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87. Daniel A. Reelfs (LGB 1942)

Posted By Alumni Office, lundi 15 décembre 2014

Daniel Reelfs1. How long did you spend at Ecolint?
A total of six years. Four years to start with: 1928 to 1932 at Primary school. And then two more years to finish: 1940 to 1942 for the Matu fédérale

2. How did you come to attend Ecolint in the first place?
My Dutch father, working for an international organization, and mother of Finnish nationality thought Ecolint would be the ideal place for my sister and I to start our  school years.

3. Which teacher had the biggest impact on you and how?
It would be unfair to name one teacher in particular: each had his own impact on me in one way or another. Though my memory concerning period one is no longer working 100%, here are some remembrances. I entered Ecolint’s Primary school when it was still in downtown Geneva at rue Senebier. We then moved to La Grande Boissière. Teachers I remember were:
- Miss Hartog was like a Mother to us children of so many different origins. She will never be forgotten. I can't alas name any comrade present at that time.
- Nancy Travelletti taught us the rudiments of gardening and how to take care of pets. I remember well a rabbit I liked very much. Each child had also his own little piece of ground to experience the plant cycle, starting with sowing a seed. After her long professional career at Ecolint (1929 to 1972) as directrice of the girls’ Internat and then a teacher she retired and died at the age of 91.
- Madame Maurette was for a long time head of the school. She was its soul in a way, a driving force to all concerned with the school. Her Assemblies were always instructive and related to events of the day.
- Mr Bader lived in the building you met when arriving at the entry of the school premises. He was the first person to go to for information. A practical kind man, easy to talk to, who also taught carpentry.

During my Matu period which was also the beginning of the second world war, the teachers I remember well and liked, each one for his particular qualities and temperament, were:
- M. Roquette who cumulated the task of School Director with that of acquainting us with Swiss geography. At the end of the year we had a really good idea of the very complex nature of the country we were to live in during our school years. I remember  that at the end of the year, the main and less important rivers of Switzerland and their affluents had no longer any secrets for us.
- M. Meyhoffer's task was to acquaint us with Swiss history, a subject which helped much later in my life to better understand the complex nature of the country I was living in.
- Mr Charles Baudouin, our french teacher, was a man of many talents: poet, psychoanalyst, writer. As students, occupied with our matu program, we were alas not really conscious at the time of the privilege we had to be taught by such learned and dedicated personalities.
- Miss Hersch initiated us to Latin. It was my first go at this language and Miss Hersch did her best to help me attain sufficient knowledge of the language to enable me to pass the Matu.
- M. Drummond Thomson dealt with English and theatre.
- Last but not least : Mr Dumur our math teacher, kind and severe.                
Our class was small being four pupils of various origins : Galyani Mahidol of Thailand: Juliette Valentin who was Swiss-French; Bérengère Henchoz who was Swiss and myself, Dutch. Our objective: obtain the Matu Fédérale….which we all did. A group of pupils was studying during the same period in another classroom for the French baccalaureate. Among the pupils I remember well were Jean-Paul  Darmsteter,Tania Olian, Vadim Miselj, Guy Ito, Daisy and Georges Stencek  and Uli Zinnow.

4. What was your favourite spot on campus and why?
The path bordering the sports field, which at that time was just plain grass and nothing else. Walking along it allowed you meet a variety of trees, mysterious caverns in bushes where one could hide etc. The vegetation changed its appearance with the seasons, giving you new visual sensations.

5. What was your favourite place in the wider region, and why?

My favorite place in the wider region consisted in going up to Saint-Cergue and then walking up to La Dôle. From there you had a gorgeous view of lake Geneva and the French Alps alas unreachable during that war period.

6. Describe your life today, where you live and what you do.
My life today is that of a retired man in the nineties with a charming wife keen on gardening and seeing to my welfare in every respect, doing for me more than I shall ever be able to do for her. Ah yes: I am also trying to get rid of all material objects accumulated during my lifetime, become useless but kept often just out of sentimentality.

7. What should be Ecolint's top priority as it approaches its 100th anniversary?
“One” of Ecolint’s top priorities could be to devote a small part of the annual fees of every student to help run a school in some deserving less fortunate country. Practically every year a request is sent to us alumni to help Ecolint enlarge the sports grounds - build a new annex - have paving stones with their name engraved on them etc. One could imagine with the above plan teachers of Ecolint going in turn to that school and participating for a few days/weeks in its welfare.

8. What "words of wisdom" would you pass on to today's Ecolint students?

Remember that when you leave this world for good, the greatest wealth you can take with you is not your fortune or material goods (see question 6) but how positive you can be in your relations with other human beings.

9. What has been the biggest impact of your Ecolint education on your life?
I try to see in every person I meet, whatever his/her geographic origin, colour, language etc.,  a soul which incarnated on this earth to continue to learn how to deal with the problems of life.

 


 

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