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Community Voices | Meet the Vidal Family
Vidal family portrait cape town
From left to right: Fabienne, Timéo, and Jérôme VIdal.

A globetrotting family at heart, the Vidal family is no stranger to moving to and living in foreign countries and continents. The avid travelers share their experiences living abroad, as well as the personal connection they have made with our caring community. 

Hear from those who experience SCIS first-hand, our Community Voices, as we celebrate their success stories, learning journeys, and the struggles in between.

 

Can you tell us a little about the Vidal family?

Fabienne: The Vidal family is made up of Jérôme the Dad, Fabienne, the Mom, Timéo, 10 years old boy, and Nome, the Cat. The humans of this family were all born in France, around Saint-Etienne (Timéo and Dad) and Clermont Ferrand (Mom). The feline of our gang was born in Botswana. Timéo greeted him when he was a kitten, lost in the parking lot of his former school, hidden in the motor of our 4x4. 

 

How did you end up living in Shanghai? 

Fabienne and Jérôme: (Before moving here, our family lived in Botswana. Botswana is a treasure of Nature, a rough diamond, preserved from mass tourism, the perfect place to discover wild natural life and grow up for young children. After three years there, we started to miss the cultural hub of the big cities. Theater, museums… So when Jérôme asked me "what about Shanghai?" I quickly replied: "Yeah!". 

Timéo: I was happy to discover another country with lots of toy shops, especially Lego stores!

Child riding bike in Botswana

 

Was Botswana your first international living abroad experience?

Fabienne and Jérôme: It seems that there is a kind of cycle which consists of our family changing country and continent every three and a half years since Timéo was born. When he was three and a half years old, we left France for Botswana. Three and a half years later, we arrived in Shanghai. Another three and a half years later, we are leaving again. We’ve always loved traveling. 

Fabienne: When Jérôme and I met, I was coming back from having spent almost two years in Istanbul. I remember Jérôme flying back the next day for a three-month mission in Athens, Georgia. Now, we go where Jérôme's work and our desires take us. It's always good to lose your bearings and start over on a blank page. It stirs your brain and forces you to move on.

Dad and son pose on the great wall of China

 

How was the transition to Shanghai for everyone?

Fabienne: The transition between Gaborone, Botswana, and Shanghai was not so easy. Timéo went from a large international PYP school to a French school where he was not greeted particularly well. He had to adapt to a change of school system and language of schooling without the appropriate support and no recognition of his bilingualism. Apart from school, in Shanghai, the international community is large and diverse. So there were many new things to discover and learn. We adapted very quickly despite the fact that life was so drastically different from what we had in South Africa and Botswana.

 

What were the key deciding factors when choosing a school for your children?

Fabienne and Jérôme: Feeling safe was the first factor to choosing a new school and in this one, we’ve definitely succeeded. Since Timéo enrolled in SCIS, we’ve seen our son changing his way of learning and becoming responsible for his knowledge because his mind is freed from his former fears. After that, it was important to find a caring and supportive environment. Because with appropriate support and scaffolding Timéo is able to access the curriculum. Lastly, we wanted a school that was respectful of children’s identity. It helps them to find out who they deeply are, pushing them to follow their own path instead of trying to fit in and conform.

 

Fabienne, being a regular at PAFA and school events, how important was it for you to be involved in the community?

Fabienne: Being on board with the fantastic PAFA team means so much to me. We have received so much from the community of this SCIS Pudong school, it seemed quite natural to me to get involved and to embark on this great adventure. I could have never imagined how much fun and flourishing working alongside parents from all over would be.

Now that is time for us to leave China, I realize how much I will miss them. I will try to keep this mindset in my future life and continue nourishing it. Being a part of this community was sincerely a huge pleasure… Silvia, Sana, Maria, Preeti, and Sheila I will miss you so much. Thank you for every moment we’ve shared.

Child stands by chinese door

 

How would you describe your time at SCIS?

