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Winter 2017

Celebrating ou r Survaliennes ac ross the world

Survaliennes - Special Edition

2017 1961

Celebrating Excellence in Girls’ Education for 55 years

Table of Contents 2 - Welcome from the Principal

15 - In Memory of Monsieur Sidler

3 - Now and Then

16 - 55 Anniversary Celebrations June 2017

7 - Letter to my Surval Self

17 - Alumnae News

9 - Memories of Surval - Interviews

21 - Stay in Touch

13 - Alumnae Profile - Amalia Lopez


Surval | Winter 2017

Welcome from the Principal The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day which we celebrated recently at Surval was ‘Be Bold For Change’. At Surval, we are celebrating our own kind of change in 2017 as we mark 55 years of Excellence in Girls’ Education. Our school has always been unique and although it has changed in many ways from the Finishing School that opened its doors in 1961, much of what makes it so special has stayed the same. We are still the small, international school we always were, dedicated to supporting each and every one of our girls, helping them to find their feet and to spread their wings. Speaking with members of the extended Surval family who used to study here, it is clear that Surval changed many of them, allowing them to gain in confidence and helping them discover their individual paths. We hope those paths will lead some of them back here this June, for our Graduation, where we are thrilled to welcome Survalienne, businesswoman and entrepreneur Amalia Lopez as guest speaker. We are delighted to celebrate her and our other alumnae in this newsletter which has as its focus our former students and we plan to make this Survaliennes’ publication an annual feature. Our alumnae are as much a part of our family as our current pupils and we are delighted that so many of them still have such fond memories of their school, including the lifelong friendships they made and the positive changes Surval brought to their lives.

This term our school’s family has been giving a lot of thought to what the notion of being ‘Bold For Change’ means to them. Our Liberal Arts students have been working on a communications project which will be further developed over the course of the next few months. Launched this International Women’s Day, it follows the theme of being ‘Bold For Change’, and includes a blog, where Surval students will have the opportunity to share their perspectives on issues that matter to them. As part of this, they are already writing about other women who have inspired them: individuals whose stories and experiences show just what it is to be ‘Bold for Change’. The result is a fascinating and eclectic gallery which speaks volumes about the Surval girls who have created it. But more than that, the project will also allow them to develop experiences and expertise which will help them in the future. It will teach them new skills, broaden their horizons and give them the chance to understand more about the paths they may wish to follow, in whatever field that may be. It will embolden them to be the change they want to be in the world - and hopefully inspire others to do the same. And, as they change, we know too that they will still need something to hold firm to. It is my firm belief that the greatest gifts we can give children are roots and wings: roots to keep them grounded and secure and wings to enable them to soar. This is the Surval story, as true today as for the last 55 years.

It is a story that rings true today. Since becoming Principal of this unique school, I have had the opportunity to see change at first hand in the girls who walked through the door with me in September. They have gained the kind of confidence and courage which comes from the compassionate, cosmopolitan and close community that Surval has always been.

Mrs Patricia Woodhouse, Principal of Surval

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


Now and Then Any girl who has ever attended Surval is part of a wider alumnae community that reaches every corner of the world. The Survaliennes form an international network of inspiring and successful women, and we are immensely proud of what they have achieved since leaving Surval. Here are some of our Survaliennes: now and then.Â

Stella Noschese Teixeira, School Year 1978/1979

Monica Ruiz, School Year 1980/1981

Monica Ruiz with Daughter Macarena Martinez, who currently studies at Surval


Surval | Winter 2017

Christina Ubing, School Year 1977/1978 Christina with her Surval friend Kathy Watson Fenn representing Surval at the Rose d’Or and then today!

oon bike ride to

Saturday aftern

Christina with her Surval friend Teca Pontual Vilmar in Andermatt celebrating Carnaval and then 38 years later celebrating her birthday!


the French bord

My bedroom

ay My 19th birthd

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


Amalia Villarreal, School Year 1968/1969

...and her daughter, Amalia Lopez who left Surval in 1996


Surval | Winter 2017

Silvia Lima, School Year 1989/1990

in January 2017 Visit to Surval ro, Concierge Silvia with Alva

Silvia was interviewed by Brazilian television channel Bandeirantes and gave her opinion about the challenges business women face in a male-dominated environment.

