is just a means to an end. But if you don’t know your lines, the piece doesn’t come together in the same way. It might not be the most fun aspect of performing; it’s hard work – but it’s hard work that pays off.”
No one doubts that committing lines to memory is a monumental task. But it’s one that many Aiglonians are used to. Learning lines and performing them to the highest standard is all part of the annual Aiglon production – and a skill that has served them well in later life. Take Charlotte Asprey (Chantecler, 1993). As a professional actor with a string of film, TV and theatre credits to her name, Charlotte is well used to the challenge of learning lines. “It’s about layering and more layering. I print my lines out, I pick them up, read them, walk away, do something else, go back to them. The familiarity grows. Then I’ll ask someone to read opposite me, and I’ll find I’ve become familiar with the lines without forcing anything.” She has to commit an extraordinary number of lines to memory, and keep them fresh. Her most recent part, as Mattie Ill in Tony Kushner’s epic adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit at the National Theatre in London, also had her understudying Lesley Manville’s lead role. That means finding ways to make connections between words, actions and character. “Tony’s words are often incredibly hard to learn because he
uses so much delicious language,” she says. “You have to find the drive, the motor behind that sentence. Perhaps there will be a repeated word – ‘would’, for example. I’ll think ‘three woulds: I need to get to the third ‘would’. Or you can make patterns, or lists. If the character says, ‘You are obstinate, facetious, arrogant…’, I’ll think ‘OFA’ and try to remember it that way.” And sometimes, simple displacement activity helps lines to embed themselves in her memory. “I’ve got a soft green ball that I throw against a wall! It’s just what I happen to have to hand: you can use anything. I think it works because you’re concentrating on catching the ball rather than trying to get the line right. It’s a bit of brain trickery.” When Celeste von der Schulenburg (Le Cerf, 2018) won the part of Puck in Aiglon’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at just 14, she was nervous about learning the lines. It was her first time doing Shakespeare, and she was unfamiliar with the language. Plus, she had an additional challenge: she is dyslexic and found remembering things difficult. Luckily, help was at hand. “My drama teacher, Mrs BD (Mrs Barker-Doherty), was incredibly helpful and inspiring, and recommended that I start off by reading the play as many times as possible,” she remembers. “Once I felt comfortable with it, I would try to write down as much as I could remember in my journal, starting from the top, and I’d look at that whenever I had some time. If I had a big chunk of lines – Puck has a few of those – I would just speak the line at the top, look at the second line and then go back to the beginning, and then keep going back to the beginning until I had memorised them all. That was a method that worked very well for me.” Celeste also tried out as many different ways of learning lines as she could: singing her lines, shouting them, or saying them in different voices. “I think my roommates thought I was going crazy at one point – I’d be sitting there, talking to myself and reciting my lines to the mirror! But you have to know your lines. Knowing that there’s no way round that really encouraged me to find ways that worked for me. Now, I have no issues with memory and I’m really grateful for that. I’m no longer scared of learning lines.” She’s now so confident, in fact, that she is currently studying at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts and hoping to pursue an acting career. “There’s something so genuine about people who are able to deliver speeches off by heart,” says drama and English teacher Mr Desmond Hann, who has overseen many a production and practises what he preaches. “When I give the morning meditation, I like to tell a story, which I memorise. I don’t work from a piece of paper. In any professional life, the ability to remember and retain ideas and to speak with confidence is a real skill. A lot of what appear to be casual presentations or ideas are actually formulated carefully, and rehearsed. It’s a valuable skill.” Physicality can aid actual learning, says Mr Hann. “Connect a line with a gesture – such as pretending to throw open a door
while declaiming, ‘Honey, I’m home!’ – and it becomes easier to remember. Acting out the scene on your feet with a partner, however rough and ready the acting, works well for people who are more visual learners.” And while it’s tricky enough to learn lines in your native language, many students declaim these complex lines in their second or even third tongue. Alex Demishin (Alpina, 2016) is a native Russian speaker and admits he was initially worried about learning lines to the required standard in English when he first arrived at Aiglon. “But I’d loved performing all my life, and after I’d seen the incredible standard of the plays at Aiglon, I was determined to join in. It was so exciting for me to try it for the first time and realise that it wasn’t that scary. I just wished we could do more than three performances at the end!” He went on to perform in plays as diverse as Avenue Q, Twelve Angry Men, Our Country’s Good and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Possessed with a naturally good memory, he didn’t find remembering the lines tricky – his top tip is to read lines just before you go to bed, then again first thing in the morning when you wake up. Rehearsals for up to three hours a day helped, too: by the end of a play, he says, he would know everyone else’s part as well as his own. But to truly overcome the language barrier, he had to work hard on understanding what the lines were actually about. “I had to work on the meaning, the emotion, the character behind the words. And that, in turn, helped me remember the lines, particularly with Shakespeare plays.” Celeste agrees that knowing the words means you can start getting to know the character. “Then, they are not just words, and it all falls into place. When you’re not using your memory any more, it’s as if you can access other parts of your brain. Something clicks. You can think about your objective in the scene. Perhaps you’re saying, ‘I love you’, and you decide to say it as if it’s the last time you’re ever going to see them in the whole world. Now you have a reason to say it like you do.” Both Celeste and Alex have found that having to learn lines has helped them academically. Alex, currently studying at EHL in Lausanne, says it’s not just about memory. “Yes, it does help with cramming before exams! But I’m interested in politics and it’s also helped me examine the meaning, emotions and characters behind political speeches.” Celeste says it helped her in her IB exams and, of course, in her current studies. “Now, I can just pick up the script, I can look at it and I can be off book in a few moments.” So, if you’re ever tempted to overlook the difficulty of learning lines, Mrs Hann has a suggestion: try doing it yourself. “If we set our students to learn a monologue, we should do it too, because it reminds you of how terrifying it is not just to perform but also having to learn all those lines,” she says. “As a drama teacher who tells everyone that lines are nothing to make a fuss about, it’s good to be reminded that it’s not that easy!”
