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Unity in diversity

Posted on: 15th October 2013 | Category: Message from the Headmistress

Unity in diversity has been a strong theme at Surval this month. We began term less than a month ago, with a superb brunch attended by the majority of our parents, who had travelled across the globe, from Colombia to South Africa, Texas to the Ukraine, to see their daughters settle in to their new surroundings. The eleven different nationalities amongst forty students have given us the diversity we sought as an international school: and we are working hard to ensure girls speak English as much as possible, and mix beyond their language groups. This melting pot of nations is a microcosm of the world beyond Surval, the world in which our girls will live and work, and in which they will have considerable influence. They are learning the customs and culture of others and learning how to negotiate and live with difference.

Four of our students are attending the Community and Leadership Development Symposium in New Delhi in November. Of the thirty two countries invited, ours will be the first team ever from Switzerland, and they go therefore not only as ambassadors for Surval but also as ambassadors for our host country: a rare privilege and responsibility. The theme of the Symposium this year is Unity in Diversity. The girls who will represent us embody this theme: Farah Al Bahar from Kuwait: Natalia Peregrina from Mexico; Annemarie Potgieter from South Africa and Vanessa Rodriguez from Colombia. The team itself represents our diversity, whilst Switzerland encapsulates everything the Symposium could imagine in terms of diversity and unity. The different cantons, each with its own rules and regulations; the geography, from mountains to lakes, pasture to high tec city; cheese and chocolate making to world renowned banking system; watchmaking from the earliest times in small villages to the most sophisticated medical research. All these diverse factors make up a country which has at least four different languages and none in common. Yet the pride in the nation-what makes Switzerland-is visible as you drive through any town or village where private houses as well as restaurants and hotels are all flying the Swiss flag.

The girls will go therefore, as a united and diverse team, to act as ambassadors for this truly unusual country to which we belong by invitation rather than birth. Unlike other teams, none of our girls is a national of the country; none has residence apart from at school; none speaks any of the languages as mother tongue. We do not have a uniform for Surval, in any sense of that word. But we are enormously proud of who we are, as a school; of where we are, in this wonderful country which has accepted us; and of the team which is working so hard to represent Surval in both its diversity and its unity. 


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