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23. Theodore Gill (LGB 1969)

Posted By Alumni Office, jeudi, 18 septembre 2014
Theo Gill1. How long did you spend at Ecolint?
I began 10th grade (4th form) in September 1966 and was graduated at the end of 11th grade (5th form) in June 1968 – if my family had not returned to the USA, I would have been a member of the class of 1969. As it was, I entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison one year early.

2. How did you come to attend Ecolint in the first place?
My father was employed as director of a two-year educational research project by the World Council of Churches.

3. Which teacher had the biggest impact on you and how?
Robert J. Leach made history and politics come alive, and I was influenced by two programmes he helped initiate while at Ecolint: the Student United Nations (later the Students' League of Nations) and the International Baccalaureate (then in its infancy).

4. What was your favourite spot on campus and why?
The central courtyard of LGB, facing the original Alexandre*, was evocative of the history and culture of Europe, Geneva, and the school. Friends would gather, and conversation flourished.

5. What was your favourite place in the wider region, and why?
Especially when visitors came from abroad, I loved accompanying them to the Château de Chillon. Part of the experience was the trip itself, all the way around the lake, but I especially enjoyed the dramatic spectacle of that medieval fortification at the foot of the mountains. With its contents, it is a significant monument to the region’s culture and craft, art and life.

6. Describe your life today, where you live and what you do.
Since 2002 I have been back in Geneva with my wife, working at the World Council of Churches where my father served while I was a student at Ecolint. I edit books and journals there, and as a minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) I am actively involved in the Geneva and Lausanne congregations of the Church of Scotland. I am also a member of the Ecolint alumni committee.

7. What should be Ecolint's top priority as it approaches its 100th anniversary?
Ecolint has made a mark in the world by nurturing a spirit of internationalism and tolerance in its students. It is also known for its willingness to engage in educational innovation. But the “top priority” must always be the students – every development, every technique should be student-centred from first to last.

8. What "words of wisdom" would you pass on to today's Ecolint students?
Don’t pay too much attention to “words of wisdom” from your elders – but pay a modicum of attention, in case one of us has stumbled across a useful (or merely interesting) truth or two along the way.

9. What has been the biggest impact of your Ecolint education on your life?
Because I was at Ecolint for two transformational years, I possess a more realistic understanding of the world and its people than if I had not attended Ecolint. And because Ecolint remained true to its principles from its founding to my arrival, I was encouraged to hold that realism in balance with a more idealistic understanding of the world and its people. I have continuously tried to appreciate issues and arguments from the perspectives of people located beyond my immediate community. I have tempered my involvement in national politics with a concern for inhabitants of other nations. And ever since reading The Canterbury Tales in fourth-form English with Madame Poirel, I have harboured a desire to emulate the clerke of Oxenforde (where I later earned a graduate degree), of whom Chaucer wrote: “…And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.”


* A venerable walnut tree named Alexandre once stood at the heart of La Grande Boissière. Thanks to a bequest from the late LGB alumnus Henry Baum (1934-36), a direct arboreal descendant – to be named Alexandre the Third – is scheduled to appear in the near future on the former site of its ancestor. The previous ‘Alexandre’ also lent its name to Ecolint’s mid-century student periodical.


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