STRENGTH IN Poise. Dedication. Resilience. These qualities may be built in to the Aiglon experience, but it took a global pandemic to show that, with these skills, our community could thrive in times of challenge. Words Lucy Jolin
The teachers have been great and are putting so much work into adapting their live lessons for online learning
As we go to press, the Aiglon experience looks radically different – but it’s still very much Aiglon, wherever you are in the world
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
ROM THROWING YOURSELF INTO A GRUELLING expedition to taking on charity work in a country you’ve never visited, the Aiglon experience has always tested both students and staff to the limit. That experience has created a remarkably resilient community: people who embrace challenge, demonstrate responsibility and think globally and creatively to serve others. And when faced with a crisis on a scale none of us had experienced before, it was our school spirit that enabled us to pull together during the Covid-19 crisis. As we go to press, the Aiglon experience looks radically different – but it’s still very much Aiglon, wherever you are in the world. In Turkey, Kaan Taskent (Alpina, Year 12) is making the most of the opportunity to manage his own time. Before the crisis hit, he was looking forward to the new football season: now, undaunted, he’s keeping his skills sharp in the garden. “At the start, I was worried, but it’s all worked out,” he says. “The teachers have been great and are putting so much work into adapting their live lessons for online learning. They are always available if you want to ask about something, or need a concept explaining to you. And I think we will learn something from this experience, too. If I wanted to, I could switch my computer off and game all day! But boarding school has taught
me to stand on my own two feet. It’s taught me self-discipline. I’m staying motivated by organising myself and getting all my work done effectively so I have time for myself later.” For Michelle Xie (La Casa, Year 8) in Hong Kong, having a schedule has also been key to getting to grips with the remote learning experience – as has a wide variety of set activities. “If you keep everything under control with a clear schedule, things will be so much easier!” she says. “All our activities have been fun and engaging: in Geography, we were asked to do a research project on the Alps; in English and History we were asked to write essays; and for Science, we did research projects that we picked a while ago, and we were told to make bread and watch the chemical reactions happen.” Technology is also making it easy for Michelle to stay in touch with her peers. “I think I’m keeping in touch with my teachers and classmates really well. I often chat with them on Google Hangouts, on emails or FaceTime. We talk about our days, where we’re at, and how the weather is in different areas.” Behind this smooth transition to online learning lies an extraordinary feat of planning – one that began way before school closures in Europe were being talked about. Luckily, Head of School Mrs Nicola Sparrow has long known the value of preparing for the unexpected. In her previous role as deputy head of a school in Bangkok, she helped evacuate an entire campus during floods. “In Bangkok, we knew that the water was coming down from northern Thailand – we could see it coming,” she says. “I had a similar feeling as we watched events unfold in China around the virus. So, we started planning very early on about how we would manage a move to remote learning. I’m very proud of how we all worked together as a team.” The school’s management team quickly identified three priorities for remote learning: a high level of learning, maintaining relationships and connections – and, of course, student wellbeing, vital in such an unsettling time. “Our houseparents were absolutely key to making sure that students were looked after before they went away; helping them to understand the seriousness of the situation and get them back to their families as quickly as possible – but without spreading panic,” says Mrs Sparrow. After school closed, the introduction to the new system was deliberately gentle: a week of learning where work was simply put up for students to complete, two weeks of a scheduled
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
holiday, and only then starting remote classes with teachers on-screen. “We needed that time. Everyone had to get home, get over their jet lag and, in some cases, be tested for the virus or even go to hospital,” says Mrs Sparrow. So, what does digital teaching and learning provision look like? Luckily, Aiglon was already using Google Classroom, so that has become the main platform through which students access resources, submit work, attend lessons and meet online with their teachers and classmates. The main tweak, says Mr Tom Duckling, Director of Learning, is screen time. “A lesson is normally 55 minutes long. And if you’re doing that six times a day, it’s a long time in front of a screen. Research shows that while online learning is engaging, it is exhausting. So, teachers do a 15-minute introduction live, and then students are encouraged to do something away from the screen or together in a group. Students have projects to do, and the teacher will be on call during that time to help.” Staying connected is vital for both staff and students, says Mrs Sparrow, and the school is constantly reaching out to students across the world. Staff meet regularly online for both social and school business meetings – and every Monday, the whole staff of 120 people attend a meeting on Google Hangouts. Each house has a regular check-in, too, with whole-house meetups online for students, staff and houseparents. Students have been keen to keep in touch, says Mrs Sparrow. “I thought we might struggle to get them to log on to engage in online learning, but it’s a lifeline for students, because that’s when they get to see their friends. It’s their social element. I hear my own children doing their online lessons and there’s a lot of laughter.” Time differences are a big hurdle, of course, and the school is finding ways around it, such as designated staff for different time zones and recorded lessons. Different year groups have had to cope with different challenges. Year 13, for example, had no exams to sit. IB grades will now be predicted using internal assessments, and Aiglon was already ahead of the curve on this – indeed, it was commended for its excellent organisation by the IB board. “We had assessments uploaded and in place far quicker than many other schools,” says Mr Duckling. But that has brought a new conundrum: how to keep students engaged without exams to push them right to the end of term.
