Not my photo of Kobe
Something we rarely talk about on here is our work life and the international-ness of it. I guess it's become the only way we know after nearly 5 years of living overseas and teaching in international schools. After a while, you forget to notice that people are from different cultures, or that you just might stick out a bit.
A few weeks back, my school sent me and 4 co-workers to Kobe for a 3-day language arts conference. Our school uses the International Baccalaureate Organization's Primary Years Programme, a world renown curriculum that focuses on inquiry based instruction and global responsibility. The program is used in hundreds of schools in developing and advanced countries. The conference was a meeting of educators who work in countries across Asia but hail from around the world--New Zealand, China, South Africa, Australia, Canada, America, Holland, Germany, and many more. I didn't think much of it at first, but as the conference progressed, I was struck by the notion that so many people, with vastly different experiences and depths of knowledge, can come together in one room to talk about the best way to educate the world's children.
As the economy has changed around the world, so too, has the makeup of our school. International schools are usually know for diverse populations, but as companies seem to be reducing their number of overseas workers, the enrollment of our schools change. In prosperous times, our school is widely diverse. In times of economic uncertainty, our school accepts greater numbers of Japanese and Korean students to keep the numbers steady. But even with the changing enrollment, my class of 24 students still represents 13 countries including Botswana, Pakistan, India, Finland, Italy, Norway, Germany and South Korea. The girls are amazing in their willingness to accept each other, similarities and differences included, with open arms. One of my little girls wrote recently in her journal about our newest student who arrived from Thailand: "Emmi seemed a bit shy at first. My goal is to make her feel welcome at Seisen. I will talk to her to make her feel comfortable. And I can collect more information about her culture." Was anyone else thinking like this as a seven year old? Wow.
Anyway, that's all I really have to say about that. We feel pretty blown away sometimes.