We are fortunate to have 35 different nationalities registered at JFK this academic year. It is an incredible source of diversity for our IB school. It gives our children the opportunity to be exposed to different cultures and to make friends from around the world.
But, are we really taking full advantage of this amazing opportunity? How truly internationalminded are we? There is more to international mindedness than just food, languages, and flags.
As defined by Dr. Chris Müller, an educator specializing in international education, international mindedness is:
A view of the world in which people see themselves connected to the global community and assume a sense of responsibility to its members. It is an awareness of the inter-relatedness of all nations and peoples, and a recognition of the complexity of these relationships. Internationally-minded people appreciate and value the diversity of cultures in the world and make an effort to learn more about them.
In other words, it is about being aware of who we are while striving to learn from others, so that together we can form a harmonious global community. International-mindedness starts by looking beyond the visible tip of the cultural iceberg. Culture is often represented as an iceberg with the observable part being the language, food, folklore, and other traditions while the nonvisible part represents the core values of the culture practiced in daily life, notions of right and wrong, family structure, religion, and much more.
Behaviors Words and actions which are apparent to the casual observer
E c o n o m i c s
Relig io n
Core Values Learned ideas of what is considered good or bad right or wrong desirable or undesirable acceptableorunacceptable
T h e m e d i a
So, how can we, as a community, have a closer look at the hidden parts of the cultural iceberg?
We can begin by being open-minded and taking some time to make meaningful connections with other families. Start by reaching out, not only to the new foreign students, but also to the ones who have been here longer. Ask them questions. Show interest in their stories, in their families, and in their celebrations. Then, we need to open ourselves up and welcome them into our circles. In turn, give them a closer look at who you are and what you believe. Together, compare and contrast cultures, beliefs, traditions, values, and consider debate with tolerance, respect, and understanding. For example, compare school systems, healthcare, status of elders in society, and what your religious practices are. These are good topics that provide a start for dialogue. This idea of an open exchange leads to a better understanding of the perspectives and world views of other cultures. It also helps to develop intercultural awareness and sensitivity.
F a m i l y
E d u c a t i o n a l s y s t e m s
By doing so, we will raise, “active, compassionate, lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right (IB Mission Statement, 2019).” Please consider welcoming different people into your lives. Your life will be fuller, richer, and much more interesting.