Alumni News

Alumni Notes: Spring 2020
Posted 04/01/2020 03:30PM

...you and others like you may help the world shed its scars. It’s a big world. Too big, you may feel. Never! ... choose your place and do not hide from its problems. They are big, but so are you. – M. Crist Fleming

As we all shift into this collective global pause, we send thoughts of health and wellness to everyone in our community.

We also send gratitude and thanks to all alumni and friends who work in healthcare and those who are helping to provide essential services, goods, and support to others. We appreciate the sacrifices you are making. 

We’ve been inspired by so many of our alumni who are doing creative things to help others during this trying time. We would love to hear how our community is supporting one another; email alumni@tasis.ch to share your stories.

Andrà Tutto Bene

Our hearts have been heavy watching COVID-19 affect so many in our beloved Italy. The phrase andrà tutto bene—everything is going to be okay—has appeared alongside bright rainbows on hand-painted posters in windows throughout Italy and Ticino. Indeed it has become the mantra of a wounded nation. 

Singer and songwriter Jack Savoretti ’01 wanted to help, so he reached out to his fans in Italy. He said via an Instagram post, “I wanted to know how they were doing...I also wanted to keep them busy and occupied. And to feel connected, we wrote a song together. I’ve always wanted to write a song in Italian. I don’t have the use of the language, so I asked them to write it with me, via Instagram Live, which we did, and we have a song, and I hope you like it. I’m asking everyone to do their version of it. Sing it, sing it loud!” 

The result is “Andrà tutto bene”, a moving celebration of the way Italy has come together—particularly through music—in these most challenging of times. “Every word belongs to [my Italian fans], and their incredible attitude of solidarity and positivity in such an unprecedented time.” 

On April 2, Jack announced that all proceeds from downloads of this song will be donated directly to San Martino di Genoa, a hospital on the front line of Covid-19 in northern Italy. For a video of Jack playing the song on piano, with lyrics, click here. It’s a beautiful, emotional tribute to a remarkable country.

 

Art for our Health Workers

Como’s Galleria Ramo, owned by Simon David ’08, has launched an initiative to help frontline health workers. A number of Galleria Ramo artists have donated signed and numbered prints, which will be a gift to anyone who sends Simon proof of donation of EUR 100 or more to a reputable fundraiser of their choice, in Como or beyond (image above: Collasso, by artist Federico Aprile). Simon will let donors choose the print they prefer (while supplies last). Once the current situation eases, Galleria Ramo will host an event to allow donors to meet one another and pick up their prints. “We thank you in advance for your love and support,” Simon says, “as we thank the artists who have decided to participate in this initiative so important to us. With their help, we can all make a great gesture.”

Steps, Together

Every year, TASIS faculty and staff are encouraged to contribute to the Faculty and Staff Together (FAST) Appeal, an annual opportunity with the added bonus of matching funds from the TASIS Foundation. Faculty and staff are able to choose where their donation will go; in 2020 these are the new Elementary School building, the MCF Endowment, professional development opportunities, student financial aid, or the area of greatest need (this year it’s the new sports field). As part of this year’s FAST appeal, the Development Office sent out a number of quizzes, and the winner of each one received a bottle of Tuscan olive oil. The fourth and final quiz this year asked where the sculpture “The Next Step” (pictured above) by Mary Seyfarth PG’66 is located on campus. Do you know the answer? 

Mary loved that her sculpture made the FAST campaign! She’s currently in Chicago, where she is taking daily walks to the beach to keep her spirits up. She also celebrated a good friend’s birthday by marching outside her friend’s house—what a great way to show a friend you care while social distancing!

(Oh, and the answer? “The Next Step” is on the grass to the right of Casetta—and the winner was MS Intern Vitor Mendes!)

 

Zoom from Lugano

If you’re like us, you’ve quickly got to terms with the countless ways to communicate with others online. School photographer Kim Nelson has put together a collection of images perfect for your Zoom backdrop so that your next work meeting, virtual dinner party, or family discussion can be in front of your favorite view. Enjoy!

(Above: CDE Minnow alumna Orla Strachan delighted to be by the virtual red bench.)

 

Behind the Scenes

We continue to be inspired by the way our TASIS community is keeping up Lugano connections and helping others during the lockdown. 

Bagels: MS Dorm Head Matthew Beckwith-Laube (above) is keeping teachers and staff smiling with freshly made bagels. His Community Dough project includes a weekly stash of plain, cinnamon raisin, sesame/sea salt, and herb bagels at the bargain price of CHF 6 for four (to cover his costs only). “Food has been the center of my educational experience,” he says. “Eating is an agricultural act, and is something my family centered around and a mantra that has followed me from Lake Placid to Carbondale to here.” 

Shopping: Recent Ticino legislation has made it illegal for anyone over age 65 to shop in supermarkets. Indeed, anyone looking “of age” is asked for ID at the door (just ask Paul Greenwood, who snuck in a last trip to Aldi before being asked to leave!). 

Our own Yvonne Procyk is spending some of her time shopping for friends and neighbors who can’t make it out. She saw TASIS Chef Fabio at the Coop Resega last week doing the same for his neighbors. “Everything is well organized, as you’d expect,” Yvonne says. “Gloves are available in the supermarkets, hand sanitizer is everywhere, and shopping carts and baskets are disinfected after use.” We know that their efforts, and the efforts of others who are helping out the over-65s, are appreciated and make our community proud.

Creativity: We announced our new school crest in January, which inspired Admissions Operations Manager Helen Roowalla to riff on the design in her distinctive style (see above). Helen has been an exhibiting artist since 2011 and her art is in collections and galleries worldwide. Her style, characterized by bold lines and bright colors, is influenced by pop, comic, and street art. Helen draws inspiration from her experiences, travels, and the unique mix of her Persian/Indian origins and European and American upbringing.

