The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
TASIS Lifer Reflects on 13 Amazing Years

Filippo Cipolini ’19 (Switzerland/Italy) will continue his studies at Boston University after an outstanding 13 years at TASIS that culminated with a Bilingual IB Diploma (38 points) and an inspiring speech at the 2019 Senior Banquet.

Filippo is considering a career in the tourism and hospitality sector and once believed that Switzerland’s world-famous Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) was the only school for him. But as TASIS opened his mind to new opportunities, he decided to explore additional options in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Having the flexibility to choose an area of concentration later on is a big reason why he ultimately chose Boston University over King’s College London, a school he strongly considered. “The freedom to explore courses and not declare a major until the middle of my second year was a huge factor,” he said. “When I visited US colleges the summer before my senior year, I was fascinated by the freedom and world of opportunities they offered, and I almost instantly realized that because of my curiosity to explore many different areas, the US would be better suited to my personal academic needs and desires.” 

Filippo feels very well-prepared for both the academic and social sides of university life. He credited two classes in particular—Honors World Literature with Dr. Chris Love and IB Art History with Mark Aeschliman—for training his mind to think creatively and to seek cross-cultural connections and connections between fields. “They challenged me to think and taught me to analyze in a rigorous and mature manner,” he said. (Read Filippo’s in-depth remarks on these two classes below.)

From a social perspective, few students are as well-equipped to speak of the TASIS advantage as Filippo, who began attending the School in Kindergarten. He believes that the global understanding students develop while at TASIS gives them a competitive advantage over most of their peers. “The internationalism at TASIS allows us to automatically be more self-aware and conscious of ourselves and others,” he said. “It also allows us to be freed from stereotypical misunderstandings or preconceptions of a certain culture, which removes any limits we may have in interpretation, maybe even helping us understand different concepts in terms of different cultures in ways other students may not be able to yet. The independence we are given helps us mature and develop both as students and as individuals.”

Filippo described all his extracurricular activities as meaningful in the sense that they all provided him with opportunities to work on different aspects of his character. Serving as a Proctor (and eventually a Head Proctor) enabled him to connect with the boarding community in a way that would have otherwise been impossible for a day student. “It helped me understand the challenges (and strengths) of boarding life and allowed me to put myself at the service of other students and find ways to provide meaningful help and support to boarders,” he said. “It was a fantastic leadership opportunity, as it taught me a lot about the listening skills a leader must have and the responsibility of being an advocate for a group of people that has chosen you to be its representative. In the same way, being Vice President of the Student Council taught me a lot about dealing with large groups of people and the importance of coordinating with various groups in order to successfully complete tasks.” 

Filippo’s service trip to Cambodia

The Opsahl Global Service Program also had a profound impact on Filippo. He is grateful that his service trip to Cambodia provided him a chance to see a breathtakingly beautiful country with incredible people while also experiencing first-hand the struggles of a country that is starting to put itself back on its feet after being torn apart by violence just a few decades ago. “The opportunity to speak with boys and girls of our same age was incredible,” he said. “The appreciation I had of my luck in being a student at TASIS—with all the opportunities it brings and the doors it opens—was perhaps the biggest lesson I learned. I was not new to the struggles of poverty or the challenges of young boys and girls having to provide for their families while also trying to complete their education, but experiencing it for 10 days alongside these students allowed me to witness the strength and motivation they have to persevere and complete their education, helping me better understand how valuable and empowering education can be.”

“The opportunities for personal and intellectual growth that TASIS has given me are beyond what I could have ever imagined a school could offer.”

Filippo is proud of what he accomplished at TASIS and said he leaves the School without any regrets. “I leave TASIS after 13 years that have completely transformed me,” he said. “I would never have even dreamt of having access to the opportunities TASIS has given me as well as the unbelievable luck of being surrounded by students from all around the world. The opportunities for personal and intellectual growth that TASIS has given me are beyond what I could have ever imagined a school could offer.” 

The most inspiring thing about TASIS, said Filippo, is its community. “There is a desire to strive for greatness that is intrinsic to a TASIS education,” he said. “This inspires every student to really find himself or herself and decide what type of person he or she wants to be. There is no preconception of what a graduating student must be, and there is no expected result. TASIS allows students to pursue their own interests, whether they’re related to art, science, sports, literature, theater, or even math. Students discover their own passions, preferences, beliefs, and opinions: it is not only acceptable to do so, it is encouraged. It is inspiring to see all the teachers dedicated to our growth and all the students really striving to gain all they can from the TASIS experience.” 

