The International School experience is the reason that I am passionate about education, and where I hold the hope of our fragile planet’s future. Knowing that well-educated, impassioned, and well-rounded kids are dotted all over the globe and making waves in their respective fields is incredible and reassuring. It opened my eyes to the world, and gave me a sense of purpose for my future. I sometimes think what would have happened if I’d stayed in local education in either Europe or Asia, and I know for certain that I wouldn’t be the person I am today, hadn’t it been for my education.
Some people cite classism and capitalism when speaking of International Schools. Undeniably, most of my friends hailed from the more well-off parts of society. But until the proletariat overthrows our current world system, I say we need to keep investing in education and experimenting with bringing the best of our young minds to the forefront during their formative years (Yes, we read the Manifesto in the tenth grade).
With the paradigm shift of education being a governmental responsibility (I’m not going to go in to political specifics here) to being a business, we need to be increasingly aware of how we are portraying ourselves as an organisation in order to both attract and display our best attributes and how we are making a difference in the lives of people everywhere. Are you teaching your students to be global citizens? Are you using new technologies to enhance the classroom experience? Your potential clients want to know. What’s more: your branding. Social media is a place where you connect with people, even people that are physically there with you. Social media is how you create an online community that allows for a different dynamic to your physical relationship. This means that as an international school, you are not only sending out these positive messages to potential future students, but your students now. They are proud of their school, they know what is expected of them, and they know how to act as ambassadors for your school even outside the school grounds, and this is where social media will come in to play. Your social media presence is going to determine who you are as a school, because make no mistake, people will judge you for it!
I can say all of this with a sense of authority because… well, my International School came from very humble beginnings. With just a couple dozen students on their register spanning K – 12, and using the basement of a public facility, this was our humble beginning. I didn’t join until the third campus we’d found within two decades. But due to several factors, including a burgeoning expat scene in my hometown and an influx of locals who had their kids in the states due to their social status, we started growing. There was a joke at the international school tournaments that would be made at our expense– we were the Nobody School. Losers that had no other choice came here. But boy, did we prove them wrong. Now, eight years after my own graduation, we are one of the most coveted schools in the SE Asia region. What a transformation!
Let me now speak to the parents, and also the educators around the world. My International School experience, albeit being in a ‘loser school’, put me ahead in so many ways, it would be rude to count. I was, and remain, ahead of a lot of people in my current community because of the training that I was lucky enough to get from my high school. I am organised, I can churn out essays and letters in any style you like. I can write you 800, 1500, or even 2500 words overnight. I am well spoken, I have neat manners, and I can easily adapt to any situation. You try taking an Advanced Placement English class with your fellow seniors only to spend the next two hours with freshmen in their Physics class because you never liked the sciences! You try and run a shaved ice booth at the community fun fair, hosted on your school’s soccer field, and figure out if you made a profit for your Model UN club to go to Beijing to attend a conference! At said Model UN conference, try speaking in front of 800 people! It’s been a fantastic roller coaster ride and I want other people to love it as much as I did; and with the advent of technologies we have today, I’m sure that people will get even more out of it than I did! And that’s exciting!
Here’s to the future, and here’s to the future of education!