Mr Duckling and his team have pulled together a list of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that cover the university courses the Year 13s will go on to. A staff member has been assigned to each course and encourages students to pick different courses to follow. “Staff are doing the courses along with students, and they’re having a discussion forum on them each week,” says Mr Duckling. “I’m doing International Relations – we have about seven pupils on that, and it’s going great.” These students have also had to cope with the sudden loss of those last few formative months at school. There will be no replacing those, says Mrs Sparrow, and that’s hard. But, she points out, the Aiglon community is extraordinarily strong. “On the very last night, we brought the graduands descent forward, and they skied down the mountain by torchlight. We will do graduation at some point, and it will be the biggest we have ever seen. But they are a fabulous group, and I have no doubt their Aiglon friendships and experiences will endure.” In Year 11, students faced a similar problem: all their IGCSE exams were cancelled. “We felt that these students have done two years in their classes and needed to have some form of closure,” says Mr Duckling. “Learning is not just about exams: we wanted to make them understand that you still have to show what you’ve achieved and then move on. So, we asked every department to come up with an assessed piece of work that would bring together the whole course. This ended up fitting in perfectly with the exam board requirements, where we need to grade the students. We now have an assessed piece of evidence that can inform our judgment.” They used the summer term as a general introduction to concepts in the IB, and teaching proper will begin in September so as not to disadvantage any students adjusting to remote learning. For the future, it’s all about constantly tweaking and improving the remote-learning experience – and looking forward to when the school reopens, stronger than ever. “I have been amazed by the resilience of the Aiglon community, staff and students alike,” says Mrs Sparrow. “Whenever I see online lessons in progress I see pupils smiling; I see nothing but positivity. And perhaps we can learn from this. Perhaps we won’t be exactly the same as before, and there are ways in which we can improve. Again, that’s what we’ve always been about as a school: questioning, challenging and responding to change.”
We will learn from this, too; that’s what we’ve always been about as a school: questioning, challenging and responding to change
T O P T A B LE S Service! Always dreamed of setting up your own place serving food and drink? We meet the Aiglonians showing how it’s done – and delivering the hottest plates in town. Words William Ham Bevan
Photography by Simon Brown
EW INDUSTRIES HAVE AS FEARSOME A REPUTATION as the restaurant trade. “To want to own a restaurant can be a strange and terrible affliction,” wrote celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain in his 2000 bestseller, Kitchen Confidential. “What causes such a destructive urge in so many otherwise sensible people?” Aiglonians, it seems, are not immune to these destructive urges. Take Patrick McDonnell (Belvedere, Clairmont, Alpina, 1968), for example: one of those “otherwise sensible people”. If anyone knows about the degree of determination and effort needed to prosper in this business, it is Patrick. His extraordinarily diverse career began on the management training programme of the Savoy Hotel Group in London. He has gone on to manage launches on both sides of the Atlantic, and served as executive chef at the Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City – at the time, the world’s highest-grossing restaurant. Early in his career, however, an apparently insurmountable challenge became apparent. He says: “When I first went to New York in 1973, no one at the top French restaurants would employ me because I wasn’t French – even though I was classically trained in French cuisine. They had a stranglehold.” It didn’t prove an obstacle for long. Before the decade was out, Patrick was being hailed as a pioneer of French nouvelle cuisine at Le Coup de Fusil, the New York restaurant that spearheaded the movement in the United States. He subsequently headed up new product development with General Foods and Conagra, became culinary director of the magazine, Food Arts, and co-founded the food consultancy, McDonnell Kinder & Associates
with his wife and partner, Coral Kinder. In 1998, Nation’s Restaurant News did a feature on the 50 greatest food and beverage influencers across the US food industry and called him “the most famous chef you’ve never heard of” because much of his work was being done behind the scenes. “My forte is building relationships, and being able to reinvent existing approaches,” he says. “That was the driving force for us chefs who developed nouvelle cuisine – taking hundreds of years of classical French cuisine doctrines, breaking them down and reinventing them for the modern era.” Patrick admits that the recent months have been challenging in the extreme, and he has had to react at ‘warp speed’. “I am right on the firing line, working with our clients and the major operators to develop viable options and solutions. Thankfully my team is busier than ever, but it has required a radical repositioning for our entire company. John Corlette and his Aiglon team taught us to dig deep, adapt and overcome!” Another Aiglonian, Luis Berenbau (Delaware, 1997), is ploughing a different but no less impressive furrow. As director of restaurant operations for Tacombi, Luis has played an important role in the “taco takeover” of New York. “There’s a misconception about what Mexican food is,” says Luis. “Even at school we used to go to Gringo’s – which every Aiglonian knows well – but that wasn’t the real deal. A lot of Mexicans feel their country hasn’t been showcased in the way that’s true to Mexican food culture, which is very rich and diverse, with influences from all over the world. And when we started out in the business in New York, we couldn’t really find that.”
TO P TA B L E
ANTHONY HOOD Farm Girl Inspired by Melbourne’s vibrant brunch culture, and travels through LA with his girlfriend, Rose, Anthony hopes to bring a taste of Australia to London.
LUIS BERENBAU Tacombi Luis grew up working in hotels and restaurants in resort towns and helping serve guests at his family parties, and so feels he was always destined for hospitality.
PATRICK MCDONNELL MKA A chef at heart, Patrick’s career has spanned multiple disciplines including food journalism, advertising, actor, brand spokesperson, speaker and professional photographer.
