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St. George's Alumna 1980

We welcome Featured Alumna this month BATYA BIEGUN-YAHAV who studied at St. George’s from 1980-1982.

st georges alumni 1980

Born in France, but her formative years were spent in Israel where she lives now.  Immediately after leaving school she joined the Israeli Army for the mandatory military servicel.  Following that, she attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn New York where she achieved a Bachelor of Fine Art and later did a Masters in Art Therapy at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and later studied Jungian Psychotherapy &Addiction treatment.

Mother to two adult children, she continues to work as an Art Therapist, Psychotherapist and Addictions therapist in a psychiatric hospital in Israel. Batya’s favourite teachers were Mrs Ross White and Mlle Bacque who taught her so much.  English Literature and Art were her favourite subjects and she recalls receiving a special dictionary as a prize.  She has fond memories of spending time painting in the art room, especially the view from the window with the luscious trees and being surrounded by such beauty.
Mrs Ross White was a wonderful and amazing mentor. It is thanks to her that Batya rekindled her love of painting again. Despite having attended an Arts high school previously, she was very disheartened with the dull still lives the students had to draw and the obsession with conceptual art. Mrs Ross White reignited and developed Batya’s love and knowledge of Art History. Her passion created a deep and lasting influence on what would become a life-long career for her young student.
Sadly, Batya’s father died when she was just 15, six months before she joined St. George’s and it was a difficult time in her life.  At school, she had three close friends from Iran, Switzerland and America and has recently reconnected with some other school friends via social media
Batya arrived in Switzerland from Israel and St. George’s was her first experience of boarding.  Initially she recalls being homesick for her friends who she’d left behind in her home country.  Weekends were spent either visiting her grandparents who lived nearby, or going to Montreux and Vevey as well as some studying.  She travelled within Switzerland during holidays, mostly in the French speaking part, but in her 20s she was fortunate to also visit the German and Italian speaking parts.

Batya was less inclined toward sports, but enjoyed walking.  Her love was creative arts, her excellent teacher and she recalls being fortunate to have use of the art studio in the evenings to continue her passion for painting. The principal at the time was Rev Wright and her French teacher, Mlle Bacque helped her French progress very well.  Batya was the only student from Israel at the time and remembers other students coming from Britain, Spain, Turkey, Iraq, Japan and USA. 

Batya says “The education I received at school always enriched and inspired me. I think my path was rather organic. I had been doing art from a young age and before St. George’s was in an arts high school and then continued with art in St. George’s.  After my time in the Israeli Army, it was the natural thing to apply to universities for a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Through maturing and life events, my path eventually led me to become a therapist.”

Asked about life challenges, failures and successes, Batya replied “I prefer to look at things as lessons rather than failures. I am always learning in the field of human relationships and have learnt to make wiser choices and to take better care of myself. I try to do my best with what is in front of me. I very much believe in persevering whenever possible and that there is always hope, even contrary to statistics.” “It is important to acknowledge success and to have a heart of gratitude, never taking anything for granted. I really believe that success is not giving up and overcoming, and ultimately making a positive difference in someone else’s life makes for meaningful success”.

Batya’s life goals involves her being on a journey towards becoming a clinical psychologist.  She hopes to continue working in the psychiatric hospital and in private practice, and to do her best in relationships with others. Thinking about the future, she feels that people will continue to need psychotherapy. More and more, she believes that the kind of psychotherapy will be chosen to suit patients dependent on the issues with which they are grappling, and may be more time limited. Sometimes the setting might veer more towards technological means (eg as is currently with Covid19) but mostly face to face consultations are likely to continue during normal times in the future.

Offering advice to today’s students, Batya suggests studying what you are passionate about and not to give up. She received an excellent education from St. George’s and was well prepared ahead of attending University.  The best examples of teaching, in her opinion, were Art, English literature and French. Batya has returned twice for short trips to visit Switzerland, she very much hopes to make a return trip to St. George’s in the future.