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Student Blog: Lucia's Learning Journey

17 June 2019

Tomorrow, Lucia, G12, Spain, graduates from Surval after three happy and successful years. Share in her journey below...

“Without Surval, I wouldn’t be the person be the person I am today”

“I was never supposed to come to Surval as a permanent student,” says Lucia, who is sitting in one of Surval’s sunlit classrooms, looking out over the lake as she talks. “My Mom had agreed to two weeks of Summer Camp and that was it!” However, Lucia, who first came to Surval at age fourteen in summer 2016 from her home in Bilbao, Spain, immediately fell in love with the school. Having been educated at the Lycee Français de Bilbao from the age of three, she was now determined to stay on in Switzerland as a student for the school year. “I barely spoke any English – only French and Spanish – so I had to get the Summer Camp staff to help me with the paperwork – luckily, they were all so enthusiastic and helpful! I knew I had to take the lead in organising my admission in order to convince my Mom that I was capable of living abroad and of learning a new language.” Lucia’s initiative and efforts paid off – her parents allowed her to return for the school year 2016/17, entering at Grade 10.

A bright and enthusiastic student, whose life philosophy is to “say yes to the opportunities we are presented with”, Lucia quickly settled into Surval life, learning English at an impressive rate, studying for her IGCSE qualifications and signing up to lots of extra-curricular enrichment activities, including becoming a devoted member of the Charity Committee. Already an accomplished ballerina and equestrienne, Lucia was eager to try some of the new sports on offer to her at Surval, and soon became a valued member of the basketball and volleyball teams, and a keen skier. She seized the chance to participate in the Bronze International Award, successfully completing this in one year, and set herself the challenge of moving straight to the Gold Award, which she finished in May of this year. “Doing the IA really helped me to develop my leadership and teamwork skills, and this year, as I worked towards completing my Gold, I’ve been mentoring the students who are undertaking their Bronze; it’s really helped to consolidate my leadership skills.”

Benefitting from the small class sizes at Surval and the high level of individual support on offer, Lucia rose to the challenge of being taught her IGCSE subjects in English, gaining IGCSEs in English, French and Spanish, in addition to History and Mathematics. A diligent student with a long-held ambition of becoming a lawyer, an interest first sparked when helping her brother revise for his Law examinations (“I was also questioning him about the terminology and intricacies of individual case studies”), Lucia can often be found studying in Surval’s beautiful library, her back to the panoramic view of the mountains, her dark head barely visible above a pile of books. Lucia’s commitment to her studies and wider-school life, and her wonderfully enthusiastic, appreciative and inclusive attitude established her as a strong role model in the school: at the end of her first year at Surval, she was voted Student of the Year, the biggest honour Surval bestows upon a student. In June 2017, at our 55th Surval Graduation and Prizegiving, which took place at the majestic Chateau Chillon on the shores of Lake Geneva, the girl who had been “frustrated not to be able to communicate with anyone in English” during Summer Camp, stood up in front of an audience of Surval students, parents and staff, and, with beautiful composure and characteristic animation, delivered the Vote of Thanks to a standing ovation.

There was no question of whether Lucia would return the following year; now a dedicated Surval girl, she came back in September of 2017 ready to take on the challenge of the first year of her A Levels. “I was very clear that I wanted to study History and Languages,” Lucia recalls, “but I’ve always been glad of the help from my teachers and the Head of Academics to make sure that I was following the right path. My teachers have always supported and reassured me, instilling in me the necessary confidence to overcome academic challenges.” As Student of the Year 2016/17, Lucia became Chairperson of the school’s new Student Voice committee, a leadership initiative designed to “give all the girls a voice and let them feel that their opinions are heard”, and which was first proposed to staff in a presentation led by Lucia herself. Lucia also joined the school’s new Model United Nations Club, which intensified her interest in Law: “MUN really stimulated my intellectual curiosity in ethics within the legal system.” At various MUN European Conferences, Lucia has debated on issues such as the Kashmir Border Crisis and the Cambodian Genocide, developing the skills necessary to draft policy statements and resolutions. As one of the most experienced members of the club, Lucia then took on the role of Chairperson of the UNESCO Committee in Surval's recent MUN Conference.

Having achieved A grade passes in French and Spanish at AS Level, and a B in History – “a fascinating subject, as you acquire so much knowledge” – Lucia is now preparing for her final A Level examinations. She is reluctant to tempt fate by talking too much about her hopes for the future, speaking tentatively of her plan to undertake a degree in LLB English Law and French / Master 1 (Maitrise en Droit) at the University of Exeter in England, before “hopefully coming back to Switzerland to do a Masters in International Law and Human Rights”. And what about her plans for this summer? At this question, Lucia’s face lights up with her radiant smile. “My Surval friends and the friends I made doing my Gold IA expedition in Marbella are all coming to Spain to celebrate my 18th birthday,” she beams. “I can’t wait.” As the bell goes to signal the end of the school day, I ask Lucia if there is anything else that she wants to mention about her learning journey here at Surval.  Her response is all we, the staff at Surval, could hope for: “I know for sure that, without Surval, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. This school has given me so much and challenged me in all possible ways to become the best version of myself. It has not only shaped me academically, but has permitted me to meet amazing people and make lifelong friends that I know I will always have by my side.”