The Tacombi story began with a Volkswagen Kombi van, which founder Dario Wolos drove to the Mexican resort of Playa del Carmen and converted to a taco stall in 2005. After transplanting the van – and authentic taqueria culture – to New York, he approached Luis to help him grow the business. “He knew I’d worked in hotels and hospitality for a long time,” says Luis. “In fact, my family always lived in resort towns, such as Marbella in Spain, and even when I visited them from Aiglon, I’d work in a local hotel or restaurant. And at 12 or 13 years old, my parents would have me involved in their parties – I was very much at home hosting people, and felt I had a knack for it!” The chain – now numbering nine outlets, including bases in the Empire State Building, Nolita and the Flatiron District – continues to raise the flag for authentic Mexican neighbourhood food throughout the city and beyond. But the biggest ongoing challenge has proved to be staffing. “We need to keep on finding people who embody the same values we do,” says Luis, “people who are energetic, humble and engaging, and who seek interaction rather than wait to be called upon.” Transplanting one culture to another is something Londonbased Anthony Hood (Belvedere, 2001) – co-founder of the Farm Girl Café group with his Australian partner, Rose Mann – has spent the past five years doing. From its original site in Notting Hill, the business has expanded with a stand-alone restaurant in Chelsea, plus partnerships with clothing retailer Sweaty Betty (taking up a floor of its flagship Carnaby Street outlet) and the hairdressing brand, Hershesons, with concessions at its salons in Fitzrovia and Harvey Nichols department store. Farm Girl aims to bring Australian brunch culture to the UK, offering healthy food and speciality coffee. “Rose spotted a gap
Photography by Maria Dias for IESE Business School
Dr Long said to me: ‘If you live a life in which you bake every single day, you’ll never feel like you’re working.’ That has stuck with me always
AMNA ALYAMANI AMNA BAKERY After an MBA and Cordon Bleu training, Amna set up her bakery in Jeddah with an all-female staff.
in the market,” says Anthony. “We did a road trip in the United States, around the West Coast, and visited a lot of places in LA and Palm Springs that inspired us. Combined with what Rose knew of Melbourne cafés – and Australian coffee culture being way ahead of the game – we saw there was potential to come up with a concept that was lacking in London. “We are very hands-on owners: it’s all about long hours and total dedication. With the help of our well-trained teams, we have managed to create a loyal customer base and become a go-to destination for many passing through London. There’s no better feeling than a happy new customer.” That passion is evident in another Aiglonian, Amna Alyamani (Exeter, 2005). Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Amna would eagerly watch her grandfather – a professional chef – at work. She began her own baking experiments at the age of seven, and made good use of her talents at Aiglon: she recalls making brownies and cookies for charity sales, and working out how to make a dairy-free chocolate cake for a teacher who was vegan. It was former Head Master Dr Jonathan Long who first encouraged Amna to turn her pastime into a profession. “He was my Religious Studies teacher at the time,” she says. “He asked me what my favourite hobby was, and I said baking. He said, ‘If you live a life in which you bake every single day, you’ll never feel like you’re working’. That has stuck with me always. And I thought, OK, I love to bake, but I’ll also learn about management so I can build up my own chain one day.” After completing Cordon Bleu training in Paris and an MBA in Barcelona, Amna finally started a bakery in her home city of Jeddah last year. Its mission is not just to create delicious cakes and pastries. With a female-led workforce, Amna Bakery offers
valuable training opportunities in a nation where 30 per cent of women were unable to secure a job pre-pandemic. The bakery works on a “cloud kitchen” model. After a rental agreement on a shop fell through, Amna realised that the business could thrive without any customer-facing premises as a start, relying solely on food-delivery apps and B2B services to sell her creations. She says: “The cloud kitchen is becoming a global norm, but it’s something that doesn’t exist in Saudi yet – I’m one of the first, and the lack of overheads is provimg a successful model in these challenging times.” So what attributes are needed to prosper in a trade that’s so notoriously demanding and competitive? “Really, the restaurant business is a human business,” says Luis. “People think it’s about having the best food, but it’s a platform for human interaction, both with customers and staff. When I was at Aiglon, we had 52 different nationalities represented. In the company, we have 30. No matter what each Aiglonian’s social, economic or religious background was, everybody was treated equally, and we treat everybody exactly the same at Tacombi.” What’s more, Patrick believes the culture of Aiglon is a firm foundation for kitchen and boardroom alike. He says: “Two things were really important at Aiglon: integrity and tenacity. They were instilled in us both in an upfront way and subliminally. A reputation for integrity is a huge advantage, and I have maintained that throughout my career – the idea that you should live up to who you are. And you have to be tenacious. “So, if I gave advice to a new graduate who was hoping to go into this business, I’d say put your integrity at the top and never give up. You don’t have to have limitations; there’s nothing you can’t accomplish if you set your mind to pursuing it.”
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Share your news via email@example.com, and stay in touch with the Aiglon community at aiglonlife.ch A walk in the Park
My 14-year-old son and I recently went to Park City, UT. They had 62” of new snow in the week before we arrived, and it was the first time I have done any meaningful hiking to ski since Aiglon! Here we are on Jupiter Peak – he put the arrow where we skied down, but I think the arrow should show how we hiked a half hour up the ridge on the left! Kristina Friberg Mangelsdorf (Clairmont, 1987)
Having graduated from Brown University and SOAS (London), and now working as a cultural strategist in the nexus of politics and culture, I’m delighted to be able to give back to the Aiglon community by joining the board of the Aiglon College Association. I am devoted to philanthropy in the world of contemporary art and look forward to continuing to help Aiglon in this new capacity. Alia Al Senussi (Chantecler, 2000)
I’m thrilled to announce the publication of The Necessity of Sculpture, my collection of essays on sculpture and sculptors. Covering ancient Mesopotamia to 21st-century Manhattan, it features artists as diverse as Michelangelo, Giacometti and Jeff Koons, and has been described as “indispensable” by none other than former Metropolitan Museum of Art Director, Philippe de Montebello. Eric Gibson (Belvedere, Alpina, 1972)
Illustrations by James Olstien
Postcard from Amsterdam I’ve been living in Amsterdam for the past two years since graduating from the University of Exeter in the UK. I’m currently enjoying a career in IT infrastructure sales, including the management of an EMEA sales team, but I am back every winter break for a nostalgic catch up with my old teachers and the mountains. Ben Cook (Alpina, 2013)
N E X T G E N E R AT I O N
Consultancy advice sought Snow Eagles reunite Name: Alana Li House: Clairmont Graduated: Class of 2015 What’s on: After graduating from UCLA, I’m continuing my Arabic studies through the Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman. What’s hot: In 2014, I went on Aiglon’s Rwanda service project. Eager to return to Africa, I recently volunteered on a girl empowerment project in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania and I’m working on other initiatives to raise awareness. What’s next: I will hopefully be starting my Master’s degree in London this fall. What’s Aiglon: Aiglon gave me irreplaceable friendships and memories, but it also taught me grit, to persevere through challenges, and to make the best of any situation, instilling a lifelong sense of resilience and ambition.
