Highlighted Articles

Facing and Learning From Our International School Contradictions

August 15, 2018


I learned about International Schools in the early 1980’s. A Principal whom worked with in the States mentioned he had just returned from two years of teaching in Jedda. He explained International Schools to me and I thought, “Are you kidding?” I tucked the information away in my ‘mental pocket’.

About ten years later, I was working with a successful juggling, magic and music ‘Medicine Show’. I had created this show with a partner and it became quite successful. Nonetheless, I was feeling ‘stale’ in my work and in fact, in my life and felt the need to be challenged and indeed, ‘confused’. I decided to travel… to India. I remembered that Principal and thought that it would a good idea to get short-term work at an International School to help pay for a trip or to simply get a tax write-off. I sent letters to every International School in India. I was invited to come to Kodaikanal International School in Tamil Nadu.

International School

It was, by then, the mid to late ’80’s, a time before the Indian economy had opened to global trade. My arrival at the airport startled me, filled with both confusion and a complex smell of multiple ingredients. My bus trip from the airport left me far from my eventual destination of Colaba, the old Victorian section near the original Taj. It was around 2am. I walked towards my destination. The streets were filled with sleeping people. I walked filled with the alert caution I cultivated from growing up in New York City. In spite of anticipating potential ‘trouble’ I couldn’t ignore the fact that the vibe was actually quite tranquil and not in the least confrontational. My shoulders relaxed, my gait slowed and I realized I had just received the first lesson of my journey, never judge what you see, from what you’ve seen.

That has been one of the many gifts I’ve received from 35 years of visits to International Schools in over 65 countries. There have been others…stories of the world’s endless diversity, opportunities to work with intelligent and dedicated people, the chance to see how an education blessed with abundant resources, time, space and adventures effects students and their teachers. While working, I have always tried to carve out time to travel… a few days here and there, a dip into Lake Malawi, Christmas time in Ethiopia’s Lalibela, hiking the Steppes of Mongolia driving the mountain roads around the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Oman and simply being a flaneur in the streets of Paris, Rome, Sofia, Gothenburg, Lima, etc.

I’ve been lucky with what I’ve been able to see and learn. I purposely placed myself in circumstances previously unexplored by me and where I had to trust my instincts and the world I was temporarily immersed in. The results has been one gift after another; the experience and appreciation of the essential goodness and abundance of the planet; its physical beauty and its diverse inhabitants.

However, I can’t deny that part of working with the International School community is also a discomfort that comes from an awareness that the world that supports International Schools is often one supported by economic inequality and resource and human exploitation. Working in International Schools helps all of us understand that we, the privileged, walk ‘roads’ around the world occupied by a very small percentage of the Earth’s inhabitants. It can feel like a contradiction when we teach about the importance of supporting our planet’s social and ecological diversity while realizing that the system that supports our profession often consciously or inadvertently contributes to the very things we are trying to erase; inequality and unsustainable use of resources.

How do we resolve this? We probably never fully do. I probably haven’t, but being part of International School Community has convinced me that the education we share must now move towards one that is not oblivious to these contradictions. Nor, in my opinion, should we assuage our discomfort through charity or a sense of ‘noblesse oblige’; an attitude that leads to ‘top down’ benevolence. The true nature of our engagement with the world must begin with the idea that ‘We are all in it together’ Only when we understand that our fates and the fates of those who are much less economically privileged than us and who so often provide the food and services that privileges us, are the same.

In this ‘next era’ of International School education, we know that colonialism is not the system that should define our engagement with the world. We understand that ‘charity’ no longer is enough or even smart. Our engagement with the worlds of our ‘host’ countries, must be based on respecting the intelligence and often unacknowledged ways these countries have traditionally negotiated complex problems of social and ecological diversity and limited resources. In the International School Community, we must now see ourselves as partners with our host countries and not as overlords; partners in the struggle for a sustainable and more egalitarian world.

I have learned first hand that this understanding is not the one that has been dominant. One year, I was brought to a school in India to work with non-violence issues. Next to the school was a settlement of poor folk living in crowded and incredibly trying circumstances. I wondered how they get along with each other in these trying situations, so I suggested going into this community and finding out how they dealt with conflict. Previously, the only contact the school had with this community was a charity based, where the children of the community were invited in to do art, receive food and to play with the children in the International School. The leadership of the school nixed the kind of exploration I proposed.

