With the new school year about to start, Shanghai French School is welcoming over 30 new members, one of them being our new Principal, M. Julien Pisselet. Curious to learn more about his personality and background, we arranged an interview with him.
Hello Julien and welcome to Shanghai! This must change you from Grenoble, how are you feeling? In what state of mind are you taking on this new challenge?
First, I thank you greatly for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself and greet the community of Shanghai French School, whom I am joining for this new school year.
Arrived in China mid-August, and as everyone who was able to enjoy the summer break outside of the country to reset and see their family, I had to go through quarantine. My first steps were thus very well controlled by the authorities, which didn’t enable me to discover China nor Shanghai. I will make sure to catch up on that in the coming weeks and months!
After three years spent in Grenoble surrounded by its three wonderful mountains, the cultural shock will hit without a doubt. Nevertheless, I made the choice to leave this environment to join you and live a new professional and personal experience with my family. It is also for me the opportunity to bring my children closer to their Chinese roots, as my wife is from Guangzhou.
I am full of energy and excitement to participate in the flourishing and the success of our students as well as the development of Shanghai French School.
Is it your first experience abroad? In China in particular? What was your previous job before joining our team?
I have been working in school leadership for ten years, and I previously worked as Principal at the CSI (Cité Scolaire Internationale) Europole in Grenoble. This school brings over 1200 students from Grade 6 to Grade 12, all of them following an ambitious and demanding school journey in an international stream (British, German, Arab, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese) or Binational (ESABAC, ABIBAC). This experience has been for me a positive link between my arrival in Shanghai and my previous position in the United Arab Emirates, because it has allowed me to maintain this specificity of international curriculums as well as institutional relationships.
I lived my first expatriate experience in 2016, where I was appointed the missions of Principal at the International French School Théodore Monod in Abu Dhabi. The cultural change, the adaptation to a new lifestyle, as well as a different professional organization are already elements I have in mind. Despite these certainties, I know that each mission possesses its own truth, and I am expecting to be startled once more in my habits and usual way of doing things. It is also what I seek throughout my professional journey.
I hope my few trips to China as a tourist will help me acclimatise to the local context quickly.
When you are not at work, what do you like doing? Any hobby or anecdote you would like to share with us?
I will not deny that my work with the school community takes a huge part of my life. Yet I pay attention to keep some time for my family to allow my children to blossom by being culturally openminded. Traveling and discovering the unknown are a necessity for us.
I practice sports as much as possible, whether it is basketball or tennis, and I hope to continue these activities here as well. I deeply believe that the values of going beyond, solidarity and respect in sports are values we can equally apply within a school structure, and I will try to make these values live as well as I can.
What do you want to tell the families who will read us?
The back to school is an important event for each family, each staff member and of course, each of our students. This back to school will take place in a heavy sanitary context and after four months in which many suffered from the isolation and imposed lockdown. But we will have a big smile on our face behind our masks on September 1! The reopening of the school and the return of our students will participate in bringing back an access to culture and knowledge of course, but more importantly, to bring back a social interaction, mandatory for everyone’s well-being.
The administrative staff have worked hard to make this back to school possible while guaranteeing everyone’s safety. We must warmly thank them because adaptations are numerous, and more are to come. All staff members have come together to ease the welcoming of our new colleagues who have joined over the summer or will arrive in September.
Everything is read for life to start again in our two beautiful campuses of Qingpu and Yangpu, and for your children to fully benefit from the exceptional quality of the infrastructures and of the staff for their academic success and personal development.
Leadership team, administrative team, teachers, families, and students will have to show resilience this year again. I am convinced we will take on the challenges to come, united, to continue to make the values of Shanghai French School thrive “Today in Shanghai, excellence for everyone, Tomorrow in the world, success for all.”
Wishing you all a great back to school.
We wish him success in his new position!