In recent weeks, as part of our Cultural Learning Experiences (CLEs - formerly known as Cultural Long Expeditions) Programme and our Experience Programme, the whole school embarked on trips to see the sights of Europe and beyond. It was a relief after several years of the pandemic to be able to offer a fuller range of adventures once again.
Aiglon’s CLEs Programme is an enduring school tradition, and the perfect opportunity for students to engage with concepts covered in class for real, and to connect the dots. Each autumn as part of our core curriculum students get to discover more of Switzerland and how Switzerland relates to Europe, where possible by bus or train for environmental reasons.
Our youngest students were transported to Bern. On their journey there, they savoured local delicacies at Swiss cheese and chocolate museums and toured the Chateau de Gruyères. They then created their own artworks at the Paul Klee Museum, before going on to spot some bears!
Year 7 went to the renowned Swiss butterfly exhibit Papiliorama in Neuchâtel, where they encountered wildlife like toucans, bats and sloths; made sundials at the International Clock Museum; and hiked a kilometre underground in the Swiss asphalt mine.
A highlight for Year 8 in Zurich was their sunset lake cruise, and they really awakened their taste buds with a meal in the dark served by blind staff at the surprising Blindekuh restaurant. In Lugano, Year 9 students appreciated the stunning lake views from the surrounding hilltops and the regional cuisine.
Meanwhile, our older students went a little further afield. For example, in Lyon students basked in the grandeur of its Roman amphitheatre in the Autumn sun. Turin was the focus for Year 10, along with its Mauto Museum all about cars and the Juventus Museum dedicated to sport and especially football.
At the Pietro Micca History Museum in Turin, students were lucky to have Aiglon alumnus Gianguido Castagno (Les Eveques, 1952) as their guide. He attended Aiglon when our founder, John Corlette, was still at the helm, and felt touched to reconnect with the school this way as he tried to convey the emotional weight of local Italian history rather than simply the facts. Following their meeting, Gianguido aptly expressed that “this type of experience will help them to spread their wings for their flight into life.”
Whereas, Year 11 were awed by a light show outside St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and equally relished making pizza. Another group of Year 11 students enjoyed the sights of Milan: the striking Gothic Duomo, the imposing Sforzesco castle, the World of Leonardo da Vinci - his famous Last Supper masterpiece and his numerous inventions - and the Scala Ansaldo workshop revealing the behind-the-scenes of the theatre and show preparation.
Students from Year 12 headed for cooking school in Florence and the wonders of Michelangelo’s statuesque David and Botticelli’s iconic The Birth of Venus. Other Year 12’s admired the gorgeous canals of Venice, the multicoloured buildings of Burano, the delicate glass crafts of Murano, as well as the countless artefacts preserved there. Students were invited to contemplate more than just what makes art great, and determine how we create knowledge via art, and how this knowledge changes us and provides us with a diverse range of insights on humanity. On their return the students will present their findings as part of their Theory of Knowledge IB Diploma course.
Year 13 visited the Hungarian baths, a synagogue and the gilded halls of the Parliament in Budapest. Students from that year also became knowledgeable about Greek culture, olive oil and celebration in Athens. They even created pottery and smashed some plates!
In parallel, as part of our Experience Programme, students can develop culturally and give back through service, by participating in our Morocco Culture and Adventure Experience, Red Sea Adventure and Ecology Experience, and Peru and Cambodia Cultural and Ecology Experiences.
These longer experiences, taking place on contrasting continents, align with our school’s guiding principles, challenging the students in mind, body and spirit as they absorb new surroundings and attempt to contribute towards positive change. Click here to learn more about the structure of Aiglon’s trip programmes.
In the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, expedition students ascended Mount Toubkal – North Africa’s highest mountain. Additionally, they visited a fair trade Argan Oil farm and the souks of vibrant Marrakech.
In Egypt students learnt to dive in the Red Sea, transitioning from first dives in the pool to exploring the colourful reefs further out, and by chance spotted beautiful bioluminescent plankton while diving at night.
In South America, after the spectacular historical heights of Machu Picchu, students ventured to the depths of a remote eco-reserve in the Peruvian Amazon to help care for nature including birds of every colour under the sun.
Finally, on the Asian continent, in Cambodia, our students saw Phnom Penh, its Prison S-21 as well as battle fields, and met brave survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s genocide. Later, they travelled to Camp Beng Mealea where they would marvel at ancient temples and receive a water blessing for good luck and protection. They also made clay and rainwater collection pots, taught English and cleared land for animal shelters.
During this time, at the students’ initiative, they collected waste strewn on the land. This action in turn inspired the camp manager to pursue this activity with the valuable help of local children, who were awarded an Aiglon t-shirt for their participation and, with continued efforts, will see a lasting impact on their community.
All students consequently came home holding new perspectives of our world and its possibilities.