Fabienne and Jérôme: First of all, we were worried that SCIS could not accommodate our son. The French system had wrongly presented him and our entire family as disturbing the class and the teacher. This situation on Christmas Eve made us think that we might not be able to find a school that would welcome Timéo with the appropriate support. However, we were convinced that he was able to do well in school. Timéo and SCIS have proven that he is indeed capable of this.

The SCIS Learning support team has deeply studied the various reports concerning Timéo. Before starting grade four, he did a half-day of testing to assess where he was. Then, he was admitted to Mr. Brown's Class, whom I thank from the bottom of my heart. He was able to find the words to restore Timéo's confidence. It took a while for us to be able to really trust a school again. We are now convinced that SCIS was THE school for our family. We just regret not having registered Timéo upon our arrival in Shanghai.

 

Looking back, what are some of your favorite moments at SCIS?

Fabienne and Jérôme: Students come from all over the world and each is encouraged to develop multiple languages while honoring and nurturing knowledge of their native tongue. We particularly enjoy this kind of mindset. We had several fabulous moments thanks to SCIS despite the fact that we could not live them within the school because of the pandemic.

Fabienne: We were admirably received by David Mazer who has always patiently edited my mistakes for PAFA ’s flyers. Dawn Brews and her son Dylan greeted us well too. The most memorable day is probably when Timéo came home one afternoon saying to me: "Mum, do you know what Mr. Brown told me? ... He told me he was happy to have me in his classroom as a student and proud to have met me. You realize, mum, the teacher who is happy to have me, in his classroom." Mr. Brown, thank you, those few words have probably changed a lot of things for Timéo.

Another highlight was when Léo also joined Mr. Brown’s class in 4B, a few days after Timéo’s arrival. Léo is a french classmate from the previous french school. Seeing the happiness on Timéo's face each day after that has been priceless.

The patience and commitment of Mr. Berezowski towards Timéo, the encouragement, and kindness of his son Tomas, say a lot about these people. We are so grateful.

I could also talk about the tearful eyes of Molly Myers, Emily Johnson, and Erin Ramsey when we talked about leaving China for good. The adorable words, cards from Ms. Katja and Ms. Maria. The emotion of Miss Gale when she announced us her departure.

 

What will you miss the most?

Fabienne and Jérôme: Orientation day, the happiness of being in School for a while with new parents and children. Welcome back brunch, PAFA meetings at Sanna’s place with her gorgeous homemade tart and chocolate-dried mangoes...To tell you the truth, I don’t know what we will miss the most.

Fabienne: What I find absolutely fantastic about SCIS Pudong is that children's voice is heard. They have their word to say. They are involved in school life. The school allows them to take ownership and with kind guidance they are developing so many skills and talents for the future. The parents, as well, have the opportunity to voice their thoughts and get their questions answered. In short, this great listening quality and effective communication make life so much easier and pleasant. My mind is at ease when Timéo is at SCIS.

 

What is next for you?

Fabienne and Jérôme: I hope we will be able to find this kind of mindset in our future country… Our next step will be Canada - Prince Edward’s Island. We leave, as always, happy to meet new adventures. Timéo is happy to move to Canada because he wants to live again in a house. He looks forward to seeing snow and making a lot of snowmen. He feels sad to leave his friends and teachers but they are all welcome to visit us in Canada. However, we will go with a heavy heart to leave friends, teachers, and this school which will keep a very important and sweet place in our memories.

Thank you very much to the entire learning support team as well as the extraordinary teachers and substitute teachers. A special thanks to David Mazer, Mr. Berezowski, Ms. Maria, Mr. Brown, Ms. Johnson, Ms. Briton, Mrs. Mabel, Mrs. Rana, Mrs. Winnie, Ms. Katja, Dr. Myers, Ms. Knight, Ms. Gale, Dawn Brews, Ms. Ramsey… And all the classmates, especially Tomas and Graco who, through their care and support, made Timéo’s first days so good. 

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