This seemingly simple question is profoundly deep. It is not simply about geography. It is who you are, as an individual—your values, your priorities and so much more. If you have been in international education for long, chances are that you struggle to answer this question, or preface your response with, “originally….”
As I began contemplating the question, I began considering, “How do I know who I am?” So being a slave to technology, I turned to Google. The very first result that popped up, was, “Find a therapist.” Really?! No! Perhaps a different approach is more useful.
Geert Hofstede, a well-known Dutch social psychologist, has spent much of his career investigating how culture is defined, how individuals fit into them and how the cultures we are exposed to affect us. His conclusion is that “Culture is not biological… [it] is learned.” (Hofstede)
International education epitomizes a unique culture of adventure, open-mindedness, adaptability and flexibility. This article focuses on how to capitalize on these traits to become even better educators and more well-rounded individuals.
“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.” Mahatma Gandhi. From the perspective of international educators, we understand that culture is not static, and that interaction, assimilation and accommodation keep the culture relevant and alive. Working in international education, we have opportunities to learn about and embrace the best of the cultures where we live and work. This gives rise to three questions: How can we harness these experiences to make us better teachers—better individuals? If we embrace new culture, does it fundamentally change who we are? Does assimilation of new cultural values, traditions, perspectives, etc., diminish the culture and geography of where we were born and raised?
How can we harness these experiences to make us better teachers—better individuals? Novelist and teacher, John Barnes advises, “… to learn a culture, you have to learn how to like what it likes, [not] go looking for something that you like.” Many of us as well as our students, both international and local, bring particular biases and stereotypes. By sharing our own experiences and asking our students to do the same, we can begin to build a new culture in our classrooms where diversity is something to be treasured. By creating a climate of curiosity rather than judgement, we are giving ourselves and our students, a gift that will enrich our lives.
Does the culture in which we live, fundamentally change who we are? In a word, yes—if we allow it. Is that a good thing? I would argue that there is most certainly a change, with tremendous potential to be a good thing. One of the most significant mistakes we could make is to close ourselves off from the culture that surrounds us. Be proactive. Learn the language. Learn about the traditions, the holidays, the beliefs, the food. Perhaps the change will affect our values and priorities, or perhaps we will find that the values and priorities of your host culture closely match our own.
Does assimilation of new cultural values, traditions, perspectives, etc., diminish the culture and geography of where we were born and raised? Absolutely not. International schools, by design, seek to highlight the diversity of the community. There will always be a part of us that will retain those characteristics, but it is the synthesis of all of our experiences that make us who we are. This synthesis is precisely why, for international educators, the question, “Where are you from?” creates a flurry of images and ideas, and rarely has a simple answer.
Think about your own experience. If you were to make a list of customs, foods, traditions, etc., that you miss from your home country and other countries where you have lived, which list would be longest? Does it change? We do “an ordinary job in extraordinary places.” (Sweat) Embrace the possibilities.
This article was submitted by guest author: John Brown.
(John has held both administrative and teaching positions for over 25 years, with the last ten being in international education. He is a well respected presenter at regional, national and international education and technology conferences as well as a consultant, who has helped set standards in teacher training and assessment, use of technology in the classroom, curriculum development and effective management practices. A graduate of Tarleton State University in Texas, USA, with graduate studies at North Texas State University and Texas Wesleyan School of Law, he is currently teaching IB Psychology and language acquisition and is the CAS Coordinator at an international school in Portugal. His current projects include development of an online tutoring system for Spanish, consulting on development of a National Language Policy for the United States, and research into the effects of early language learning on brain development. You can contact John at email@example.com.)
There are a few international schools to work at in United Arab Emirates! How do these schools stand out from each other?
How many international schools have done a sky-view overview of their school campus using a drone? Australian International School – Sharjah has!
Having an opportunity to see an aerial view of an international school really gives you a great idea of what life will be like in and around your future international school. Maybe all schools should consider doing this and then make sure to share that video when they are interviewing people to work with them.
The sunset scene of this video is truly beautiful, and look at all those beautiful trees on the campus!
Hopefully you are not actually leaving school at this time (assuming the sunset stays pretty similar throughout the year at around 18h or so), but if you were to, then it would indeed be a nice ride home.
This video is reminiscent of a blog series we have called, “The Journey to School.” In this blog series we get firsthand accounts of what it is like to travel both to and from various international schools from around the world.
Living in the Middle East does sound very enticing. For one, the sun will most likely be out almost every day of the year. The summer will be quite hot, but the winter won’t be too cool. It is important to note though that there appears to be some overcast can be see in the video, and it might be because of pollution and not clouds!
However, desert life can indeed be quite nice for many of us. The adventures of exploring the desert and its sand dunes are not too far away. Many of city’s buildings are constructed using traditional Arabic architecture with wind towers and finishes in colors reflective of the nearby desert and sea.