Update from Japan After Aiglon I attended the University of Kent and worked for Deloitte Consulting as an IT consultant – but recently joined Microsoft. I married Rena in 2017 and was blessed with Kotone, a baby girl, in 2019. I still keep in touch with my closest friends from the Class of 2006 while also helping to establish the Aiglon alumni community in Japan hosting multiple events in Tokyo. Tomoya Kaji (Delaware, 2006)
In February we held our annual Snow Eagles ski reunion in Durango, Colorado with a group of 19 alumni from the late 50s and 60s. Most alumni came with their spouses and one even came with their daughter and newborn granddaughter! Activities across the five days from Wednesday into the weekend included skiing, hiking, a train ride on an original narrow gauge steam engine, visiting our Welsh Cob horses, and going to the old mining town of Silverton to see our annual Skijoring competition. A highlight was the “cook at the table” beef and cheese fondue following a traditional recipe from the Hotel du Cerf, Chesières. Todd Barbey (Clairmont, 1967)
I am currently at the University of Oxford, coming to the end of my degree in geography, and I am considering possible career paths. Having done vacation schemes at two Magic Circle law firms, I decided that I didn’t want to pursue a legal career and have instead found management consultancy to be an area of particular interest. I would be very interested in connecting with Aiglonians in this field for advice or possible work experience. Please reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Domingo Morgan Luco (Alpina, 2016)
Madrid reunion Did you know that Spain has our fourth largest concentration of Aiglon alumni, behind the US, UK, and Switzerland? Our community in Madrid is active and meets often to socialise or play football. Andros SolerRoig (Delaware, 2013) is opening a new restaurant in the city and we hope to have the next reunion there, after the great success of our recent event in February. Best of luck, Andros!
Madrid to Bogotá Having recently moved from Madrid to Bogotá, Colombia, I have now boldly taken on a dual challenge – finishing my Master’s and opening a real estate investment management company with my fellow alum Julien van Ophem (Belvedere, 2012). Moritz von Lippe (Belvedere, 2012)
Aiglon lunch in Nairobi Executive Director Richard McDonald, Director of Admissions and Marketing Valerie Scullion, and ACA Director Koome Gikunda enjoyed bringing together the alumni and parent community in Kenya for a special lunch in Nairobi.
Calling Boston alum I am living in Concord, MA with my husband, Jeff, and our three children, Alexi (18), Nicola (17) and Averell (13). After leaving Aiglon, I studied at Hamilton College and then got my Master’s in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU. I’ve been working as an Interaction Designer at the Bank of America since 2005, and I stay in regular contact with Lisa Nyegaard and Azeen Roohi James (both Exeter, 1986). Any Aiglonians in the Boston area, please get in touch! Dariane Hunt, née Osborne (Exeter, 1986)
During a recent visit to Villars, I joined Executive Director Richard McDonald for an activity not banned under our new social distancing rules. The ski installations closed in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak, so the two of us took advantage of the empty slopes and skinned to La Croix des Chaux! Benjamin Freeth MBE (Belvedere, 1987)
Village life I’ve been in the media, advertising and MatTech world all my life, running a number of leading global agencies from Milan, London and now New York, where I’ve been for the past 10 years. I left OMD, the largest media agency in the world, a year ago, to become an investor and advisor across multiple sectors. I am also a director in a number of boards and I’m working with private equity on transformational deals across the larger media and marketing industry. I live in the Village in NY with Nicola, my British wife, and two cats. My two sons, Alberico (28) and Gherardo (26) also work in marketing, in Singapore and London respectively. I have kept in contact with some friends from my Delaware years and I’m always happy to reconnect with old friends I haven’t seen for too long. Mainardo de Nardis (Delaware, 1979)
Architects shortlisted As the Principal of Studio Seilern Architects (SSA), shortlisted as a finalist for Smart Buildings Awards 2020 for the Andermatt Concert Hall, I am happy to announce that we have opened Phase 1 of the El Gouna Cultural and Conference Centre in Egypt. In my architectural style, I explore the theme of structural lightness within my projects. For me, light is to architecture like pulse is to music: the witness of time, the metaphor of life. The artistic life of the building is expressed through the way it produces and modulates its light. Christina Seilern Goulandris (Chantecler, 1988)
A real entrepreneurial spirit
Class of 84 yearly reunion in St Moritz
After graduating from Aiglon in 2012, I completed my undergraduate degree in Boston before diving into work in real estate at investment banks in New York, Kuwait and Dubai. I spent three years working before returning to Boston to pursue my graduate studies at Babson College, where I have just graduated with a Master’s in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership. One of the ideas I am looking at post graduation is combining my real estate experience with the entrepreneurial ideas I have picked up at Babson. This could mean starting a venture or applying these skills to an existing endeavour. Fawaz Al Shawwa (Alpina, 2012)
A group of hardy Aiglonians who gather each year for their annual reunion in St Moritz recently celebrated their 10th anniversary, having not missed a year! When the Class of 84 alum get together they spend their days skiing and their nights enjoying long dinners and cigars, including one night clubbing at Dracula (except for this year due to closure). They also gather several times at other times throughout the year, whether it be in Mykonos, Los Angeles, New York – or anywhere around the globe! The usual suspects, pictured below, are Jose Irauzqui, Ippolito Etro, Ali Daud, Dominic Longcroft, Moreno Stinat, Jose Irauzqui, Ippolito Etro, Marc Gachoud and Ruggero Borletti.
