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6. Alexis Pokrovsky (LGB 1965)

Posted By Alumni Office, mardi, 19 août 2014
Alexis Pokrovsky1. How long did you spend at Ecolint?
Arrived Geneva Summer 1954, “en principe” to start 4th Grade – but evaluation of my academic achievements led Ecolint to make me repeat 3rd  Grade. I left at the end of Grade 8 in 1960.     

2. How did you come to attend Ecolint in the first place?
My parents were transferred from UN/New York to UN/Geneva – and didn't care to ask me if I wanted to attend Ecolint or not.

3. Which teacher had the biggest impact on you and how?
I feel obliged to mention two teachers – one I much admired, and one I “hated”, but had a very big – and positive - impact on the development of my character. The first, our history teacher, did actually awaken me to the marvels of reading history, and my awakening is still very much well under way. The second was our English Literature teacher: I am convinced - “avec le recul” - that our mutual dislike led me to become – in opposition to him - what he claimed I could never be – a writer.
4. What was your favourite spot on campus and why?
Two – first, swapping lunch box goodies - and then eating them - on the steps of the amphitheatre, followed by hunting/catching and playing with grass snakes behind the main GB building.
5. What was your favourite place in the wider region, and why?
Champéry, where I spent all of my Christmas and Easter vacations. But mainly Lullier and Colovrex, where I lived during most of my years at Ecolint. I managed to get adopted by the farming community, and spent many weekends and vacations driving tractors during “les récoltes”; joining in grape-pressing rituals; assisting in the birthing of farm animals (a calf I helped to birth was named Alexis); feeding hogs and chickens ...; scouring the countryside to collect chestnuts for feeding to  the farm animals (10 centimes per kilo to up my pocket money) …  and, more disturbing – but also quite “educational” - participating in such events as the putting-down of young unwanted or deformed farm animals, etc.

6. Describe your life today, where you live and what you do.
Married (since 1969), retired (since 2003), and living in La Bassée – a town (pop. 6,000) in the North of France, with frequent sojourns in our “pied-à-terre” in Paris. When not reading and/or walking – my two greatest passions -  I am writing memoirs for our family archives, particularly covering my travels (24 “déménagements”; some 85 countries) and my 40 year career in the performing arts, AIDS prevention and control, project and programme evaluation, and development, particularly in Africa and Asia, mainly thanks to some 32 years working in the UN system, particularly UNESCO.

7. What should be Ecolint's top priority as it approaches its 100th anniversary?
I can only concoct noble-sounding, stereotypical platitudes in response to this question.  I therefore abstain from replying, and will just wish that two magnificent characteristics of the Ecolint of my youth prevail still today.
I had NO inkling that racisms existed until I left Ecolint and returned to my previous home.  I hope and trust you are still able to provide your student body with such a protective and tolerance-building environment.
I am flabbergasted (“avec le recul”) when I recall that as a lad of 13/14 I formed and led a delegation of students to confront the DG with complaints about the excessive demands and abusive behaviour of a teacher. Following my presentation, the teacher's demands diminished, and his abusive behaviour disappeared. I imagine that 99% of school leaderships would not have received us; would not have believed us; would have protected the teacher's “authority” at all costs; and maybe would have punished us …  Are you still as open to listenening and responding to your charges in such a manner?  I hope and trust this is so …  

8. What "words of wisdom" would you pass on to today's Ecolint students?
You are an extremely privileged – and potentially influential - group of people. Please never forget it, and - “noblesse oblige” - assume personal and/or professional responsibility to  - at a minimum - showcase moderation, sense  and sensibility, compassion and tolerance in whatever you do in the future. And, even better, repay your certain debt to society by working – when and where you can – to building a better future for all of humanity.  

9. What has been the biggest impact of Ecolint on your life?
1. Ecolint typewriter classes. Knowing how to type made me a much appreciated  "teacher's pet" in US public high-school and through two years of University.
2. At Ecolint I was a struggling, average student, regularly scolded for poor Report Cards. However, when evaluated for integration into the US public high-school system, I was rated as needing to move not into Grade 9, but into Grade 11! Age considerations made me go into Grade 10 – and when I finished Grade 12, I was assessed as able to move straight into a University Sophomore year, and did so. And I sailed through the whole high-school to university graduation process without any difficulty whatsoever, thanks to the learning disciplines instilled in me by Ecolint. (Contacts with others of my classmates having pursued their studies in the US all revealed a similar experience.)  Thank you Ecolint!


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