There are also lots of beaches, theme parks and movie theaters in nearby Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 76 international schools listed in United Arab Emirates. Here are a just a few of them (the number of total comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link):
• Al Mizhar American Academy (Dubai) – 54 Comments
• Abu Dhabi International Private School (Abu Dhabi) – 43 Comments
• American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi) – 68 Comments
• American School of Dubai (Dubai) – 98 Comments
• Jumeira Baccalaureate School (Dubai) – 104 Comments
• Raffles International School (South) (Dubai) – 59 Comments
• RAK Academy (Ras Al Khaimah) – 56 Comments
If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in United Arab Emirates, log-on today and submit your own comments and information. Become a Mayor of one of these schools and you will receive unlimited premium access to International School Community for free!continue reading
There are a few international schools to work at in Montevideo! How do these schools stand out from each other?
How many international schools can boast about being over 100 years old? According to the international schools listed on our website, there are 33 international schools with a founding year of before 1900.
So how great this school in Uruguay put together a tribute video to the history of their school.
Looking at all the old pictures really gives a good glimpse into their past students, the past school grounds, and the past staff that has worked there over the years.
It is hard to imagine what life as an international school teacher was like back then. How did that school find the teachers to work there? Were they hired locally or from abroad? Did they move their stuff and themselves by ship from the USA or England (or ???)?
In parts of the video, it seems like there was maybe a separation being the boys and girls at one point. It could be that they had different sections of the school for different genders. Also, it appears as if sports and competitions are/were an important part of this school’s programme.
Looking at all the people in the video, it reminds us that working at an international school is truly working as part of a family. And not just the current family, but the past family too. If you are lucky to get a job at an international school, you are a part of that school’s history forever. It is great how an international school starts something one year, and then it continues year after year becoming a tradition; which makes each international school a unique and interesting place to work.
Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 93 international schools listed in South America. Here are a just a few of them (the number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link):
• Colegio Panamericano (Bucaramanga, Colombia) – 34 Comments
• Colegio Granadino Manizales (Manizales, Colombia) – 43 Comments
• Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito (Quito, Ecuador) – 31 Comments
• American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments
• Uruguayan American School (Montevideo, Uruguay) – 32 Comments
• Colegio International de Carabobo (Carabobo, Venezuela) – 21 Comments
• Escuela Las Morochas (Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela) – 28 Comments
If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in South America, log-on today and submit your own comments and information. Become a Mayor of one of these schools and you will receive unlimited premium access to International School Community for free!continue reading
There are a few international schools to work at in Bogota! How do these schools stand out from each other?
The campus looks very nicely taken care of, lots of plants and trees and grass!
Nice to have a code of conduct. Hopefully all students are well aware of it and act on it.
It appears as if they have some cross-grade level lessons, where older students are working with the younger students. Always a great learning experience for both students involved.
Interesting how they highlight the other Knightsbridge international schools. I wonder what type of (if any) collaboration is done between all their schools.
Well the languages part didn’t really highlight so many. I think I heard Spanish, English and French.
The after school activities that they showed in the video seemed a bit basic.
So many girls that were in the video, hardly any boys were filmed. At one point I thought it might be a all-girls campus.
Love the ending when the boy was holding the spinning globe. Great idea!
Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 7 international schools listed in Bogota. Here are a just a few of them (The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link):
• Colegio Anglo Colombiano (17 Comments)
• Colegio Gran Bretana (3 Comments)
• Colegio Los Nogales Bogota (6 Comments)
• Colegio Nueva Granada (15 Comments)
• International School of Bogota (0 Comments)
• Knightsbridge Schools International (Bogota) (0 Comments)
• The English School (6 Comments)
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There are a few international schools to work at in Singapore! How do these schools stand out from each other?
Super school?? I didn’t realize those existed. Virtual golfing, a celebrity chef, a stock trading room floor, etc… Wow!
Nice to have so much technology, but I guess the downside is that after a few years, you will need to have it in the budget to get upgrades on everything as technology super fast.
A 300,000,000 USD campus! I wonder how this number relates to how much it cost to build other international schools throughout the world.
They seemed to be at the forefront of bilingual education as well, with having Chinese lessons in kindergarten….by non-native speakers as it looks like in the video.
A macbook pro for every student…did I hear that correctly? How many international schools have 1:1 programmes I wonder?
I love the conference room where they can have/facilitate Skype calls from all over the world.
How awesome that they have such an elaborate security system. Gotta protect all that advanced technology!
25000 AUD to go there as a student, every year! A high price tag that’s for sure!
Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 20 international schools listed in Singapore. Here are a just a few of them (The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link):
• ACS (International) Singapore (10 Comments)
• Canadian International School (Singapore) (9 Comments)
• Chatsworth International School (6 Comments)
• EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (30 Comments)
• International School Singapore (17 Comments)
• One World International School (16 Comments)
• Overseas Family School Singapore (16 Comments)
• Singapore American School (11 Comments)
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