GESS50: Waltraud Sumargo’s 30 Years at GESS

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Tell us a little more about yourself.

My name is Waltraud Sumargo. I came to Singapore from Indonesia in August 1989 with my daughter Sabrina and my husband Jimmy. My daughter then joined the second grade and I started teaching at the German School Singapore in spring 1991. Prior to that, in Indonesia, I worked intermittently at the German School Jakarta from 1980 to 1989.

What was life at GESS like back then?

In 1989, there was no GESS, only the German School Singapore located at Bukit Tinggi. The student body was not as international as it is today. But there was a good neighbourhood community feel with the French school across the street. If my memory does not deceive me, physical education classes were held in their gym. Of course, the faculty and administrative team was so small that you knew every colleague and every staff member at the school.

Also, the “teacher’s tower” and the sports hall located at Swiss Club were not in existence yet.

The teachers’ room was in the administration building and the canteen in the library area.

There was a chemistry classroom, a biology classroom designed like a lecture hall, and a physics classroom. One floor up was the art room. All the other rooms were classrooms. At that time, students could already sit for the Abitur (German school graduation exams) at the school. There was only one class per grade level.

What was new for me at the German school in Singapore was that the school was so green and far away from the main street. I could often go outside with the students to study biological facts. Until shortly before our move to Diary Farm, one could observe the Malayan Flying Lemur at Bukit Tinggi.


The picture was taken in 2015 in the library at Bukit Tinggi Campus during the “Learning Workshop” by Daniel Gottwald.
Daniel Gottwald was a teaching assistant at the time and has been a teacher at GESS since 2021.

What are your fondest memories of your early years at GESS?

Every year there was a teachers’ trip which most colleagues joined. We even went to Pulau Rawa and Pulau Sibu in Malaysia.

The school festivals, which were organised by the classes, were a highlight of the school year even in my early days.

There was also close contact with the parents, who, for instance, supported me on excursions or class trips.

If you could sum up your long time at GESS in a few words, how would you describe your experience here?

It never gets boring! Every year at GESS is special in its own way!

What do you wish GESS for its 50th birthday?

I wish GESS the very best for the future, to make “roots and wings” a reality for all students.

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