Helen provided a black-and-white version of the logo for a coloring challenge, giving our community a chance to get creative. Join us! Click here for the coloring sheet, and send us a photo of your version! We’ll share some of the best ones in an upcoming newsletter.

Front Line: Franco Renzetti, from the TASIS security team, helps keep our campus safe every day. But he also serves as a volunteer ambulance driver in Italy. He and his colleagues, who wear robust protective gear in their roles, have witnessed unimaginable scenes during these past weeks, from human suffering to delivering patients to makeshift wards, one of which was formerly a garage for ambulances. We are in awe of his commitment to helping others. We are safer because of people like Franco. 

Comune Spirit: The Collina d’Oro comune recently put word out for volunteers to help the over-65s or housebound by delivering groceries, prescriptions, and other necessities. We’ve had word that a few of our faculty and staff were among the first in line to help. They’d never boast about it, so we’ll keep mum—but we thank them.

Isolation Inspiration

We’ve already heard of alumni using this extra time to connect with old friends and classmates. We hope that seeing a familiar face has brought you joy. And if you’ve been meaning to look that person up on Facebook, do it! 

We’ve put together a list of ways you can enjoy and support the work of your fellow alumni, featuring new works and some of our favorites from the past. We hope you can find a little bit of inspiration during isolation.

READ

Ariana Neumann ’88’s book When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remained (Simon & Schuster) came out last month to excellent reviews in the Guardian, Times, Financial Times, and New York Times.

Longtime corporate communication expert Stan Sehested ’71 recently published his first book, Push-Button Ingenuity, which focuses on how creativity and ingenuity can be used to enhance innovation.

In 2011, Lyle Rigg spent many months putting together a book of Mrs. Fleming’s most inspiring quotations. The book The Wit and Wisdom of Mary Crist Fleming contains pithy, thoughtful, and poignant words that are as relevant today as they were when Mrs. Fleming penned them. She loved the power of words as windows into a person’s character; you’ll learn much about her through this collection, too. Click on the link above for a PDF of the book, and hardback copies can be ordered from the Alumni Office.

Contemporary art website Widewalls recently featured Luca Marziale ’08 in an interview about his work.

Armchair wine lovers will enjoy Vino Voices, a blog by Tom Mullen ’81. Part travelogue, part cookbook, part wine recommendations, the blog gives a delicious glimpse into life in Bordeaux.

WATCH

Happy Jail
We have the antidote to a doldrums day: watch Happy Jail on Netflix! Filmmaker Michele Josue ’97 goes behind the scenes at the Cebu Province Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines, home to inmates who, in 2007, created a viral video watched by more than 60 million people. This uplifting documentary chronicles the importance of community and resilience despite dire circumstances—a powerful message in these times.

(We also recommend Michele’s emotional award-winning 2014 documentary Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, about Michele’s friendship with Matthew Shepard ’95, which is available on a variety of streaming platforms.)

Rise of Empire: Ottoman
If you haven’t caught Tommaso Basili ’00 in the Netflix saga Rise of Empire: Ottoman, you’re in for a treat. Tommaso plays Emperor Constantine XI in the program that shows how Muhammad II conquered Constantinople, ending the Byzantine Empire and starting the Ottoman Empire.

Marriage Story
Also on Netflix is Oscar nominee Marriage Story, a drama about divorce that includes a character (played by Laura Dern, who won Best Supporting Actress for the role) that more than casually resembles Laura Wasser ’86. The lawyer has represented such high-profile people as Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, Maria Shriver, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in her divorce from Marriage Story’s director, Noah Baumbach. Read about the similarities between the film and real life, including some possibly stolen phrases, in Vulture’s interview with Laura.

Curfew
If you haven’t caught Billy Zane ’84 in the series Curfew, you’re in for a slightly spooky surprise. The show, which premiered a year ago, is about an unstoppable virus sweeping across the world that results in a curfew that forbids people from leaving their homes between 19:00 and 7:00. That’s where the parallels end, however; the virus in the show mutates humans into feral, dangerous creatures (and involves spectacular car chases), so if anything it will make you feel a bit better about Covid-19. The show is streaming via a number of services. Click here to read a Q&A with Billy from The Guardian, and here for an interview from Billy’s participation in the Cairo Film Festival last November.

LISTEN

Our Communications team has been flirting with the idea of podcasts. The first three are available on Soundcloud; we think our alumni will be particularly interested in “A Conversation with Three TASIS Legends,” which features Mark Aeschliman, Bill Eichner, and Howard Stickley.

It goes without saying that putting on a Jack Savoretti ’01 track will lift your spirits.

Hear one of our faves, Jeanie Cunningham ’75, and her earworm song “Take Me Home, Huey,” inspired by a film and art project featuring

If you like the background music in our incredible TASIS videos, have a listen to Alex Zanecchia ’01.

TASIS Together

Of course the TASIS reunion and event schedule has been shifted due to recent events. We are sorry to say that our San Francisco reunion, originally scheduled for March 14, had to be canceled at the last minute. We are as disappointed as everyone who registered and are planning to reschedule this event. The tentative new date is July 17, same time, same place! We’ll update you later when the situation is clearer and will open a new sign-up for those who can make it.

Similarly, the three class reunions that were scheduled for May have been postponed. We look forward to hearing details and new dates for the Class of ’75 and ca. ’71 groups—and to welcoming the Class of 2000 to campus in May 2021. 

"When things get tough, put lipstick on a stiff upper lip."

— M. Crist Fleming

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