The lights have only just gone out on the 50th anniver- sary party and already it’s time for me to leave. We had hoped it would never end, this night where our classroom adventures were presented on stage for all to see. How to continue the celebration in the light of day? Of course, by being true to our strong belief in building a better future.
The last letter addressed to me at school was from
I am leaving the French American International School to
take a diplomatic post with the French Foreign Service, on the
Quai d’Orsay. One could see this as a radical career change. I
see it as the continuation of my work over the past seventeen
years at our school, just in different form. After all, aren’t both
about a deep curiosity for the world, the international scene,
cooperation, speaking other languages and understanding
other cultures, relationships between people, multiculturalism,
our common history, a love of travel?
Our school’s mission of diversity and openness toward
otherness can also be found in my family, with our roots on
every continent and our multi-lingualism, and from a larger
picture view, in all the ways that I embody diversity because
of my heritage, and because of life’s synchronicities.
I also think that our school, by virtue of
its philosophy and mission, not only allows,
but encourages civic engagement. For
example, from 2003–2009, I served as the
representative of French citizens living in the
western United States, an elected position in
the French government which brought me
to Paris on a regular basis on behalf of my
constituency. My election was thanks to the
close ties between our school and the larger
The school also offers encouragement
for each one of us to shine in the public eye.
That each student, and each person working
with us, can grow, accomplish and achieve
outside of school highlights our institution
as a key element in the development of our
fully realized selves. In return, there is a
place for every one of our singular talents to
be expressed and embraced within our walls.
This is where our students find reflection,
inspiration, dreams, knowledge, perspectives,
possible futures, role-models, ambitions,
passions. This is what I had hoped to offer
to my students and – joy of joys! – these are
the discoveries they have been graciously
thanking me for over the years, and in their
emotional goodbyes this spring, on the
occasion of our first half-century.
These are rare, very rare qualities in
any organization and are most assuredly
the trademark of our Head of School, Jane
Camblin. Our school’s fiftieth anniversary is
also a celebration of her life’s work.