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


Letter to my Surval Self As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day and the theme ‘Be Bold for Change’, we asked several Survaliennes what advice they would give their teenage selves. Here we hear from some of them:

Monica Ruiz, School Year 1980/1981 Dear Monica, I’m sure you will remember your time at Surval as one of the happiest of your life. You don’t have to worry about anything, just enjoy yourself. - Make the most of this experience, it will never come back. - Take advantage of all the knowledge they are going to teach you, you’ll never know when you are going to need it. - Never be afraid to try new things, you might enjoy them. - Always be kind with those less fortunate than you. - A smile is the best way to communicate when the words won’t come easy. - Take good care of the friends you are going to make at Surval, they will be lifetime ones. - During your residential trips, learn to respect other cultures; not only yours. - Be nice to your teachers, they are there for you. - Know how privileged you are to be able to attend such wonderful school. - Be aware of the chocolate!!! It´s delicious, but watch out for the extra pounds HAHA And last, but not least, be happy and enjoy everything!!!!!

Amalia Lopez, School Year 1995/1996 Dear Amalia, Now, as an entrepreneur, jewellery designer and business consultant what would I tell my 16-year-old self? Journal more, write about your experiences, what you feel, how you are inspired by each moment. Keep a record of the places you go to, and how each place is similar and different to what you already know. Write about what you see, and write about the enriching conversations with friends and teachers. Connect, really connect with them. Take photographs, but be careful! Don’t miss out the real experience by being on social media all day. Remember, the best lens is the eye and the best filter is the heart.


Surval | Winter 2017

Christina Ubing, School Year 1977/1978 My experience at Surval started out as a dream, my best friend Kathy Watson and I had. My parents thought it was a “teenage thing�, that we would soon forget about it. Well we did not and on January 5, 1978 that dream became a reality as I arrived at Surval. The experience of living with girls from all corners of the world is hard to describe. Together we learned, travelled and developed friendships that would last a lifetime. I entered the University immediately following Surval, majoring in Communications and languages. My French Diploma became an asset and eventually I joined a French Bank as Vice President where I remained for 18 years. Social media helped re-connect with some of the girls worldwide. And today, we have remained in touch as if it was yesterday when we were eating Raclette and Poire Helene! The best advice I can give is enjoy the moment; believe me etiquette class will come in handy. You are bound to remember something about cooking or skiing, languages will be an asset and your friendships will be forever. But above all is the experience of being at Surval. And this is something that no one will ever take away from you.

Silvia Lima, School Year 1989/1990 It was a very important experience, gave me the chance to make new friends, to relate to teachers and students from different background. It was very important, although not long enough. The time I spent there gave me the basis for the future development of my character and abilities. This is something that I brought into my adult life and my business activities. I would like to give this opportunity to my daughter. My most sincere advice would be to enjoy this unique opportunity to learn and to widen my horizon regarding people, other cultures, habits, backgrounds and to put in to practice later on what I can learn, to become a young adult with the ability to face the challenges of an ever-changing world. Had I known this at the time when I was 16 and came to Surval‌. What I can say today to the new students is enjoy and make the most of it!

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


Memories of Surval Interviews with Survaliennes

“The experience I gained here was really, really good. It made me more outgoing and it changed me inside, because before I came here I was a little bit shy and not confident in myself.” Sofya Zhuravleva, School Year 2014/2015 Sofya Zhuravleva was 13 when she first came to Surval for Summer Camp. It was a big step for the Russian teenager who had never lived away from home, but she had no need for concern. “It was really like home, it wasn’t stressful at all, because of the surroundings and environment and people around me. There were quite a few Russians who were here so I could speak the same language as at home and make friends here easily and the girls here were really welcoming. Now 17, Sofya is articulate, open-minded and confident character traits she credits Surval for. “The experience I gained here was really, really good. It made me more outgoing and it changed me inside, because before I came here I was a little bit shy and not confident in myself.” She has particularly fond memories of the nurturing atmosphere Surval offers. “Here there were enough staff to look after everyone…Here they gave us enough time to be on our own, we could study at any time we liked.”