A shift in this perspective to one of mutual learning will point us to creating a shared practice with those who are our neighbors and colleagues; a shift that will allow us to learn from those who have lived in our ‘adopted’ countries much longer than we have. Their practices, often part of our host countries historical agricultural techniques, their water use policies, waste disposal and construction methods, are things we can learn from. Living within limits are often part of many people’s cultural heritage, philosophy and behavior. To learn from and participate with others in taking care of all of our environment and population leads to an investigation of how the industrialized world sometimes promotes practices with the opposite effect. Understanding and learning about locally based wisdom can be a big step in moving our relationship with our host countries to one of equality and sharing and an understanding that inequality, exploitation and the imposed destruction of the ‘locally grown’ aren’t smart for anybody. The result of not taking advantage of learning about local wisdom can result in everyone being vulnerable to its effect.

This kind of education, one that understands that everyone teaches and everyone learns, can help to resolve the discomfort we feel living and working in worlds seemingly isolated from the problems of the multitude of people who live outside our gates. International Schools can be part of a vanguard movement in International Education that learns as well as it teaches, shares as well as takes and helps the planet moves forward to an acknowledgment of the fragility of our Earth and how our ‘boat’ is ultimately shared by all…a good way to educate for the future, I think.

This article was submitted to us by guest author, Marc Levitt. Marc Levitt is a filmmaker (Stories in Stone, Woven in Time and the ‘in process, Triple Decker, A New England Love Story), author (Putting Everyday Life on the Page, Changing Curriculum Through Stories, A Holistic Approach to Culture Change), storyteller, radio host (www.ActionSpeaksRadio.com) and has been working in the International School Community as a Key Note speaker, workshop leader and storyteller for over 35 years. He is currently the ‘Scholar in Resident’ in a working class community’s school system in Rhode Island, USA. Marc can be reached at www.MarcLevitt.org or MarcJoelLevitt@gmail.com

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: American Embassy School New Delhi

March 15, 2018


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the American Embassy School New Delhi (India), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to American Embassy School New Delhi…

I have been working at the American Embassy School (AES) in New Delhi for the past year. My journey to school starts every morning at 7:45am (March 2018) when I leave my apartment. I consider myself pretty lucky because the whole commute takes less than ten minutes and I can walk.

I am currently living at the Embassy of Bulgaria. apparently, Bulgaria had a huge delegation in India in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, but due to some financial issues, the delegation has shrunk considerably in recent years. Thus, many of the apartments at the Embassy that used to be occupied by Bulgarians are now occupied by teachers from my school. Out of twenty-one apartments in the complex, eleven are occupied by AES teachers and ten are occupied by Bulgarian diplomats.

Journey to School

(The gardens on the Bulgarian Embassy grounds.)

The grounds of the apartment complex are quite beautiful. When I leave my apartment, I can hear birds chirping and see the sun shining (at least, I can in the spring and summertime – in the fall and winter there is quite a bit of pollution). But, this time of year, March, the sky is blue and there is bougainvillea blooming everywhere. The bright pink flowers bring a profusion of color to the landscape.

Journey to School

(Bougainvillea along the walls of the Bulgarian Embassy Compound.)

The gardener waves to me as I walk past. He’s busy feeding some of the many cats that live on the compound. There is a mama cat with four kittens who always say hi. They like to hang out in the backyard of the building. Every apartment comes with a terrace and garden, which is quite nice. There is also a pool that we can use, some barbecue grills, and a playground with a trampoline for kids.

Journey to School

(The pool at the Bulgarian Embassy – it’s filled from April to September.)

The apartment complex is a walled compound and there is a guard at the entrance 24/7. On my way out of the complex, I say to the guard “Namaste, Aap kaysayhey?” and he replies “Mayen tikh hoon.” I step out of the quiet of the Bulgarian and on to the street. There is color everywhere and the bees are humming around. It’s warm and breezy, maybe 70 degrees fahrenheit, and the high for the day will be close to 90F.

Journey to School

(The outside of the Bulgarian Embassy.)

I turn right and start walking. Along the way, I pass yellow and green auto-rickshaws (the traditional mode of transport in Delhi, very similar to the tuk-tuks of Bangkok), city taxis, motorbikes, and the ever ubiquitous white Suzukis that are used by Uber drives. Uber has recently become the preferred method of transport in Delhi and the white cars are everywhere. That’s one of the reasons why the traffic in the city is so bad. The proliferation of Uber. Thankfully, I don’t have to drive to get to school.

The walk is lovely. I pass the grounds of the Russian Trade Federation and the Ravi Shankar Foundation. There are bushes and yellow flowers and everything has been newly trimmed and smells like cut grass. I think most people who come to Delhi would be surprised by how green the city is. Although it’s home to twenty-five million people, there are quite a lot of trees.

