Does the level of diversity matter when choosing an international school?

Diversity of the student population is key to making the experience truly international for both staff and students.

选择国际学校时,多样性的程度重要吗?

学生群体的多样性是使教职员工和学生体验真正国际化的关键。

Written by Leigha Francis (UWCT 2020 Graduate)

It is a fact—not all international schools are the same. Around the world, international schools come in many different shapes and sizes, with a wide variety of learning approaches and curricula. 

这是一个事实——不是所有的国际学校都是一样的。在世界各地,国际学校有许多不同的形式和规模,有各种各样的学习方法和课程。

International schools came into being as the world was becoming more globally oriented, and a need arose for expatriates working in multinational companies overseas, as well as diplomats, UN and EU staff to have their children educated in systems compatible with those of their home countries. The idea was to provide the families, and especially the children, a form of stability; knowing that the principles, teaching, and curriculum will be similar wherever they go, and that the transition from one “home” to another will have one less source of complication. 

随着世界变得更加全球化,国际学校应运而生,在海外跨国公司工作的外籍人士,以及外交官、联合国和欧盟工作人员需要让他们的孩子在与其祖国相兼容的体系中接受教育。这个想法是为了给家庭,尤其是孩子们,提供一种稳定的形式;意识到无论他们走到哪里,行为准则、教学和课程都是相似的,从一个“家”到另一个“家”的过渡将变得不那么复杂。

These schools were “market-driven”, providing a national programme of education in an international setting, usually British or American, for example, the American School in Dubai. Since then, other, “ideology-driven” options have emerged. These options seem to promote a global mission which fits more with the “ideal” of an international school. This type of international school promotes diversity and fosters a global outlook that is not tied to a particular culture or education system. To better prepare students to live and work in an increasingly globalized world, these international schools aim to grant them intercultural understanding and appreciation, an awareness of global issues and an international mind-set. Many of them have also opted for the International Baccalaureate, as it fits well with their overall mission of international mindedness.

这些学校是“市场驱动的”,在国际背景下提供国家教育项目,通常是英国或美国的,例如,迪拜的美国学校。从那时起,其他“意识形态驱动”的选择出现了。这些选择似乎促进了更符合国际学校“理想”的全球使命。这种类型的国际学校促进多样性,培养不受特定文化或教育体系束缚的全球视野。为了让学生在日益全球化的世界中更好地生活和工作,这些国际学校旨在让他们理解和欣赏跨文化,了解全球问题和国际思维模式。他们中的许多人也选择了国际文凭课程(IB),因为这与他们的国际意识的总体使命非常契合。

That being said, not all international schools are equal; some schools will just adopt the name or description to attract parents, conjuring up images of exoticism and high hopes for university, while only offering a superficial experience of international education. Many “international schools” will flaunt the concept of being international, but not actually strive for teacher, student or curricular diversity. These institutions end up being diverse by default, not by design.

话虽如此,并非所有的国际学校都是一样的;有些学校只是通过名字或描述来吸引家长,让人产生异国情调的遐想及对大学寄予厚望,而只提供肤浅的国际教育体验。许多“国际学校”会标榜国际化的概念,但实际上并没有争取教师、学生或课程的多样性。这些机构最终会在默认情况下变得多样化,而不是在设计上。

Upon speaking with a graduate of an American international IB school in Jamaica, she explained that the concept of diversity did not seem to be weaved into the fabric of the curriculum, and did not feel the international experience, even being an “international school student”. She felt her school lacked opportunities for the students to showcase their cultures and capabilities as a community; mainly focusing on Jamaican and American celebrations and topical issues as opposed to learning about and accommodating other cultures and nationalities.  

在与牙买加一所美国国际IB学校的毕业生交谈时,她解释说,多元化的概念似乎并没有融入课程的结构中,即使是作为一名“国际学校学生”,她也没有感受到国际化体验。她觉得她的学校缺乏机会让学生展示他们作为一个团体的文化和能力;主要关注牙买加和美国的庆祝活动和热点问题,而不是学习和适应其他文化和民族。

If you contrast this with Kajonkiet International School Phuket (KISP) — also an IB school — in Thailand, though they could also be considered to be diverse by default, students there feel diversity weaves its way into classroom discussions and school celebrations acknowledge diversity simply because of the multitude of nationalities. 

如果你将其与泰国普吉岛国际学校(KISP)——IB学校进行对比,尽管它们在默认情况下都被认为是多样化的,但那里的学生感到多样化融入了课堂讨论,学校庆祝活动也承认多样化的存在,仅仅因为这里有众多的民族。

That said, always check and see where the international school you are investigating falls on the pragmatic/ideological spectrum to guarantee that it seeks to prepare young people for adult life as responsible and capable international citizens in a globalized world. Consider the school’s governance structure, the international focus of the curriculum and whether it is internationally recognised. Often international schools are accredited by the host country’s Ministry of Education.

