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St. George’s 2018 Alumni Graduate

It’s been a pleasure interviewing Vevey born Alumnus Alexandre Auberger, who graduated in 2018  from St. George's and is now aged 20.  He found the time to talk from Tokyo, Japan where he is studying International Relations and is in his 3rd year at Tokyo International University.

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St. George graduate 2018

Alexandre’s ambition to study in Tokyo began in his early teenage years when he became fascinated by the sounds and language of Japanese pop music.  This led him to take the plunge to learn Japanese alongside his studying at St. Georges.  He reflects on this now as a great life lesson;  an early ambition that became an achievement and proving that anything is possible if the effort and dedication is put in. 

As a younger student, Alexandre was often apprehensive about leaving home, even for school ski trips.  Originally his plan was to stay in his native Switzerland for University studies, but both his parents and friends encouraged him to follow his dream.  Aged 17 he left to live and study in Japan and to follow his intuition which has led to him being in a wonderful City.  It is interesting, he says being a European in Japan; he finds the Japanese way of life and culture very different, yet similar in some respects to Switzerland, in terms of its beauty and people’s respect for each other.

His eyes have been opened to vibrant new ways of doing and being, which has furthered his appreciation of the international environment. Often he has found himself as the only non-Japanese person in the room.  That has made him realise more than ever before that cultural differences are quickly overshadowed by what we fundamentally share as humans: humour and the sharing of personal experiences, each being gateways towards forming connections between individuals who come from completely different backgrounds.

Alexandre spent his first 9 years in Monaco and began learning English aged 5.  At 9 he came to St. George’s to study and recalls enjoying Mrs O’Connor’s English classes immensely.  He says her kindness and dedication to the subject made it interesting, exhilarating and fun to learn.

His best memories include the small things – the nostalgia, the atmosphere and his favourite event was the annual Halloween party, which included being able to dress-up and wear quirky outfits as well as the chance to enjoy the spooky corridor.

He recalls his time in Years 12 & 13 in particular, when he felt his friendships were more like a family and all the students were very close to each other.  It was an environment where everyone got along well, worked and played hard and enjoyed good camaraderie.

A self-confessed non-sportsman, Alexandre recalls fond memories of ski trips to Les Mosses and he enjoyed a myriad of the sports offered by the school.  He was in Vesta House and in 2017 he competed for the first time in the inter-house dance competition and was recognised for a routine that he choreographed and performed which included Japanese techno-pop songs involving a unique style of dance using angles with arms and hands that create a coordinated robotic look.  The group won first place.  Alexandre felt really touched to hear that his friends appreciated the performance and he was very grateful that his dance team allowed him to create his own segment of the show. lt was the first time he was recognised for his creativity which still fills him with excitement when he thinks back to it.

Being taught how to believe in oneself is a life skill Alexandre embraces from his time at St. George’s.  Many of the opportunities as a member of Vesta, such as team leadership, talking in front of a student body, involvement in Cartons de Coeur, although perhaps not apparent at the time, he now appreciates.  He adds that with the large diversity of students, it’s not important where you come from, it’s more about you as a person.  He is of the firm belief that our school gives the chance for this to flourish for each individual student.  This is something that he has experienced in Japan, especially coming from Europe.

Upon graduating from St. George's Alexandre was awarded the ECIS Award for International Understanding 2018 (Educational Collaborative for International Schools ).

Alexandre thinks that we should never stop learning – one very important lesson being that there are so many doors to open on the other side – opportunities to upgrade your skills and follow one’s dreams.  Personally, I enjoyed Alexandre’s quote  “Life is always greater than any situation”

Alexandre had fears of the unknown and initially was unsure what to expect from life in Tokyo, some 10,000km away from Switzerland.  He had never been away from his parents before, but he did his best not to let his fears get the better of him. 

In his leisure time, he enjoys dancing and singing and has been successful making a début as a foreign artist on the stage and is employed by a talent agency.  He was delighted to pass his initial audition, especially as he had limited experience, and recalls being nervous and anxious.  Many of his friends are dancers, models and stylists and it was they who encouraged him.  He performed in front of a panel of three judges – comparable to the X-Factor.  Those auditioning were called at random and were able to watch each other’s performances.  After an hour long wait, Alexandre's audition started, with him singing in Japanese.  From the moment he began, he felt very confident, and now reflects that this destiny and success were meant to be.  Today he remains very grateful to continue to have this opportunity.

Academically, Alexandre is loving his studies, but at this stage, is unsure where his career path will take him.  The useful tools that he has acquired can be used in many different domains and he is looking forward to seeing what his future holds. He knows that he could never leave Japan forever, such is his love for the country that he currently calls home.  Like Switzerland, it will always have a close place in his heart.  He would like to spend time in the future gaining work experience living in an English-speaking country, Australia being a possibility.

This year, amidst the pandemic, Alexandre was able to return to Switzerland for 6 months, which enabled him to reunite with some St. George’s friends including Demi-Dee, Bela, Ricardo, Liam and Chiara. Back now in Tokyo, he continues to study online.

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Thank you so much Alexandre – it was a pleasure to “meet you online” and chat with you.  I could have spent all day listening to you!