Surval | Winter 2017

The international aspect and family atmosphere offered her the ability to broaden her horizons in a unique way. “Being in an international school you become an international person and it really helps you understand other nationalities, other people not from your country and maybe understand some things that you wouldn’t think of before.” It also gave her the opportunity to take her first steps on the path she hopes to pursue in the future. “Here I understood that I like Art very much and also in Maths when we did geometry, I noticed that I really enjoyed it and I understand it really well.” Sofia now hopes to combine Architecture with Psychology at university in London. Without Surval, she says she wouldn’t be considering either Psychology or a British further education. “Surval, I think it gave me the right to choose what I want to do.”

“I always have warm thoughts and fond memories of Surval. I still think it was the best days, the best times.”

Regina Akhmadeeva, School Year 2007/2010 Regina Akhmadeeva knows what advice she would give her teenage self. “Have your own opinion, don’t be afraid…don’t be afraid to open up.” They are sterling words from this poised, articulate woman who says her time at Surval made her who she is today. Now 26 years old, Regina is finishing off her PhD in Human Resources, speaks several languages and counts among her best friends, former Surval pupils from around the world. She has come a long way from the shy 13-year-old who first attended Summer Camp at Surval in 2003, speaking minimal English. She credits Surval with helping her find the wings to take flight, recalling the difference its individualised, intimate, and international atmosphere made to her. “In many ways, it changed me. It was difficult for me when I was in Russia for example to answer some questions in school. They were telling me your answer is so bad you’re going to get a bad grade. Here, when I arrived at Surval, the first thing they told me was there is no right or wrong answer.” She says she benefitted from the lack of a rigid structure at Surval, where each girl is treated as an individual and encouraged to have “liberty of your thoughts, express yourself in a way you would like to, share”. Much of this individuality of approach comes from Surval’s size, says Regina, who swapped classes of 35 in Russia for a class of eight on her BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) programme. “It is not even the word to say important, it is vital. It’s just so important to feel you’re in a small family, everybody takes care of you.”

The international aspect of Surval’s schooling introduced Regina to lifelong friends - women from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Ukraine – gave her the skills to communicate with anyone and made her much more open-minded. Throughout her time at Surval, Regina’s confidence grew and she completed the BBA programme in 2010. Returning this Spring to Surval, Regina saw that some of the spaces and faces she remembered had changed, but the elements that make Surval so unique have not. It’s a place where memories were made and dreams created, somewhere she will always be fond of. She recalls the guidance she received from its former director Mr Sidler. “He talked to each one individually and it really helped a lot; even to me, one day he looked into my eyes and said, ‘Regina, I think you’re going to stay in Switzerland, and I didn’t even know French at the time.” He was right. Regina now calls Switzerland – and Montreux her home. Her eyes light up when she’s asked how important the setting of Surval was to her school experience. “The location is the best. I never get used to it. Now I go for a walk and I see Surval, I always see Surval. I always have some warm thoughts. I still think it was the best days, the best times.”

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


Alumnae Profile Amalia Lopez School Year 1995/1996

Amalia Lopez will be this year’s guest speaker at our Graduation. I came to Surval in 1996 because my mom is a former Survalienne of 1969. She has great memories, and I found great photographs of her time also! We spent today reminiscing about the similarities and differences of both experiences. First, I´ll tell you my mom’s story: My mom, Amalia Villarreal, knew she wanted to be a doctor since she was a kid. On family trips to the ranch and outdoors, she would “build her hospital”, where she treated wounded animals like birds and squirrels. After high school, my grandpa, one of the first radiologists in Monterrey, asked her daughter what she wanted to study, she did not hesitate to say: ‘a doctor just like you’. Foreseeing how difficult and absorbing medical school can be, especially for a young lady, he offered her a year studying languages, which my mom loved. She had amazing times in Surval, learning French, Italian, German, and practising with her new friends from all over the world. She remembers her friends from different backgrounds,


