Dual British-French citizen Sebastien Barnard grew up in the Lion City from the ages of 4 to 18.
Though he headed back to Europe for university, it wasn’t long before he moved to Singapore for good. Now a father himself, he’s lived here for a total of 35 years – and became the Head of Marketing Communications & Admissions for GEMS World Academy (Singapore) in early 2017. This is a glimpse into Sebastien’s own unique past and present.
What schools did you attend in Singapore?
“I started school at Weyhill Preparatory School before it become Tanglin Junior School, then Tanglin Trust School. After that, I went to United World College SEA, where I graduated with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.”
What was your school experience like in SG?
“The number of different nationalities and families I interacted with gave me an extremely broad experience of people. Being able to travel around the region, either on field trips or for sporting competitions, was extremely valuable for my future.”
What was your favourite thing about living in SG as a child?
“The weather. It was always warm, which meant I could always be outside – even when it was raining.”
What about SG did you miss most when you moved away?
“My friends. The bonds you build with friends as an expatriate kid are special. Even now when we get together, no matter how long it has been, we always seem to slip right back into conversations.”
What are your favourite things about living in SG nowadays?
“The safe environment that Singapore offers. When you have kids of your own, it is certainly something you think about.”
How has SG changed since you lived here as a child?
“Other than the sheer number of new buildings, I think Singapore has even more to offer families. Today, you could spend a lifetime exploring new restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping experiences and nightlife. And, with the advent of budget airlines, it has become even more of a hub for regional travel.”
What advice do you have for expat parents raising children in SG?
“Let children explore. Let them get dirty; let them spread their wings. Singapore is such a safe and opportunistic environment; it would be a waste not to allow children to gain independence early on. If you are going to leave Singapore, grab the opportunities available to you now: Travel the region, try all the food you can.”
How does your school help families deal with these transitions?
“At GEMS World Academy (Singapore), creating a family environment is extremely important – it starts during the admissions and enrolment process. Having the “buddy” system in place helps new students fit in quickly. The GEMS Parent Teacher Community (PTC) helps mothers and fathers find a place in the school, too. Parents can be found playing sports together, visiting parts of Singapore or simply having a chat at our Parent Café. Meanwhile, their children are immersed in a friendly, caring environment that provides all the academic, sporting and artistic opportunities they could ever need.”
By Sara Lyle Bow, The Finder Kids Vol. 22
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