Journey to School

(The entrance to the Russian Trade Federation.)

A sweet yellow dog comes up to me and says hello. Delhi has lots of street dogs and they are, for the most part, super cute and very friendly. I give yellow dog a pat on the head and continue on my walk. I pass a giant banyan tree, it’s roots all twisted and gnarly. I like the way the sunlight looks when its coming through the leaves. Everything is golden and shimmering.

Journey to School

(Yellow dog outside the British School.)

The traffic on the street in the morning is heavy because the British School is on this street. It’s across the street from my own school and parents and drivers are dropping their kids off for the day. I side step the traffic and continue along the street. Like I said, the whole walk only takes about 10 minutes. But sometimes I dawdle and daydream.

Journey to School

(The banyan tree in front of the British School.)

Journey to School

(The yellow and green auto rickshaw waits for someone who needs a ride. Be ready to barter.)

Across the street from the British School is Vivekanand Camp. The people living in this community have been there for generations. It’s a miracle that the camp hasn’t been torn down yet – it’s the only one still left in the Embassy area, Chanakyapuri. It’s estimated that as many as 2,000 people live in the camp. They don’t have running water. Sometimes, on my way home from school, I see the municipal water truck parked outside the camp entrance. The women come outside with buckets to fill up from the spigot on the side of the truck.

There are always kids from the camp hanging out on the street. In the morning, they are headed to school. They wear the white pants and red sweaters that signal the government school uniform. In the afternoon, the boys play cricket. They harbor dreams of being the next Virat Kohli. He’s the current captain of the Indian national team. The camp is a stark reminder of the wealth inequity that persists in India and other countries in the developing world to this day.

Journey to School

(Boys hanging out outside Vivekanand Camp.)

I cross the street after passing Vivekanand Camp and I am at the entrance to my school. The school is surrounded by high walls and security guards. Men stand patrol at the gates and there are armed soldiers present. The campus is secure and safe. It’s right next to the American Embassy. I go in gate number 4.

Journey to School

(A woman walks past Gate #4, one of the entrances to AES.)

Once inside, it’s a short walk for me to the middle school building. The AES grounds are approximately eleven acres, and it feels a lot like a college campus. There are separate buildings for the elementary, middle, and high schools, athletic fields, a theatre, a cafe, a gymnasium, a pool, and even a climbing wall.

Journey to School

(A campus directory points the way to some of the different buildings that make up AES.)

The campus is known for being home to many different species of butterflies and birds. The biodiversity is incredible. Especially if you are used to living in a grey urban landscape. The number of gardeners who work on campus must number close to fifty. There are so many flowers to water and plants to take care of – they do an amazing job.

Journey to School

(Flowers on campus. They change with the seasons.)

I consider stopping to sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine, but it’s close to 8am already. Teachers have to be at work at 8:00, although classes don’t start until 8:30. I’ll go to my classroom to do some prep and get ready for my classes.

Journey to School

(Benches and a garden outside the entrance to one of the elementary school buildings.)

I’ve made it to the entrance to my building. I give thanks for the nature that surrounded me on my walk, blink once more in the sunshine, and go inside to greet my day.

Journey to School

(A bulletin board next to the entrance to the middle school. Go AES tigers!)

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Megan Vosk. Megan Vosk is a middle school MUN and Humanities teacher at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. She loves helping young people become more compassionate and engaged citizens. When she is not teaching, she likes to spend her time reading, watching movies, practicing yoga, and dining out with her husband.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Asia?  Out of a total of 201 international schools we have listed in Asia, 59 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

American International School Dhaka (53 comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 Comments)
Good Shepherd International School (411 Comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 Comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 Comments)
Oberoi International School (36 Comments)
SelaQui International School (36 Comments)
Woodstock School (58 Comments)
Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (53 Comments)
Abraham Lincoln School (Nepal) (36 Comments)
Colombo International School (64 Comments)
The British School in Colombo (41 Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Highlighted Articles

The International Education Dream

February 21, 2018


Every year, hundreds of leaders of international schools throughout India gather for professional development and share recent research in the field of international education.  It is an impressive gathering of teachers, who have an opportunity to proudly represent their school and share their exciting developments with their international colleagues. They have many reasons to be proud, as thousands of children from these schools go on to pursue prestigious university degrees all over the world, while a large percentage, have their sights set on America.