Destination Colorado Though retired from a career directing manufacturing engineering teams making medical devices, I am still doing a little consulting in the same area. I’ve been happily married to Bonnie for 39 years, with two educated, capable children, out on their own for quite some time. After multiple early moves we returned and dropped anchor in the north-east, have lived in the Boston area for the last 25 years, and are fortunate to be able to summer at our lake house in Maine. Bonnie and I recently completed a 33-day, 7,066-mile road trip around the USA (luckily just before Covid-19 stormed in). The main destination of the trip was Breckenridge, Colorado, where we skied with fellow Aiglon alumni Karen and Andy Dennison. Aiglon remains a major highlight in my journey, and it was with sadness that I read of students having to depart early due to the virus. To say goodbye to fellow Aiglonians so unexpectedly must have been very difficult. I wish the best for all, through this current challenge, and in the future. David Trigg (Alpina, 1973)
Good medicine My wife and I run Good Medicine Tea, offering ethically and sustainably sourced global teas (www.goodmedicinetea. com/our-story), based in Hood River, Oregon. As if our hands aren’t full already, we also have a two-year old and a newborn! Turner Savard (Delaware, 2000)
Rewriting history We’re pleased to announce that retired History teacher Timothy Stunt (1970-85), now living in Florida, has hardly retired his disquisitive quill. His exhaustive biographical study, The Life and Times of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, A Forgotten Scholar, has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. According to Mr Stunt: “I began to enquire into the life of Tregelles (Quaker, Plymouth Brother, historian, textual scholar and editor of the Greek New Testament) at the tender age of 14, when my father gave me a Greek New Testament, in which mention was made of Tregelles and several other exotic names. The quest has continued on and off for more than 60 years, and my book is the only one known to me that is entirely devoted to SPT’s life and work.”
Tributes Hilary Saltzman (Exeter, 1979)
Shaun J Somerton (Alpina, 1964)
Hilary Saltzman embodied the Aiglon ethos in every aspect of her life, but sadly lost her fight with cancer in December at the age of 58. Hilary, daughter of film producer Harry Saltzman and sister of Steven (Belvedere, 1978), was a mother of two and a notable producer in her own right, dedicated to making films that make a difference.
Viscount Shaun James Somerton, the Rt Hon 6th Earl of Normanton. attended Aiglon in the early 1960s, before graduating from Eton and serving in the army, making captain in the Blues and Royals. Married three times, the larger-than-life peer turned his palatial Somerley Estate on the Dorset-Hampshire border into a major event venue, and also enjoyed a lifelong passion for skiing, scuba-diving and racing powerboats – he was the first chairman of the British Powerboat Racing Club.
Alan Merrill (Belvedere, 1967) Sophie McCormick (Clairmont, 1975) Sophie McCormick is described by her friends as full of life, stylish, stubborn, fiercely witty, talented, the life and soul of the party, a brilliant storyteller, and very, very naughty! Born in London, Sophie studied painting restoration in Rome and Florence, and spent almost nine years in Kenya with her daughter, Pandora, before moving back to her beloved Wicklow, Ireland. Although she spent the last 10 years of her life fighting a cruel disease, she left all of those who knew her with indelible memories of her brilliant, unique, artistic spirit.
Mary Lewin (Aiglon staff, 1968-70) We are sad to report the death of Mary Lewin from cancer at the end of January. Mary was the wife of former French teacher John Pownall and was a secretary at Aiglon from 1968 to 1970. Following their time at Aiglon, she and John both went on to work at Gordonstoun in Scotland for many years. We send our sympathy and condolences to John and their family and friends.
Andrew Simmons (Belvedere, 1967) wishes to inform Aiglonians that his good friend, Alan Merrill (born Allan Preston Sachs), died in March. In 1974, Alan formed the band Arrows and gave the world one of its primal rock anthems, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”. He also wrote “When the Night Comes”, which was taken into space by astronaut Guy Bluford and became the first song ever played in outer space. Vocalist, songwriter and master of many instruments, Alan later performed with other rock notables like Rick Derringer, Meat Loaf, Steve Winwood and Mick Taylor. He is survived by his daughter, Laura, and his mother, legendary jazz singer Helen Merrill.