Surval | Winter 2017

enriching conversations and fun trips to Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia, and around Europe. Some of the countries she visited don’t even exist anymore! She became a very good skier, and remembers skiing every morning during winter season and having her language courses during the afternoon at Crans-Sur-Sierre. During this year, her view of the world changed, she became more open to all cultures and passionate about helping others. When she came back, she was even more excited about becoming a medical doctor to be able to impact positively in the world. She graduated with honours, receiving a medal for the best medical student of her university in Mexico from the president of Mexico at that time. She knows Surval changed her life, made her more responsible, aware and brought her many great friends. She remembers M. Sidler with great appreciation and respect. (This brings tears to her eyes). Inspired by my mom, I began studying French at the age of 11, with the dream of going to the same school my mom had, Surval.

The day came when I got on an Air Swiss plane and headed to my dream. I remember arriving several days before and meeting Jessica Arreola and her mom. They invited me to travel before school started. Those acts of kindness stay with you forever, and she has remained my friend. Then came my roommate, Sofia Lopez. She became my sister, and we remain sisters to this day. “The Lopez’s Sisters room” became the meeting place, having 10 girls over at the same time. That was so much fun! We listened to music, dyed our hair, had spa nights with face masks and had loooooong girl talks at night. All this fun also got us into trouble! I am sorry for the patient madams always having to come to the room and get us into bed at time. We also had the privilege of knowing M. Sidler and Mme. Furrer. They were great inspiration for us and a source of good discipline and knowledge.

We soon became close friends, all of us, so different, from different backgrounds and countries: Saudi Arabia, Japan, India, France, Switzerland, Mexico, Venezuela, the sweet Russian girls, but all of us having friendship and acceptance as a priority. We had wonderful travels together, I even celebrated my birthday in Lugano, and visited Isola Bella, one of the most beautiful places I have been to. We went to Cannes and London, building memories that we hold dear, and which have kept us friends till this day. Sofia, Lissa, Mariana, Orianna, Rocio, Elialu, Jessica, Gaby, Gela, Martha, Lydia, Ivanna, Noora, Lora, Sveltana, Helena, Anne, Kate, Yelena, Nitasha, Petra, Desiree, Tsunemi, all unforgettable friends. I loved my Arts Programme. We had a great teacher who took us to Bern to see a Marc Chagall exhibition. I remember how inspiring that was. It was during my stay at Surval, studying arts, when I became certain about pursuing a creative career. When you are 16, you cannot yet foresee how important and inspiring a unique school like Surval will change your life.

During the day we had French classes, Art classes, Etiquette and Aerobics. I remember singing a song for relaxation time after Aerobics class. Everything was so spontaneous and we really felt at home.

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


She admits her school journey hasn’t always been an easy one, but her persistence has paid off and the enthusiasm with which she speaks about the school and her obvious happiness at being here is thanks in large part to the opportunities Surval has given her to be an individual and carve her own path. Even still, Nauf is keen to underline that none of this would have been possible without the support of her father to whom she is immensely grateful. “I always tell myself that without my dad I really don’t know what to do. He taught me so many things so I can be confident, independent, happy. He wants me to have a more happy social life and education and this is the moment I am having right now.” She’s not the first from her family and, with a younger halfsister, says she may not be the last to come to Surval. And even though she is currently the only one of her sisters to be at the school, she doesn’t need to feel lonely. For someone from such a close family, it’s heart-warming to hear how Nauf describes the others at the school. “The girls here are like my sisters,” she says, the smile on her face adding real warmth to her words. “We are just an amazing group and we like to have fun and do activities and most importantly travel.” Travel has opened Nauf ’s eyes and changed her outlook in more ways than she could ever have imagined.

Nauf - Saudi Arabia

“It actually made me gain more confidence and make me know who I am more so I can see what to do – dos and don’ts. And live happily.”