“So many of our young bright Indian students are aspiring to attend American colleges and living the dream of a college experience in America” explained a Board Chairman of a leading international school in India. However, rather than continue with glowing accolades for these students, there seemed to an air of concern in his voice. As the conversation continued it became apparent that he wasn’t concerned about the academic program but rather the location of the institutions. “What we really need here is American universities with satellite campuses in major Indian cities. We need our sons and daughters to stay here in India to study.” Upon further inquiry into his concerns, he went on to explain: “We are worried that our children who go abroad, will lose our strong cultural traditions and responsibility of family. Who will care for the grandparents?”

This pure honest expression of concern over cultural differences expressed through this conversation was one of many concerns that are starting to be voiced. Families are expressing apprehension when their children are exposed to, and influenced by, different cultural ideas regarding relationships, religion, traditions, core values and more. What happens when the culture of your home country and the cultural experience of your international education differ or even clash?

Could this potential clash already begin in your home country, before you embark on an education abroad?

One could argue that these cultural differences could start even before the student boards their flight to university. Perhaps it slowly begins the moment they enroll in an international school in their home country. The growth of international schools in India is accelerating at an exponential rate. Within the last five years, the number of international schools in India has grown by over 45%, while student enrollment has increased by over 70%. There are currently 469 international schools located throughout the country attended by 268,500 students aged between 3 and 18. (ISC Research)

international education

There is a decline in enrollment at India’s private schools as some students migrate to international schools, and several of India’s schools are moving from state examination boards (such as the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) to international boards (such as the IGCSE, the Cambridge International Examination, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program) to respond to the increasing demand for more globally-recognized education and qualifications. (ISC Research)

The local kids attending the international schools are crossing cultures on daily basis. Their home environment is likely culturally different from the school’s, but it is also the dominant culture of that land. So, outside of school, the cultural values of home are being reinforced. The question we are starting to hear more and more is: “How are these children being shaped and changed by the international culture?”

In one of our presentations in an international school in India we were asked by one of the locally hired Indian teachers: “So how many of these kids still feel Indian? And how do they get along with their parents and their expectations?

Where can we look to, for help to better understand these potential cultural differences in international education? How can we try to start to understand the feelings, emotions, and cultural challenges of the students embarking on this education journey along with the parents and families of these individuals? We can start by looking at Ruth E. Van Reken and her descriptions of CCKs.

A Cross- Cultural kid (CCK) is a person who is living in-or meaningful interacting with two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during developmental years.

Educational CCKs are: Children who attend a school with a different cultural base from the one they return to at home each night.

international education

(Ruth E. Van Reken, co-author, Third Culture Kids:Growing Up Among Worlds, 3rd edition, 2017)

These kids usually grow to be capable in areas like:

  • Cross-cultural skills
  • Observational skills
  • Social skills
  • Linguistic skills
  • Adaptability
  • Expanded Worldview, thinking “outside of the box“.
  • The potential of being less judgmental, less prejudice

All of these benefits will serve them in the future planned by the parents who enrolled them to this kind of international schools. But at the same time these kids also face some challenges that this lifestyle brings:

  • Might have complex identity or less strong typical feelings of national affiliation
  • Confused loyalties
  • Painful awareness of reality
  • Unsureness or ignorance of the home country culture,
  • Different sense of nationalism
  • Different integrated cultural identity
  • The potential to be rootless and restless

These challenges do not only impact the student themselves but their family around them. Parents, along with extended families in India can also experience challenges as their children exhibit culture norms very different from their own.

This generation, attending international schools in their home country, aiming for university in a different culture, and being technologically connected worldwide, are a “growing cultural complexity”; they are being shaped in ways previous generations never knew. But as long as they remain in India, the dominant culture likely keeps them more in tune with traditional values and a sense of identity so parents may not notice these early shifts.

When you made the decision of enrolling your children in an international education, you also make the decision that they will be influenced by other cultures; it is unavoidable. So how do parents build the base of values and all they want their kids to maintain anywhere?

Upon sharing our ideas with Ruth Van Reken, she expressed her enthusiasm for this area of CCK development, expressing, “You have just hit a brand new place in this whole discussion!”

In times of growth and change we should anticipate that this is only the beginning. There are dozens more questions that beg to be answered as hundreds of thousands of children and families in India and all over the world look towards international education and international universities as the way forward for their children and their future. The benefits of this road and journey are enormous. But, it is always better to embark on the journey with a clear idea of the obstacles and challenges that may arise.

International schools have the responsibility to be aware and educate their communities on the potential benefits along with the challenges. Parents of these children could benefit from being more aware of these challenges as their child’s journey begins and be better equipped to help their child and themselves navigate these challenges.