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AIGLONIANS STEP UP We’re proud to hear about the many ways Aiglonians around the world have been responding to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Proving kind things, no matter how small, make a difference in times like these, Alex Lee (Belvedere, 1979) got straight to work. In response to the shortage of PPE in his home state of New York, Alex has been busy sewing masks for hospitals in need in the area. While isolating in Switzerland, Arseni Loika (Delaware, 2018) decided to do what he could and, as a St John Ambulance volunteer, has been fundraising for the organisation to be able to purchase emergency medical equipment, as well as ambulance vehicles and personal protection equipment for volunteers. Arseni is also an NHS ‘check-in and chat’ volunteer, and has been having regular chats with those people who are most vulnerable to loneliness during the pandemic. The main task is to see if they are managing to go about their day without issues and that their wellbeing is supported, so that if there is a problem he is able to refer them to social or healthcare services. In Dubai, Amynah and Muhammadali Hassanali, parents of Amin Hassanali (Alpina, 2019), have opened their home as a refuge for a stranded Italian alumnus. Amin studies at Babson College in the US with former housemate
Antonio Bortoletto (Alpina, 2019). When Babson closed campus and moved online, Antonio was unable to return to his home country of Italy due to the quarantine situation, so Amynah and Muhammadali invited him to stay with them and ride out the crisis. “Antonio is now our second son; Amin has a live-in brother, and it’s been a great learning experience for both. We get lots of time with the boys and it’s lovely to hear so many Aiglon and Babson experiences they have had. Antonio has been a pleasure to have with us. I know his mother misses him dearly but we will miss him when he leaves.” And never has the value of the Aiglon community proven to be so important than when Julia Hancock-Deutschler (Clairmont, 1988) needed help. When a family relative became stranded in Auckland and unable to return to London, Julia asked whether someone in the Aiglon community could be a contact for her relative, if needed, while she is stranded there. The Alumni Office sent out word, and within 24 hours we received three offers of help from Aiglonians, extending offers to be a contact and other assistance, including lodging, from across the country. A big thank you to Herbert Clemens (ACA Member), Iain Barraclough (Alpina, 1967), Alison Jeffery (Staff 2003 -2014), and Julie Gowan (alumni parent) for responding so quickly and generously.
Cute Couture After working in my family business in the arts world for more than 15 years, I finally fulfilled my dream and, in 2017, set up my own children’s clothing company – Cute Couture. All of our clothes are handmade and produced by specialist craftswomen who put so much love into each of our garments, and last year I launched our first boys’ collection. My husband, family and friends gave me the encouragement I needed to make the leap of faith, and my three girls love to model the new collection, and are my greatest critics when I get the prototypes for the collections. It’s a true family affair and I absolutely love it. Emma Jane Hay, née Haughton (Chantecler, 1994)
WHY I LOVE
BEING A M E N TO R Léa Henaux (Exeter, Year 13) says helping out in the Junior School is all about paying it forward. Words Léa Henaux Photography Joe McGorty
hen I look back at my time at Aiglon, one thing that stands out is the support that I got from my fellow students. When I was making my IB choices in Year 12, for example, our house captain, Frankie, helped me a lot. She listened to all my questions, she helped me work out how to arrange my time, and she suggested teachers who could help me. So, when I heard about the role of Academic Peer Mentor, I thought it was a great idea and decided to pay it forward. Being a Peer Mentor is similar to the ‘big sister’ role, but more academically focused. Usually it’s giving advice on things like how to communicate effectively with teachers, revision time and help with subjects. It’s particularly useful when you are transitioning from GCSE to IB and you can get stressed thinking about which subjects to choose, what you should be doing with regard to university applications and so on. It can sometimes feel like very unfamiliar ground. For example, not long ago one of the I’ve already used my experience GCSE students was very worried about as a mentor to get an internship making the wrong decision with her options; it felt like a very big deal to her. – but it’s also just great fun She came to me and we had a long chat, going through all her options one by one and thinking about how they might impact her university life. I reassured her that she had plenty of time to think about it and that she could change her options – and I think that helped her. The most challenging part of the role is getting students to come to you if they have a problem. It’s no bother to me – I love talking to them about their problems! So, we make it very informal. Most of the time, a meeting is just someone coming to me to have a chat, or me going to someone’s room and just checking in on them. As we do it in houses, it’s easy to let students know that we are constantly available. I’ve already used my experience as a mentor to get an internship in a school, so I’m sure it will help me in later life. But it’s also just great fun. I do a lot of work with younger students, helping out in the Junior School with French lessons, for example. I’m very close to the girls in my house. I love getting to know them in a deeper way, and it’s good to know that they have someone they can trust. All the girls in my house know I’m always there for them.
Stay positive An open letter of encouragement from School Guardians Eloy Gorroño Piedra and Sylvia Ang.
ylvia and I sincerely hope that all families are well accompanied and in good health. We are all facing difficult times, and we would like to say that we are here for you. We would also like to offer all our warmth and support to anyone who may be suffering from Covid-19. Challenges are never too much for us Aiglonians, no matter what size or form. We have faced too much together to be intimidated. We know some of us might be feeling low, tired and sad not to be at Aiglon with the people we love and usually spend time with. It is during these moments when we start to appreciate what we have in life that makes it so worth living. These days, we ask you to stay positive and connected with those who mean the most to you. Don’t let this crisis affect your life, relationships or who you are. Take this as an opportunity to take action and help those around you. At Aiglon, we are taught the importance of service, and that makes you special. We, young people, can fight this virus with more ease than the
Carry your Aiglon spirit around and perhaps do something big by doing something small elderly. If you can, carry your Aiglon spirit around and perhaps do something big by doing something small. In Spain, young people are offering to do the shopping for the elders. We understand this won’t be a choice for all, but you can also help at home. Help your families with anything they need and remember to stay positive. These are going to be tricky times of coexistence, and it will need a lot of patience. But do not let it get you down – smile at the obstacle, for it is only a bridge! To our fellow classmates, do not worry, for we will see each other again. We will receive our diplomas and celebrate the success of our efforts. We are the Class of 2020, something we can now say we will never forget, and this makes us stronger! Together, we will overcome this challenge, together we will look back and laugh, together we will graduate to go out there and do unimaginable things with our lives. To Aiglon, we miss you dearly and cannot wait until we reunite again. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
O N TO P O F THE WORLD Cedar Baroutjian says she’s not quite ready for the Matterhorn – but it’s only a matter of time.
On the up Cedar (shown left in top image) says climbing the Via Ferrata was a great experience – and a big challenge!