Former student who returned for the Liberal Arts Programme 2016/2017

Nauf has had the opportunity to explore many parts of the world, learn more about different cultures – she says she was particularly taken with China, though not really a fan of the food. She has better news for the new chef at Surval and says that the food has really improved since he took over.

Nauf is one of Surval Montreux’s students from Saudi Arabia. She has been coming to Surval since her father introduced her to the school through its Summer Camp when she was a little girl. From the library, which has replaced the old living room to a new generation of teachers who encourage students to think for themselves, Nauf says much has changed in her time at Surval. “I love the new teachers, they are so sociable, open-minded, really great listeners. Whenever they ask a question or I want to ask or give an opinion, they like to hear more about what we want to say.” “Now, I am taking more time to understand – they are giving me more information, give me more to take my time. If I don’t understand they say please repeat again and again, here they are actually giving me time so I can understand and I am thankful for that.” But perhaps the biggest changes Nauf recognises have been personal ones.


Surval | Winter 2017

Looking to the future, Nauf is clear about her dreams and ambitions. She wants to be a celebrated photographer, building on a skill and passion she first developed at Surval Summer Camp and her love of travel which she has been able to enjoy through extensive overseas trips with the school community. Speaking about her hopes for the future, Nauf recalls seeing a TV interview about a famous photographer who travels the world taking photographs. “I was like I want to be like him and I want to travel the world. I said to my dad one day I am going to save my money and travel the world and be the best photographer I can.” And she’s practising her passion daily. After all, with a canvas like Surval’s, where the snow covered mountains skim the lake and most days Nauf wakes to a glorious sunrise, it’s the perfect location for an aspiring photographer. “I can’t help taking pictures almost every day. I used to live in the fourth floor – now my balcony is so much better. The view gets better and better every day. Take a picture at sunrise. Focus on the sunrise and you will be amazed about how beautiful it is.”

In Memory of... Monsieur Sidler Here Mr Sidler, Surval’s long-time director is remembered by Madame Furrer, Assistant de Direction (retired) MR FRITZ SIDLER Surval Director from 1972 to 2010 Surval Montreux, formerly called Pensionnat Surval and then Surval Mont-Fleuri, was created in 1961 by Mr Sidler’s aunt by marriage, Mrs Georgette F. Andreae. As early as 1967, he began his career at Surval. In 1972, he became the director and then purchased the school in 1976. He increased the size of the student body, built on additional rooms, installed a tennis court, modernized the school facilities and created a language laboratory and a fine arts workshop. In 1987, Mr F. Sidler bought an exclusive property, the former Hotel Mont Fleuri, magnificently located on a hill above Territet and Montreux. The name of the school became Surval Mont-Fleuri. He undertook important transformations of the building and in April 1988, the first group of students came to attend classes and live in this spectacular new infrastructure, with an unrestricted view of Lake Léman and the Alps. The school programmes have been improved, diversified, and adapted to the modern requirements of young ladies to such an extent that today it has become a “must” for any young woman seeking success in her professional and private life: the only boarding school experience for young women. Mr Fritz Sidler was a very dynamic and energetic person adored by his students. Unfortunately, he passed away all too soon in February 2010, losing his long battle with the illness that finally took his life. F. Furrer 1 March 2017

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017



Mrs Patricia Woodhouse, Principal, warmly requests the pleasure of your company at

Our Graduation and Prizegiving

To celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Surval Montreux Monday 19 June 2017 Family Brunch at Surval Evening Soirée on Lac Léman Tuesday 20 June Celebrations at Château de Chillon *Please note costs apply for the Brunch and Soirée

Guest Speaker: Amalia Lopez Survalienne from Mexico, Class of 1996 Founder of Malia Joyeria

RSVP by Thursday 20 April 2017 RSVP to


Surval | Winter 2017

Order of Events Monday 19 June 11am Brunch at Surval

Monday 19 June 7pm Evening cruise on Lac Léman aboard La Galère 60CHF per person

Tuesday 20 June 10.30am Graduation at Château de Chillon Guided tour of the Castle, Aperitif, Graduation Ceremony and Lunch 60CHF for 3rd guest onwards

