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Memories of Surval: Regina (2007 - 2010)

Posted on: 28th March 2017

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.”


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