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Building community Engagement International Schools in Lausanne Switzerland school community

One of the traditional barriers faced at international schools is that of community integration and student-community engagement. The schools are fantastic centres of learning for students of all cultures and nationalities, but typically, these learning environments have been very self-centric. Services used by the students and their parents are often available on the school site, and with lots of young people to mix with at the school too, this has often led to international schools becoming quite isolated. Students often only mix with staff, other students and their families, and parents tend to socialise with each other. While this is a supportive and safe environment, it also presents issues with the wider community. Are these schools doing enough to integrate with local people?

The answer is yes. The way international schools are run is changing, and new schools such as Lake Leman International School (LLIS) in Morges are actively encouraging students and parents to participate in community activities, engage with local residents and use the town's services and facilities. After all, the best way to learn the language and culture is to get involved on a daily basis – our students are strongly advised to take up activities in the community, to make new friends and to use the town rather than rely on a small number on on-campus services. The local town of Morges is a fast-growing, lively and welcoming community with a lot to offer local families.

This new approach to international school communities is already being seen in a number of European facilities, and it is expected to continue in other areas as educators see the benefits to be gained from community interaction. School facilities shouldn't be isolated pockets on the edge of towns and cities: they should be a thriving part of the culture itself. By bursting the bubble created by these schools and bringing students, parents and teachers into the local culture, better educational results can be achieved and students will feel more rooted in the place they are learning.

Author's bio

Marianne Salem

Marianne Salem is the Executive Director of the Lake Leman International School (LLIS) in Morges, Vaud. Founded in 2011, the school offers education to students aged between 3 and 11, with flexible teaching that matches each student's needs and a strong focus on community engagement for both pupils and their families.

In order to accommodate both international and local students, LLIS prioritises teaching of the French language. The co-education of international and local students in the same school has a very positive impact on the integration of international students into the local community and fosters the friendship between Swiss families and families from abroad.

Lake Leman International School, www.llis.ch