So let the conversation begin. We at Global Nomad’s World (GNW) will be happy to lead you through this exploration. We offer workshops for families and schools (including counselors and administrators) to help support this growing population that are dealing with this significant cross-cultural questions. The students and the families will benefit from being understood and we will offer tools to help them succeed on their journey.

How can your Cross-Cultural experiences be shared?

If you are a parent interested in these cross-cultural educational questions, please help us gather information by filling in this anonymous short survey

international education

Lisa and Daniela are the co- founders of Global Nomads World (GNW)

Lisa Murawsky is an International Educator, teaching in India and at Endicott College in America.

Daniela Tomer is an Israeli licensed Clinical Psychologist. She is a Mediator, Coach and Trainer and serves as FIGT- Families in Global Transition Program Chair, leading their global annual conference

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School Profile Searches

Using the School Profile Search feature on International School Community: Search Result #6

July 1, 2012


Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you.  The possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria.  There are many different kinds of schools: ones that are small in student numbers to ones that have more than 1200 students, ones that are for-profit to ones that are non-profit, ones that are in very large cities to ones that are in towns of only 1000 people, etc.  Each international school teacher has their own type of a school that best fits their needs as a teacher and a professional.  You personal life is also very important when you are trying to find the right match.  Most of us know what it is like to be working at a school that doesn’t fit your needs, so it’s best to find one that does!

Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search our 1232 schools (updated 01 July 2012) for the perfect school using up to 8 different criteria.  The 8 criteria are: Region of the world, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Country, Year Founded, Kinds of Students and Size of City.  You can do a school profile search in three different locations on our website: the homepage, the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page.  Past search results: Search Result #1 posted in December 2011, Search Result #2 posted in January 2012, Search Result #3 posted in March 2012, Search Result #4 posted on April 2012, and Search Result #5 posted in May 2012.

Search Result #6

Criteria chosen:

  1. Region of the world (Asia)
  2. Curriculum (All)
  3. School Nature (Non-profit)
  4. No. of students (All)
  5. Country (India)
  6. Year founded (0-15 ago)
  7. Kinds of students (All)
  8. Size of city (3m-10m)

Schools Found: 3

India – Sushilhari International Residential School (0 Comments)

India – The British International School Chennai (0 Comments)

India – Stonehill International School (India) (7 Comments)
Sample comment – “Teachers get a furnished apartment with back-up power, telephone/internet, with underground parking. There is an allowance for utilities.”

Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs?  Additionally, all premium members are able to access the more than 5334+ comments and information (updated 01 July 2012) that have been submitted on the hundreds of international school profiles on our website.

Join International School Community today and you will automatically get the ability to make unlimited searches to find the international schools that fit your criteria.

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School Profile Searches

Using the School Profile Search feature on International School Community: Search Result #5

May 30, 2012


Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you.  The possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria.  There are many different kinds of schools: ones that are small in student numbers to ones that have more than 1200 students, ones that are for-profit to ones that are non-profit, ones that are in very large cities to ones that are in towns of only 1000 people, etc.  Each international school teacher has their own type of a school that best fits their needs as a teacher and a professional.  You personal life is also very important when you are trying to find the right match.  Most of us know what it is like to be working at a school that doesn’t fit your needs, so it’s best to find one that does!

Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search our 1210 schools (updated 30 May 2012) for the perfect school using up to 8 different criteria.  The 8 criteria are: Region of the world, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Country, Year Founded, Kinds of Students and Size of City.  You can do a school profile search in three different locations on our website: the homepage, the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page.  Past search results: Search Result #1 posted in December 2011, Search Result #2 posted in January 2012, and Search Result #3 posted in March 2012, and Search Result #4 posted on April 2012.

Search Result #5

Criteria chosen:

  1. Region of the world (Eastern Europe)
  2. Curriculum (MYP)
  3. School Nature (Non-profit)
  4. No. of students (300-700)
  5. Country (All)
  6. Year founded (All)
  7. Kinds of students (All)
  8. Size of city (All)

Schools Found: 5

Azerbaijan – International School of Azerbaijan (12 Comments)
Czech Republic – 1st International School of Ostrava (0 Comments)
Georigia – New School International (Georgia) (3 Comments)
Romania – Mark Twain International School (0 Comments)
Ukraine – Pechersk School International (10 Comments)

Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs!  Additionally, all premium members are able to access the more than 4880+ comments and information (updated 30 May 2012) that have been submitted on the hundreds of international school profiles on our website.

Join International School Community today and you will automatically get the ability to make unlimited searches to find the international schools that fit your criteria.

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