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Student Leadership

In today’s competitive world, strong leadership skills are crucial for both personal and professional development. Leaders are people that have a vision of what they want to achieve and the courage to achieve it. They have the ability to empower and support their team.

At Surval, we have various groups that allow us, as students, to hone our leadership skills whilst making improvements to the lives of those at Surval and in the wider community.

Leadership at Surval: The Student Voice

The Student Voice committee was created in give girls a voice within the school. Different values, opinions and perspectives come together in a democratic system in which each girl is heard. Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. The Student Voice’s goal is to make suggestions for change within school and introduce new ideas for developing the learning, enrichment and boarding experience here at Surval.

The committee is structured to create leadership opportunities for students of all ages. There is a Chairperson and a representative from each tutor group.  The representative rotates on a termly basis.

The Chairperson’s prepares the meetings and mediates between students, writes the minutes and meets with Ms Dudley to take ideas forward.  Representatives also acquire and develop important skills:

  • Patience through discussion with other students, respecting and allowing opinions to be shared
  • Creativity and imagination by sharing ideas for new initiatives and activities for the school
  • Self-motivation and time management, learning how to balance our studies and extracurricular commitments.
  • Tact and diplomacy by learning how to express ourselves appropriately and supporting others with their ideas.

The Student Voice allows students to channel their opinions, passions and ambitions in a constructive way; it encourages students to create new initiatives, inspire others with their actions, and become great leaders.

Leadership at Surval: The Charity Committee

Something that makes Surval unique is the importance that is placed on being charitable: countless charitable initiatives take place throughout the school year. Generosity, in all its forms, is upheld as a major virtue at the school; and the school’s Charity Committee is at the heart of this ethos.

The Charity Committee aims to give every girl at Surval the chance to lend a hand to those that need our help. Each tutor group has a Charity Committee representative, which changes every term. Representatives develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills in tutor group discussions and Charity Committee meetings, planning and leading assemblies and fundraising events.

At Surval every girl, not just those in the committee, is encouraged to play a part in giving, whether by using her voice to raise awareness, her actions to give help, or her donations to raise funds. This requires significant coordination from the committee members.

We are particularly proud of the scope of our committee – we have touched the lives of people around the world, both young and old. As international students all living in Switzerland, it is important to us to give back to our local community in a variety of ways, including gifting our time. Every Tuesday, Surval girls volunteer at Cartons du Coeur, delivering boxes of food to local families in need. On Fridays, two girls (on a rota basis) attend L’Etape, another charity that gives food to people in need. The Swiss Gap and Winter Camp students visit Le Byron residential home for the elderly weekly, brightening the lives of the men and women who live there with games, singing, painting and chat.

As part of the Swiss Telethon, Surval has an annual fundraiser each year to support ASRIMM (the “Association Suisse Romande Intervenant contre les Maladies neuro-Musculaires”), with committee members leading the awareness assembly and fundraising, and liaising with ASRIMM. Further afield, the Charity Committee has held many events to raise funds for the school’s Habitat for Humanity trip to build a house for a family in need in Kenya, and our International Day of the Girl Child assembly, events and fundraiser supported the Varkey Foundation, a worldwide organisation focused on improving the standards of education for underprivileged children.

We cherish the chance to be part of Surval’s Charity Committee; we as students are given a new perspective on what generosity means - giving money and giving time. When we return home, to wherever home may be, to whatever the needs of our own communities, we will be able to use the skills learned at Surval to help those most in need.

Leadership at Surval: The Food Committee

The Surval Food Committee was founded to give girls a say about the food offering here at school. It is important that everyone wants to eat, and to eat the right things. As Committee Representative Roby (Mexico), says:

"Food is my passion! The right food can lift your mood; the wrong food can bring you down"

Being Food Committee representative calls on girls’ leadership skills. We need to give everyone in our tutor group the opportunity to share their ideas, take all proposals or comments to the Food Committee meetings, and then report back fully on the decisions made and reasons behind these. We must attend the meetings ourselves, write and share agendas, take turns chairing the meetings and writing and sharing the meeting minutes afterwards. We need to be diplomatic in our communication between the students and the kitchen team, ensuring that there is a balance between constructive suggestions and positive feedback.

Being part of the Food Committee also involves discussing important aspects in the sourcing and cooking of food.  This includes the need to order locally sourced and seasonal produce, where possible or – particularly important in our multi-cultural environment – food that fits particular cultural or religious requirements. The Food Committee promotes celebrating Surval’s international community, with an increasingly international menu giving us all the chance to try different foods from around the world and share in each other’s food culture.  Nastya (Russia) says,

"I had never tried Mexican food before coming to Surval, and now I often eat at Mexican restaurants!"

Our end of term Christmas meal, chosen by the girls, consisted of a Russian starter, Mexican main course and Croatian dessert.

The Food Committee is also proud of the healthier initiatives we have introduced – among others, salad bowls, a range of berries and nuts, less sugar in the sauces and a fresh orange juicer! The Food Committee is now in its third year and we have been pleased with our influence as we prove ourselves a responsible and knowledgeable team.

Leadership at Surval: The Sustainability Society

As Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Sustainability icon sixteen year old Greta Thunberg has shown, we do not have to wait until we are older to be powerful leaders in the field of Sustainability: we may be young, but, like Thunberg, we can still use our voices and our actions to become important and inspirational leaders and influencers of positive change.

The purpose of Surval’s Sustainability Society is to:

  1. Raise awareness of vital issues in Sustainability, primarily the climate crisis and plastic pollution
  2. Educate staff and students on the causes of these and the actions that they can take to combat them
  3. Implement positive initiatives and changes at Surval to make our school more sustainable.

Our weekly meetings identify issues, from within the school to wider problems, and find solutions to help tackle these. We speak about the psychology behind climate change denial and try to find ways to promote behavioural change.

At Surval, Sustainability Society members coordinate visits from outside speakers, such as Protect Our Winters Switzerland and Climate Change academics. We have led assemblies on plastic pollution, global warming and coral bleaching. We have started a school garden, in which we grow herbs, vegetables and bee-friendly plants. We have pitched “no-fly” trip ideas to the Senior Leadership Team and, as a result, there will be more trips by coach and train next school year, allowing girls to discover the beauties of neighbouring cities and countries whilst reducing their carbon footprint.

Looking to the future, we dream of seeing Surval powered by renewable energy, with girls transported when necessary by electric vehicles. Strong leadership will be essential if we are to achieve our goals.

The reality is that the climate crisis is the greatest threat facing our generation, and we need strong leaders now. As the Head of Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo, states: “Children are often told they are ‘tomorrow’s leaders’. But if they wait until ‘tomorrow’ there may not be a future in which to lead. Young people are putting their leaders to shame with the passion and determination they are showing to fight this crucial battle now.” Being a member of the Surval Sustainability Committee means that we do not have to wait until “tomorrow” to lead; today is the day to use our voices and actions to lead the change to a sustainable way of living that protects our planet for the future.

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