Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Danke -Thank You - ZIS!

I would like to say thank you for my visit to the Zurich International School Middle School in Kilchberg, Switzerland!

I walked to school, through meadows, pastures and a wooded ridge about the Sihl river, with my Uncle - Mr. Hovey - on Tuesday morning from Langau am Albis. The plan was to spend the morning there, using the gym facility for a strength workout and sitting in on one of my Uncle's 7th grade history classes. Upon arrival, there was a flurry of students and faculty, many of whom I was able to meet, and finally put a face and location to many of my Uncle's peers and students. I joined in on Ms. Meier's 6th grade Advisory class (like homeroom) and explained a bit about who I am and what had brought me to Zurich for a few days. Many of them had just watched the previous weekend's competition in Italy, so my visit was timed well. Next, I used their gym to get in a short strength session. I shared the room with some students who were using the space as a quite reading room. Their book: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. They were reading in English about the American west. I could perfectly picture the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevadas, Alaska, the Grand Canyon and such iconic Western places that are present in this book. Such places are integral to setting the scene of the main character's journey and I wondered what it was like to read the book without also exploring what those places looked like, felt like, or even smelled like. The lakes and mountains of Switzerland couldn't be more opposite.
Next, I rejoined Ms. Meier's (the gym and health teacher, who is from California, but now lives with her family in what she called "Heidi-land" just outside of Zurich) health class. I spent the first few minutes of classes telling them about myself, the website that my sister updates for her, my brother and I, and answering questions about my training and how it applied to their health class. A main point was that as an endurance athlete I was training my heart, as well as the my other muscles, to be able to endure long skis, runs and bike rides.
This same day, an author of children's and young adult books, Jack Gantos, was also visiting the school. I joined my cousin Sam, whose 8th grade class was was given a presentation on how to write creatively. He had some great ideas- no matter your age - for conjuring up your imagination and to develop your enjoyment of writing. He emphasized communication, as he waved his small notebooks that he wrote his novels in, and the utmost importance of developing the ability to articulate and express your ideas, emotions, opinions and even your funny stories.
The day wound down, as I followed Sam around for a bit and also sat in on my Uncle's 7th grade history class. I find it relaxing to listen to teachers and enjoyed being in a class room.
In the same room, I ate lunch with some of his students during the next period. A bunch of 8th grade girls. Some shy, some talkative, some American, British, and from families of mixed heritages and languages, which represented the student and teacher community of the school. It was an ecclectic mix of German (in all its many forms and dialects from Switzerland) and English.
As quickly as school days begin, they also end. I was back to Langau am Albis where my family lives by earlier afternoon. For a day, it was fun to be back in school.
If you want to read more about the school and what other 6th graders are doing, check out their website - Zurich International School:
My cousing Sam and I on the way to the train station - he was headed to school and I was off to central Zurich to catch another train to Munich, Germany.

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