"An international heaven above the clouds where I made some of my lifelong closest friends"

This is how alumna Helen Baer described Institut Montana during her recent visit to the Zugerberg. She has more favourite memories than she can count:

Cocoa break with friends. Sitting after dinner with a cup of hot tea and chatting about our backgrounds and our world. Gorgeous sunsets overlooking Pilatus, and time spent on the otherworldly Zugerberg. Ausflüge with fellow classmates, both self-organized and through Montana.

06 March 2023

As many, Helen was nervous when she first arrived as a boarder at Montana from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota in the US. But, along with support from her extended family in Zug, she felt welcomed into the community and soon settled in. Now, she would recommend anyone who is thinking to take that huge step of attending a boarding school in a different part of the world to do it.

Helen Baer on the balcony of Institut Montana

“Being a boarding student at that stage in my life and having the experience of living away from my family and with other students my own age allowed me to gain a new level of independence. This helped me navigate University and my early career with confidence, understanding and poise.”

But it was seeking a truly international education with a rigorous program of study that drew her to the school.

I enjoyed the variety of courses offered to me at Montana, and especially the small class-sizes that allowed me to connect closely with my instructors and peers. I particularly enjoyed my English classes, and the ability to study both German and Spanish as second languages. Mr Valentino really impacted me as an English teacher.”

Picture of Helen and teacher mr. valentino

Helen went onto study Lin
guistics at McGill University in Montreal, QC Canada and immerse herself in the study of foreign language, including German, French, Spanish, Swahili, and Yiddish. She credits the international environment at Montana, “connecting with fellow students from a wide variety of cultures at a young age,” with opening her eyes to the rich possibilities of our world. This led her to begin her career supporting educators in expanding young minds.

I currently work in Education and Instructional Design for the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota as a Digital Content Developer. I help professors and teachers, like the ones who impacted me, to adapt their course materials online to reach new generations of students,”

International boarding school experience has also left her with a precious network of connections and lasting friendship. This is what she suggests current students should take with them:

Helen Baer with friends at Institut Montana

“I made some of my lifelong closest friends at Montana… As you develop connections and friendships at Montana, hang onto them, even as you travel in different directions in our increasingly interconnected and international world. We have unparalleled tools for maintaining connections from afar. Even if this is just sending a text from time to time, you won’t regret staying in touch and you never know where your path might take you.

Helen Baer at graduation

Her story is summed up by her choice of the most important things that she believes that Montana taught her:

“I developed a curiosity for the world and ability to connect with people of any kind of background – how to find some way to relate. This skill continues to serve me in my current life and career.”

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