Mansour Al Zamil: One of the Children of the Clouds

Mansour Saleh Al Zamil, an Institut Montana Zugerberg alumnus, shares his experience during his time with us. You can find him in Saudi Arabia where he oversees AL AQTAB Group, Al Zamil Heavy Industries Ltd. and is currently finishing up his tell-all in his book titled, Children of the Clouds.

04 February 2019

What brought you to study at Institut Montana Zugerberg?

My father had established a business in nearby Vaduz, Liechtenstein in the mid 70’s. We were living in Rorschach (Canton St. Gallen) at the time. Initially, I went to a different private school but my father wanted a different experience for me and that’s how I ended up at Institut Montana Zugerberg.

Why did you choose the program of study that you did?

As I had a good command of English, the American section was the natural choice for me but I also took German classes as well.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

I had two favorite teachers; Mr. John Mather & Mr. Kevin O’Brien. Not surprisingly, they were my teachers for both biology and history; the two classes I loved most. Both were very sincere and considerate. They put a lot of effort in making sure that the students understood their subjects. Not only that, but they played a major role in our upbringing as boarding students as they were our mentors so to speak. Today, I own an establishment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia which focuses on preserving the history of the old town. I believe my love for history from a young age had a lot to do with that. I owe them a lot.

Were you a day student or boarding student? 

I was a boarding student. For two years I lived in the building known as Felsenegg, and a year in the building known as Grosses Haus. Life on the mountain was very unique. There were many rules that we had to abide by which were difficult to adhere to at first, but as time went by, I got used to them. We were constantly involved in extracurricular activities that almost completely filled our spare time. This promoted the communal bond we students had with one another and with our teachers. The campus setting was very unique, and played a big part in the relationships students and staff had. I personally made lifelong friendships with both my fellow students and teachers. This would not have been possible without the great care and attention of our teachers.

What was your favorite memory and why?

I have so many memories. I wrote a book about my three years at the school, “Children of the Clouds,” whose pages are filled with all of the memories and events that made me the person I am today. One funny memory I recall was when I was denied “Ausgang” or leave, for over 6 weeks. I will always remember that Saturday when I was finally allowed off campus. Everyone in the dining room was holding their breath and praying for me as I got my “Ausgang Slip” signed from all teachers concerned. There was a sigh of relief and joy. I remember everyone wanted to spend the afternoon in Zug with me.

Did you participate in any clubs or activities?

I was involved in all the sporting activities. I played for the school’s basketball and football teams. Additionally, I always looked forward to “Class-Night”; where each class performed a play every year.

What is the importance of studying in an international environment?

So important that without this exposure one struggles in life today. Living at school with students from so many other countries brought with it the diversification that we all needed. This deepened our appreciation of others; of how they thought and of why they thought that way. It taught me that there are more views than mine that needed to be respected and understood. It taught me how to accept and respect those who are very different from me.

If someone was considering studying at Institut Montana Zugerberg, what would you tell them?

First of all, I would tell them how lucky they were to be considering Institut Montana Zugerberg. They will be embarking on a journey that will forever change their life. Go ahead and make that very vital decision to go - go and grow.

How did Institut Montana Zugerberg prepare you for university? For your career?

The school took education very seriously. I recall when I had difficulties; I was very quickly supervised and guided to catch up with the rest. Along with the curriculum came individual development and support. I strongly believe that the teachers managed to create a balance that not only prepared us for university, but for life as a whole.

What is the one thing you learned from Insitut Montana Zugerberg that you found most valuable?

You can’t live three years at this school and learn only one thing. I learned that respect will take you far. I learned that communicating your thoughts with others and respecting theirs took you even further. I learned that discipline is the foundation of tangible results. I learned that rising above our differences only made me see clearer. I learned how to bring up my own children many years later using the same values and principles.

How would you describe Institut Montana Zugerberg in five words?

Nourishing! Institut Montana Zugerberg not only fed my mind, but my heart and soul as well! 

What tips or advice would you offer to current students?

First of all, they need to know that they are very lucky to be studying at Institut Montana Zugerberg. They need to realize that time flies by, and they need to enjoy every minute of being at the school. They need to appreciate being in a multicultural surrounding, and that this will help them see the world better many years down the line. They need to take the friendships they are creating today very seriously because it’s forming their identity and through it, they will become the upright men and women of tomorrow. They need to understand that they are now creating their memories for the future, and that one day - 20 or 30 years from now - wherever they are in the world or wherever life takes them, they will reflect with a lot of gratitude that they were given the opportunity to once have lived at Institut Montana Zugerberg.

Any last comments?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak my thoughts. I’ve been carrying these thoughts with me my whole life. I always shared them with my friends and my children, but never with those who like myself have lived at the school; with those who know exactly what I’m talking about. Danke! 

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