Eagles in the Spotlight

Sarah C., Zug Anglo-American School, 1975-1978

Sarah C. moved to Switzerland in 1975. She attended Zug Anglo-American School (ZAAS), which would later become ISZL. Sarah completed an MA in Old and Middle English Language and Literature at the University of St Andrews, as well as an MA in Archive Administration at the University of Liverpool. In 1993, she moved to the University of Bristol to run its theatre archive. Now married to Innes Cuthill, a Professor of Biology at the University, she spends her time raising two daughters and volunteering in the local community. 

Looking back, what school memories stand out in your mind the most?

Morning recess in the school playground around the corner, which we would share at times with the military conducting doing shooting practice (which added a certain frisson to our games!) and lunchtime down by the lakeside on the grass, past the deer enclosure. A friend and I would collect snowberries – they seemed wonderfully exotic. We also played baseball down there, and it was where we had our Easter hunt of chocolate rabbits. I remember the strenuous activity: walking up the Grosse Mythen in sleet, camping on the Wildspitz, swimming at the Lättich, racing up the Zugerberg and winning the 4x100m relay in 7th Grade, and skating at Herti. I remember skating in wind so strong that we held up our coats like sails and wafted effortlessly across the rink.

In 5th Grade we made a fantastic prehistoric landscape project with papier mâché dinosaurs. I still have the papier mâché platypus and echidna. We also produced the occasional magazine, xeroxed in that strange and period shade of purple, for which we wrote poems and stories and drew pictures.

Musical productions and plays – it was amazing what was achieved with such a small school and limited facilities. I remember The Mikado, Bugsy Malone and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. There was also a version of Oliver Twist. I remember singing with Mrs. Allenspach in the upstairs room of a nearby school, the sun shining in on us as we sang The Miller of the Dee and Oh Rare Turpin Hero.

What are the most important things you learned at ZAAS?

Definitely to continue my love of reading and creative writing, combined with attention to detail and high standards of language and grammar. Learning German in a German-speaking country was a marvelous opportunity which I continue to value. Mr. Bevan encouraged us to challenge ourselves with new experiences and to push ourselves. It has made me find courage when I have needed it.

I think we worked hard, but enjoyed it. As a parent with children similar to the age I was when at ZAAS, I appreciate so much the high quality of teaching, the small classes and a genuine sense of dedication and affection. At the end of 7th grade we passed around notebooks to write messages to one another, and the few lines from the teachers, particularly Mr. and Mrs. Bevan, still matter to me.

Are you still in touch with school friends? Were there teachers, staff, or students who inspired you?

Claire P. started ZAAS in September 1975. We were best friends and spent our ZAAS years swimming in Baar, lying in our bedrooms reading together and adventuring in the garden and fields. She is still like a sister to me and our children have continued the friendship to a third generation. I would love to hear news of Karla S., Donald B. and Sarah H. from my class. My long-lasting friendship with Claire is an inspiration in a way. The Bevans kept on raising the bar and expecting us to do our best, and more, which has become a benchmark by which I rate other teachers.

Do you think that being a part of an international school is a transforming experience?

At the time it was all we knew so it was natural, normal. Subsequently I realise that the experience of living abroad and attending international schools must have broadened my horizons, encouraged me to be less judgemental, but has also left a slightly dislocated sensation with regard to Britain – having left once, might I leave again? Having children of my own now, and experiencing their educational system, I can only be grateful that I had the opportunity to attend such small and exacting schools which gave me a breadth of learning and an astonishing line-up of passionate teachers.

How has Switzerland and Zug changed in the past three decades?
Returning as a tourist, there are still many of the same things to enjoy – the Altstadt, the Lido, Platzmuehle, the lake. I get a warmth from the clock chimes at Guthirt heard across the fields to Inwil and through my bedroom window at night. Of course Switzerland has changed – everywhere will have changed in 30 years. It is more commercial and even more international. Zug has changed because it is no longer the family home, and because I have changed by growing up. It is full of bittersweet memories and scars of the family. But I will keep coming back.

Special thanks to Alexandra D. '07, The Riverside School, for conducting this interview with ISZL alumna Sarah C.


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