A new image of French Adventist Campus

A new image of French Adventist Campus

Inauguration of the new dormitory at the Inter-European Division’s Adventist Campus in France

September 02, 2019 | C.Cozzi. Picture P.Torres, C.Cozzi

Collonges sous-Salève, France. [CD-EUDNews]. On Sunday, September 1, 2019, a new building was inaugurated at Campus Adventiste du Salève, Collonges sous-Salève, France.
In the presence of the local authorities and the Seventh-day Adventists in France and in Europe, with a beautiful and sunny atmosphere, Jean-Philippe Lehmann, the campus director, presented his inauguration message to about 100 attendees.

This, however, is not just a new building following the others inaugurated on the campus since 1921, when the Campus Adventiste started. It is much more.

Following an inspection by the local authorities, the boys' dormitory had to receive substantial interventions to comply with current laws on public facilities. They had been planned for a long time, but it was no longer possible to wait. This is how the project for a new boys’ dormitory takes shape, including the need to be built in sufficiently determined times.

"We selected various projects and proposals," says Campus Director Jean-Philippe Lehmann, “and we chose what you see now.”
Of course, like any project, the Campus Administration relied on the expertise of the architect who carried out the construction, and the choice for the construction of this structure could not have been placed in better hands. "We are satisfied with the work done by the team of the architects Mr. Pascal Vuarand" Lehmann continued, "who listened and realized our intentions.”

In fact, the structure responds to a concept of accommodation oriented to create not only reception, but also opportunities, especially for the community. In order to implement this concept, the director Lehmann also made use of the experience of the previous boys' dean, Gabriel Samperio, who has always worked with young people and knows the needs of a structure to accommodate them.

"I thought about how the young guests would want to live in a boarding school, and what would be the elements that would make their stay enjoyable," says Samperio. This residence is not only a dormitory. It offers a wide range of spaces where students can work, cook, pray, play sports, or relax together. These are community spaces, varied, comfortable, with Wifi everywhere, that will meet the new expectations of a student in the 21st century.

But beyond the reception facilities for students and guests passing through, Samperio suggested setting up a hostel in the basement of the building that could accommodate up to 60 people. "The basic idea is that here we can now host training courses, youth meetings, meetings that require rooms for sleeping, and also facilities for work in groups and to animate the programs of these meetings," Samperio explains, inviting all to consider the Campus Adventiste as an optimal offer for such encounters.
It is here that the prerequisite for considering this new structure as more than a dormitory for students emerges.

But there is still more. The name given to the structure is an unequivocal message. The structure is dedicated to Jean Weidner.

“It is no coincidence that this new residence is named after Jean Weidner,” Lehmann said. “Jean Weidner, who grew up on this campus, perfectly illustrates the strength of character and self-sacrifice that are the result of an education with a capital E.”
For those who don't know, Jean Weidner, of Dutch origin, was a man like everyone else. At the beginning of the war he lived in Lyon where he tried to develop a small business. That is until the day he witnessed Nazi barbarism: the murder of a baby in front of his eyes, in a station. From his deepest indignation would come a considerable energy to act, to help, to save.

Jean Weidner created and managed the Dutch-Paris network, which extended from Holland to Spain, with a hook through Collonges, to bring refugees to Switzerland, in the vineyards of Bardonnex.
It is estimated that this network, which, at its peak, involved nearly 300 members, saved the lives of nearly 3,000 people: Jewish fugitives, resistance fighters, and airmen. General de Gaule's own brother was exfiltrated to Switzerland on Jean Weidner's back.

“Like Jean Weidner and his friends, I dream that every student, after passing through our school, may be able to be outraged, to revolt peacefully, even to disobey when the established order becomes inhuman,” Lehmann concluded.  

At the inaugural ceremony, the president of the Inter-European Region of the Seventh-day Adventist Church based in Bern, Switzerland, said: "Soon, Collonges will celebrate its 100th anniversary. When I reflect on what this institution has done over the years, I can only compare it to a fruit tree that is still full of vigor and ready to face the challenges of a promising new century. 
" I sincerely hope that the inauguration of this new building can be an encouragement to all those engaged in the task of caring for this century-old and fruitful tree. [That they agree] to shake hands and to carry on, in an even more determined way, the mission entrusted to us: [the mission] to form men and women who see humanity as a family whose members help each other in the pursuit of solidarity, integrity, and harmonious development of all their talents and capacities, for the benefit of individuals and the society in which they live.”

“You have values of excellence at heart to enable students to acquire an education,” said Mrs. Virginie Duby-Muller, Member of Parliament for Haute-Savoie. “With this building, we can see that you put students’ needs at the heart of [your concern] and the quality of teaching is one of your priorities.”

Following the same line of thought was Mr Jean-Marc BASSAGET, Deputy Prefect of Haute-Savoie, “This moment is not only a moment of inauguration of a new building, but a very strong moment in the life of your establishment, and it goes beyond what it gives us to see. You give those who come to study there the material conditions for a quality welcome and the comfort of a successful education.
You gave this building an extra charge. We're not going to enter this building like we would anywhere else. By giving it the name of Jean Weidner, you participated in a work of building memories, so that the past enlightens our present, and prevents us from reproducing the same mistakes. It is through education that we raise the level of a country.”

At the inauguration was present also Mr. Georges Etallaz, Major of Collonges-sous-Salève.

The Campus Adventiste du Salève is located in France,  Collonges-sous Salève, at Switzerland’s border. Easily accessible from all over the world through the presence of an international airport in Geneva. The Campus welcomes all levels of education, from kindergarten to baccalaureate, including the Seminar of Theology and the French language course, IFLO, entirely recognized by the state.

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