Springtime at the Ecole

Thursday, 01. May 2014

by Daniel Davis Wood

After returning to the Ecole campus yesterday afternoon, all Ecole students came together in the Grossen Saal today to welcome the term ahead. With the sun shining brightly outside and all the winter snow having melted away, teachers Sarah and Alain used the theme of springtime renewal to prepare students for the eventful weeks ahead.

Sarah and Alain began with a famous line from Voltaire’s Candide, "Il faut cultiver notre jardin" or “We must cultivate our garden,” and then they asked students what form this cultivation might take within each person and within the broader Ecole community. Noting that they were addressing the student body on the anniversary of the death of Paul Geheeb, the founder of the school, Sarah and Alain said that personal cultivation involves, first of all, observing and learning from the rhythms of past seasons. Then, they added, it involves pulling out the weeds of bad habits and fertilizing the crops of friendship, as well as planting the seeds of dedication, open-mindedness, and compassion, which students will need as they prepare to face two weeks of AP exams, a six-day hike, and farewells to those among us who will have soon completed their schooling here.

The school assembly also included a warm welcome for students who are new to the Ecole this term, and a reminder for everyone to make an effort appreciate the Swiss springtime as much as they can in a term that will last for only eight weeks. Next on the agenda are lots of choices for students to make: morning courses, afternoon courses, and, of course, routes for the hike that will take place sometime towards June.