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Saints on the Hill: A Passport to Understanding

Saints on the Hill: A Passport to Understanding

Comments from traveling companions during a ski trip this past winter made Chloé ’24 realize that her diverse nationalities sometimes brought out different sides of herself. She was eager to share that realization with the Canterbury community during her recent Saints on the Hill presentation at School Meeting.

“I went skiing with my English cousins in the French Alps, and they kept telling me how different I was when I spoke French, that there is an English Chloé and a French Chloé” she explained. “They could not tell what I was saying, but they noticed how different my expressions and tone were; that my French was more aggressive and forceful. It was one of many examples in my life that have shown me how being bilingual or part of multiple cultures can make you question your true identity.”

Chloé has been immersed in a variety of cultures so far in her life. Her father, who is French and Swiss, and her mother (“my mum”), who is British, met while skiing in the Swiss Alps. Chloé was born in Chicago after they had moved there for her father’s work. “Many people here at Canterbury did not realize that I had previously experienced life in America, nor could they imagine me having an American accent as a three-year-old preschooler,” said Chloé, who now speaks with a British accent.

In 2009, the family moved to the French Alps across the border from Switzerland when her father started working for the United Nations in Geneva. Chloé was enrolled in a bilingual school that allowed her to develop her learning both in French and English.

“I have four passports,” she shared. “I am French but also British, Swiss, and American. Being part of many different cultures has been challenging at times. I was never quite sure where I fit in, and the concept of ‘home’ was confusing for me.”

Prior to coming to Canterbury, Chloé was enrolled in art school in Switzerland for a year but very much wanted to study in the United States. “I remember Googling ‘Best boarding schools in the U.S.’ one evening and finding a school that had colorful imagery and a link to an admission video. That school was Canterbury, I applied—and four months later, I was 15 years old and 3,862 miles from home!”

When she arrived, Chloé tried hard to act like an American to fit in. But over time, she realized that she should let all of her nationalities shine through. “I discovered the importance of embracing my many cultural backgrounds,” she explained. “These countries are a part of who I am. Each one has influenced me.”

Just weeks from graduation, Chloé is ready to continue expanding her cultural horizons. “I will be pursuing a new chapter of my life next year in Spain,” she shared. “And I look forward to experiencing another cultural change and experience in my life.”