Climbing takes nerves, strength and a willingness to adapt and try something new. You can plan, but you have to be open to change
hen the explorer George Mallory was asked why he was risking his life to climb Everest, he famously answered: “Because it’s there.” But for keen climber Cedar Baroutjian (Le Cerf, Year 10), it goes deeper than that. “I enjoy climbing because it’s such a challenge,” she says. “It’s not just physical – though it works every muscle in your body – it’s also mental. It forces you to think about where you are going to go next and how you are going to do it.” Finding your way up the side of a mountain develops certain qualities, she says: how to react quickly and think on your feet – literally. “You need to be a certain character to climb: it takes nerves; you have to be strong; and you can’t be afraid to adapt and try something new. You can try to plan a climb, but you might have a different perspective when you get up there, and you might have to try different things.” Teamwork is also vital when you’re holding your partner’s life in your hands. “When you are climbing on a rope, the person on the other end is making sure that if you fall, you don’t fall all the way to the floor. The rope they are holding catches you. So, you develop patience and you develop trust in other people, too.” Cedar fell in love with climbing when she was on expedition in Junior School, so decided to join the climbing club. “It was difficult at first, but I found ways to get better,” she says. Surrounded by some of the world’s most challenging mountains, she is well aware of the importance of practice before venturing on to the slopes – and has had plenty of opportunity to refine her technique inside before taking on the real thing.
Landscape photography by Joe McGorty
“So far, I have mostly climbed inside on climbing walls,” she says. “They are very challenging, but it pushes me to try harder. On expeditions, I have done different types of climbing, such as climbing the local Via Ferrata in the autumn and ice climbing in the winter. Climbing the Via Ferrata was a great experience – and a big challenge! I haven’t done much ice climbing and I do find it tough, but it is something that I want to get better at. “We’ve also been down to local bouldering sites on expeditions, where you get to practise your technique without a rope. The boulders aren’t high and there are big crash mats to keep you safe, so it’s great, simple fun.” Safety is a key message that’s emphasised right from the very beginning. Helmets, harnesses, ropes, knots: no climber is let loose on a wall without a very thorough grounding. It’s a serious business, says Cedar. “Climbing is only dangerous when you aren’t doing the right thing – using the wrong equipment, tying knots the wrong way or goofing around.” Cedar wants to carry on climbing, though she says she’s not quite ready for the Matterhorn yet. Right now, she’s focused on trying harder things and getting out of her comfort zone. “I want to learn new techniques, such as jumping from one hold to another hold, which is something that I’m working on. Also, I’m trying different styles of climbing, such as clipping in the rope as you go, rather than the rope already being there.” And while she is eager to learn new skills, she also wants climbing to stay a hobby – a break from the norm, a space where nothing else matters but the next move. “I’d encourage anybody to do it,” she says. “Climbing is definitely something I want to develop – it’s going to be a great way to see the world.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
HEADS IN T H E C LO U D Toasties, cookies and all the gossip: as manager of the on-campus student café, Charlie Seward plays a vital role in student life. Words Becky Allen Photography Fabien Delétraz
f you want to know what’s really going on at Aiglon, just ask Charlie Seward. As the manager of The Cloud, the on-campus student café, Charlie has his finger on the pulse of everything – courtesy of days spent with a procession of students from across the school. “It’s important that students feel that it’s their space,” says Charlie. “Even though I’m an adult, I’m not a teacher, so they see me as someone they can confide in. Sometimes I have to try to keep a lid on the noise a bit, but generally I like to hear the sounds of everyone enjoying themselves. We play some music and try to keep them calm, but it doesn’t always work!” Charlie and his fiancé, Katie, Exeter Assistant Houseparent, have been running The Cloud since 2017, having previously worked at Cookie, the family-owned restaurant, deli and café in Gryon. The green walls may have been replaced by The Cloud’s signature blue and white, but not too much else has changed in their time. “We carried on doing the things that were working well when it was Cookie on Campus, but just put our own mark on them. We know our students love being able to customise their food and drink, for instance, so we sell special combinations named after individual students – the “David Wrap” is chicken, cheese, bacon and chilli sauce, and the “Big Z” is a chicken, cheese, lettuce, mayo and Tabasco toastie!” Based on the ground floor of La Dépendance, The Cloud (so named because “some days we feel as though we are literally up in the clouds”) has a counter-cum-serving area that leads onto three different rooms, each with a distinctly different feel. One room has desks and chairs, which caters for students wanting to work; another has couches and comfy chairs, popular with those who have come in to talk and unwind.
Café culture Charlie and Katie serve up drinks, snacks and a listening ear at The Cloud.
“In the morning, it’s mainly sixth form students popping in for coffee. After school, it’s the younger students who come in, which is when the noise ramps up! But our busiest time is morning break, when everyone pours in to share all the latest news and gossip.” And do the students have their favourites? “Oh yes! From the savoury menu board it’s the barbecue chicken toastie, closely followed by the ham and cheese version. For sweet treats, it’s cookies – either chocolate chip or double chocolate.” So, while he makes a brilliant Big Z, Charlie takes even greater pride in the young people he serves, sharing their journey from assignments and exams through to graduation. “I love talking to the students, listening to their stories, where they’re from, and what they get up to during the holidays,” he says. “No day is ever the same. I’ve seen a lot of the students grow from Year 9 to sixth form – and watching them graduate is great. I get to be part of their adventure as they go through school.”
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Read Aiglon's award-winning magazine! In this issue: SCHOOL: What happened when Aiglon went digital? MOUNTAIN: Service – whether at home or...
Published on Jul 8, 2020
Read Aiglon's award-winning magazine! In this issue: SCHOOL: What happened when Aiglon went digital? MOUNTAIN: Service – whether at home or...