RSVP by Thursday 20 April 2017 RSVP to

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


Alumnae News Stories and news from Survaliennes across the world

“This is a picture from my time at Surval. I honestly had the best time at Surval. It made me more independent and made me realise how amazing and interesting living the Swiss life was. I can happily and safely say I had the best two years over there and I miss it so much.” Pooja Bhansali, School Years 2014/2016

“I came to Surval during my gap year after school. I had no clue what I wanted to do then and my mother suggested I join Surval. I chose cooking as one of the extra courses there, and it is there where I first learnt to cook and realised that this is what I’d like to do. I then went to Le Cordon Bleu and I am now a chef opening my own restaurant ‘chef’s table’ here in Chennai, India. I would not have arrived here if it hadn’t been for Surval.” Madhulika Sundaram, School Year 2006/2007

In memory of... We were sorry to hear from Trijnie Wijk-Notenbomer (72-73) that Delia Floriza Gonzalez Espinosa de los Monteros passed away in January this year.


Surval | Winter 2017

idmer ding to Alex W

wed om 2010 at her Andrea Arzu fr

With many of ou r former studen Rosa Toledo 20 ts as guests: 10, Maria Mav rokordatos 2010 2010, Maria Jo , Lorenza Luen se Garcia 2010 go , Maria Fernanda Anika Garcia G Belloso 2010, allont 2010, Fa biola Aycinena 2010, Cecilia A 2006, Nicole A ycinena 2010, G rzu abriela Rodas 20 14, Marcela Arzu 2014, Mar iella Fernandez 2014.

rval in 2014, Arzu who left Su le ol ic N r, te sis Andrea’s sister Cristina with her other y ar nu Ja in us the Arzu came visit to 18 – the last of 20 y ar nu Ja in e who will com daughters.

Class Reunion 1989-1990 in El Lisa Diaz de M Salvador: eriggio, Gaby Q uesada, Paula O Nathalie Barrai rtiz Mena, l de Lombardo, Guille Sandoval Pa rra, Sandra Pardi de Moren o

ol Year otenbomer, Scho Trijnie Wijk-N from her us some photos 1972/1974 sent time at Surval

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


Nicole Saad, 2007/2008 at her engagement to Galen Eckenroth “We usually go surfing in San Diego, CA after I drive up from my hometown Ensenada, Mexico but this time he surprised me by asking to surf with him the rest of our lives. I have attached a few pictures from my engagement! I hold Surval very close to my heart, I met my best friends there and we still see each other/travel together every year. We are the group that started wearing clothing/hats that say Surval Sisters. Hope everything is going well in Switzerland, I miss it so much!!�

In November 20

16, Ani Modi, who left in 2009 and saw her form , visited Surval er French teach er, Mme Monne y

Ola Kayal and Ophelia Thorp from 2009/201 visited Surval an 0 d their friend, ou r current student N auf, in November 2016

GR and spoke to our 12 so al ho w la O to Thank you also about careers. Liberal Arts girls


Surval | Winter 2017

Monterrey Reu nion 1987/198 Tatiana Molines 8 , Gabriela de la Garza, Marisela Isabel Garza, N Reyes, Ana orma Garza, Ale jandra de la Gar za

Graduation Class of 1996/1997 – 10 years since you left Surval!!!

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


Stay in Touch As members of our world-wide Survaliennes community we encourage all alumnae to stay in touch with the school and each other. We send out regular newsletters, updates and invite Survaliennes to events in Switzerland and across the world. To ensure you benefit from this, please contact us with your up to date contact details on


Surval | Winter 2017

Survaliennes Special Edition | Winter 2017


For further information, please contact Surval Montreux Surval Montreux, Route de Glion 56 1820 Montreux, Switzerland

+41 (0)21 966 16 16

Surval News - Winter 2017  
Surval News - Winter 2017