Before taking a new role at an international school in Singapore, Mr Walsh was ISZL's Middle School Assistant Principal for three years. His wife was an Early Years assistant teacher and their son and daughter attended ISZL. Let's catch up with them and see how they are liking their new adventure.
How is your new home in Singapore?
It makes a significant contrast to Switzerland and even our home country, the USA. The first thing that made an immediate impact as we got off the plane was the heat and humidity, which can be intense during the middle of the day. Leave your jacket at home because Singapore is just 100km north of the equator. There are really no seasons other than a rainier time of year from November to March followed by a drier time from May to September. Before Singapore was inhabited, it was covered by dense tropical rainforest. The government has done a very nice job keeping some areas of old growth jungle intact. It’s fun to hike through these although you do need to watch out for poisonous snakes, wild boar and unfriendly troops of monkeys! The lighting storms and torrential downpours are very impressive and keep the island looking very green even with the fast paced urbanisation that is happening here.
Singapore is as modern a city as any in the western world. The health care, cuisine, shopping, and entertainment options are all top notch. English is the official language here even though most Singaporeans are of Chinese, Malay or Indian descent. As Schwyzerdeutsch is not quite German, Singlish (the local version of English) is not quite the English I learned in school. Singapore has been a lovely destination for us and we are enjoying ourselves thoroughly. It has also been a great jumping off point for us to explore other parts of Asia. We have found the Singaporean people to be very friendly and receptive to expats.
What do you miss about Switzerland?
There are certainly many things I miss about Switzerland and ISZL. The natural beauty of Switzerland is, of course, unmatched. I’ll never forget all the weekends we spent in Wengen both with students and my own family. What a place to ski, hike and relax!
However, for us the most difficult part of the move was leaving the good friends we made both at school and in Walchwil. We feel lucky to have met such wonderful people during our stay and have tried to keep in touch with our friends. Our years in Zug were truly a special time for our whole family.
What do you like about international schools?
My father was a guidance counsellor in a local public school near where I lived as a child in upstate New York. Every once in a while the school would get rid of stacks of old books to make room for newer ones. One year my father came home with a huge old atlas and set of World Book encyclopaedias. Finding new countries with my atlas and learning about them in these books is how I began to discover other cultures.
My love for learning about new and different places has stayed with me ever since. It’s amazing to me that I have been able to make a living as an educator while at the same time traveling the globe. I have been lucky to marry someone who shares the same curiosity about the world and has been willing to take this journey too.
International schools in general are special places where students are able to stretch themselves academically, but also come to appreciate the culture of the host country and their classmates. Excellent international schools like ISZL embrace the diversity that exists within their community and celebrate other cultures through their teaching and learning practices. I feel lucky that my children are growing up in a similar school in Singapore.
What are your sources of inspiration?
In each their own way, every teacher, administrator and parent has been an inspiration to me during my career. I feel very fortunate to work in a profession where I continue to learn every day. I have become a better school leader because of the lessons I learned from dedicated teachers and parents.
However, my biggest inspiration and the reason I happily go to school each day are the children I work with. As an assistant principal at ISZL and now principal in my new school, I continue to be filled with awe by students who come to our schools and develop their talents, overcome difficult personal circumstances to succeed, persevere despite finding the process of learning to be challenging, and work as intercultural ambassadors to make the world a better place.
What are your hobbies or sports you are involved with?
In Switzerland I was really fortunate to live in a place where it was easy to keep an active lifestyle. I still try to be active, albeit a little differently, in Singapore. I continue to run quite often, but you really do have to go at night or early in the morning to avoid the heat. There is actually an indoor ski hill in Singapore, but I cannot bring myself to go. The mountains in Switzerland have certainly spoiled me. Perhaps one of the easier ways to keep active here is to swim. It’s very easy to swim the whole year long and most dwellings have pools or easy access to them. It’s a great way to beat the heat!