What will Filippo miss most about the School that has defined his entire childhood? “I will miss everything about TASIS,” he said. “The students, the campus, the teachers, the people who make TASIS the special place that it is; the atmosphere of harmony that surrounds the campus and makes everyone feel included and part of a big family; the freedom that TASIS has in allowing everyone to be themselves and discover themselves; the amount of students from different nationalities in one single place—I’ll miss it all.”

The 2016 Honors World Literature trip to Florence with Dr. Love

Filippo’s Academic Mentors at TASIS

On IB Art History with Mr. Aeschliman:
I really loved every single moment of the course. I have always been fascinated by art, but with Mr. Aeschliman a whole new outlook and appreciation of art were given to me. His passion for art history is contagious, to say the least! It is my hope that all my professors in college are even half as passionate and engaging as him, as that would already make them incredible. His course allowed us to explore not only art but the context in which it was produced, which often led to conversations about the intellectual, political, religious, and philosophical scene that surrounded every artist and how this influenced his works. Another inspiring quality that I will never forget is Mr. Aeschliman's own curiosity and eagerness to learn. If we ever asked him a question he wasn't completely sure about, he would use his free time to research the topic in depth to find the answers we were looking for and then explain them to us. He is also always eager to listen to our own ideas about art and enjoys talking with us about them, even going out of his way to find us new material that is individually suited to our own preferences. While I was writing my IA on Michelangelo and how he was influenced by the philosophical beliefs he ascribed to, Mr. Aeschliman continuously helped me find new articles or books on the topic to help me in my research. He also prepared us incredibly well for the IB exams, allowing me to score a really high 7 on the Art History exam (90/100).

On Honors World Literature with Dr. Love:
This is another class that was incredibly inspiring for me, as it was so much more than just reading a book and talking about it in class. With Dr. Love, we did something very similar to what Mr. Aeschliman did in Art History. We would consider all the influences an author had while writing and try to find connections in the writings that would allow us to have conversations about very complex philosophical and spiritual topics. Dr. Love really taught us to appreciate literature in a way I never even thought would be possible while also training us to think outside the box and seek cross-cultural connections across different topics and areas. His passion for literature really rubbed off on me, and his curiosity about our ideas was also really motivating since he would engage in debates with us about our ideas, stimulating us to think about arguments that would defend our ideas and draw connections from different authors and books to do so. His was truly a college preparatory class. 

On the Dante Club with Dr. Love:
During each Fall Academic Travel session, the Honors World Literature class journeys to Florence to learn about the life of poet Dante Alighieri. After the 2015–2016 class finished reading Dante’s Inferno, Dr. Love's students asked to form a club in which they would continue reading the entire Divine Comedy. Now entering its fifth year, the club has grown to be a favorite among TASIS’s literary enthusiasts. Filippo’s thoughts:

The Dante Club was an incredible experience as well, as it allowed me to engage in complex and difficult conversations about philosophy, the nature of the human soul, and the meaning of life. With the guidance provided by Dr. Love, we were really able to consider very difficult (college level or even more) topics that to this day fuel discussions among the very best philosophers and intellectuals. It allowed me to have a taste of what college discussions might be like and to appreciate the beauty of literature and of discussion with my peers. 

On his earlier years:

I would like to acknowledge some of the other teachers who helped me become the person I am today. I am probably forgetting one or two, but this is just to say I have been fortunate to come across so many talented and passionate teachers who truly cared about the intellectual and character development of their students. 

Elementary School at TASIS was a magical place because we would have so much fun in class that we wouldn't even realize how much we were learning. Then all of a sudden the year would end and we’d realize we had learned so much! 

Mr. Laurent’s exciting and always mind-blowing experimental science classes were full of fun and discoveries and helped me become passionate about science. Ms. Cecilia accompanied my class for three or four full years and helped me realize how much TASIS is really a family and not only a community. Ms. Eames, the ES drama teacher at the time, helped me develop my speaking skills and helped me “conquer” an audience and engage it, helping me so much in becoming a more confident and relaxed public speaker. Mr. Bianchini taught history with contagious passion, and Ms. Federica, my strictest Italian teacher, helped me become a more rigorous student. Finally, I would be remiss to not give a special mention to Mr. Lill, who saw me first as a 6th-grade physical education student, then as my coach on the MS soccer team, and finally as my mentor/leader in Proctorship.

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