November 20, 2020 – Zagreb is full of foreigners these days and not all are involved in business or government, but also in education. Maryline Boussenard has recently arrived from France in her new role as Principal of the French International School of Zagreb. Maryline shares her thoughts on Croatia and what makes French education an asset here.
What do you like most working in an international school? What do students and parents like?
An international environment always contributes to personal enrichment. Mixing cultures, languages, and experiences abroad develops open-mindedness. For students, this will provide them an additional opportunity to integrate into higher education all over the world and to adapt to international professional settings. The Eurocampus is part of the AEFE network which brings together more than 500 countries on all continents. Students retain a sense of belonging to the same educational path and are most of the time enrolled in alumni associations.
As for the parents of our students, they value the French education system, recognize the quality of our teachers and teaching and believe their children will be well-prepared for the future by attending our school.
(French Ambassador to Croatia Gaël Veyssière and Maryline Boussenard)
Of all countries in which you could work, why did Croatia interest you? What is the image of Croatia in France?
I immediately accepted the job offered in Croatia on the one hand because AEFE, the Agency for French Education Abroad, represents a network that offers both a guarantee of quality of education and a possibility of orientation towards all universities in the world. On the other hand, joining a Eurocampus was also an element in favor of my choice: I practice German and I have long lived on the German border. The French International School of Zagreb participates in the development of Franco-German friendship relations and the bicultural characteristic of our establishment is an additional asset for the education of our students.
I came to know Croatia as a tourist, but it is by working and living abroad that you really know and understand a people and their history. I also have some Polish origins so I am familiar with Slavic culture.
In France, Croatia has become a country that has experienced more and more success as a tourist destination. French people appreciate its unspoiled nature, its rich and diverse landscapes, a good quality of life and the warm welcome and generosity of its people.
What is unique about French education?
First of all, the French education system is based on republican values stemming from its history: freedom, equality, secularism and fraternity. These values are enshrined in the Education Code and are national. Teachings and educational activities in the fields of citizenship and health are also carriers of these values. Schools therefore have a dual role: transmitting knowledge and training enlightened, free and responsible future citizens.
Who are your students?
Our student body is made up of a very diverse set of children from approximately 25 countries. In fact, only about a third are native speakers of French. A growing number of Croatian children are part of our school community.
What are your impressions of Zagreb so far?
I was immediately won over by Zagreb: a capital on a human scale, green and lively. Social diversity is present everywhere and there is a feeling of security (and it is also a reality). Ideally located geographically (mountain and sea at reasonable distances), it represents in my eyes a perfect balance between culture and nature and I feel home here.
(First day of school year 2020 at the French International School (Maryline Boussenard, Ambassador Veyssière, Guillaume Colin and children of the 2nd Grade Class).)
What are your impressions of Croatian food and wine?
Croats can be proud of their products, of their cuisine, and they are right; their terroir offers an incredible diversity of products from the land and the sea. There are some very good wines and I am fully satisfied to be able to consume local products.
What are some of your personal and professional aspirations while in Croatia?
Professionally, my dearest wish is to see the Eurocampus evolve and that the French School becomes an even more attractive option for families in Zagreb. The quality of the teaching provided by competent and motivated teams, the excellent school climate, the dynamics of the partnership with the German school and the links with the French Embassy make them undeniable assets for our school and it is with pleasure and conviction that I carry out my missions daily.
Personally, expatriation offers a huge chance to get to know a people, a history, and a language in a deeper way than through tourist travel alone. I was fortunate enough to have an education that was open-minded and without prejudice.
I therefore completely share the spirit of openness and the ability to adapt to other cultures that contributes to the excellence of the schools in the AEFE network.
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