也就是说,要经常检查和查看你所调查的国际学校是否符合实用主义/意识形态的范围,以确保它试图让年轻人为成年后在全球化的世界中成为负责任和有能力的国际公民作准备。考虑学校的管理结构、课程的国际重点以及它是否得到国际认可。国际学校通常是由东道国的教育部认证的。

So what’s in a name? 

那么名字有什么意义呢?

Imagine this: A teenage girl walks into a boarding school fair. She’s in her fourth year of high school and is looking to take the next step towards her future. As she stops at various stalls, introduces herself and her interests, and takes a look at the school’s brochure. Her teacher, who has been supervising the students, notices that she has only one brochure after stopping at almost 20 booths, and leaves quite abruptly. “Why?” the teacher asks.

“If there is not more than one coloured person — coloured meaning anything but white American — then I don’t want to go there. I’m not going to college to be the token black girl they put on brochures to show “diversity” when in reality I’m treated like the class pet! That’s not diversity ma’am.”

想象一下:一个十几岁的女孩走进一个寄宿学校博览会。她现在高中四年级,正朝着她的未来迈出下一步。她在各个摊位前停了下来,介绍了自己和自己的兴趣,并看了学校的宣传册。她的老师一直在指导学生们,注意到她在近20个摊位逗留过后,很突然地离开了,手里只拿了一本册子。“为什么?”老师问。

“如果世界上只有一个有色人种——有色人种指的是除了美国白人以外的任何东西——那么我不想去那里。我上大学不是为了做宣传册上的那种象征性的黑人女孩来展示“多样性”,而在现实中,我被当作班级宠物对待!这不是多样性,女士。”


But what is?

但什么才是(多样性)呢?

According to the Cambridge English dictionary, diversity is defined as “the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something”.

根据剑桥英语词典,多样性被定义为“许多不同类型的事物或人被包含在某一事物中的事实”。

Most international schools promote and embody diversity in its truest sense; celebrating differences in culture, ethnicity, race, language, socio-economic status, religion and more, as well as engendering acceptance and respect. This is what sets ideology-driven schools above and apart, as places where students experience and understand that each individual is unique. These schools allow the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. International schools like these help students to move beyond simple tolerance to embrace and celebrate the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

大多数国际学校在其真正意义上提倡和体现多样性;颂扬文化、种族、种族、语言、社会经济地位、宗教等方面的差异,并获得性别认同和尊重。正是因为如此,意识形态驱动的学校才得以脱颖而出,成为学生体验和理解每个人都是独一无二的地方。这些学校允许在一个安全、积极和有益的环境中探索这些差异。像这样的国际学校帮助学生跨越简单的宽容,去拥抱和颂扬每个人身上的丰富的多样性。

This is because diversity is acknowledged in the classroom and in all extra-curricular settings. 

Students of ideologically based international schools learn the fundamental lesson that everyone should be treated with respect and that the acceptance of diversity should be promoted in daily life. Diversity is an important factor which helps to eliminate the lack of cohesion between races, sexes, and cultures; caused by mistrust, stereotyping, and language barriers. Bullying is also eliminated, because, with diversity, differences are taught to be celebrated, not mocked.

Students, therefore, emerge as protectors of diversity in their life journeys, promoting caring and freedom from prejudice, equity, synergy and mutual respect. As the world becomes increasingly more diverse and multicultural, equipping young people to be inclusive and culturally understanding is key. Diversity drives creativity and innovation, and the following quotes reflect how different people define it – as each person sees the world from a different perspective:

这是因为多样性在课堂和所有课外活动中都得到认可。以意识形态为基础的国际学校的学生学到的基本教训是,每个人都应该受到尊重,在日常生活中应该促进对多样性的接受。多样性是一个重要的因素,有助于消除由不信任、刻板印象和语言障碍造成的种族、性别和文化之间凝聚力缺失。霸凌也被消除了,因为有了多样性,人们教导要赞美差异,而不是嘲笑差异。

因此,学生在他们的人生旅途中成为多样性的保护者,促进关爱、远离偏见、公平、协作和相互尊重。随着世界变得越来越多样化和多元文化的,让年轻人具备包容性和文化理解能力是关键。多样性驱动着创造力和创新,下面的名言反映了不同的人对多样性的定义——因为每个人都从不同的角度看世界:

Lorenzo Davidson was born and raised in Italy until he was 10 years old, then moved to Wisconsin, then just outside of Philadelphia, and now lives in Vancouver, Canada. Two years ago, he moved to Phuket to complete the IBDP at UWC Thailand and defines diversity as “valuing everyone’s opinions, beliefs and ideas and accepting all cultures, religions and groups. I think it’s extremely important to be open to others and instead of shutting them down because of their differences, we should build upon those differences and work together. Because the world is so complex and the problems we face are so intricate, we need all cultures, however small and seemingly insignificant, to share their perspectives and work together to solve them”.

洛伦佐•戴维森(Lorenzo Davidson) 10岁前在意大利出生和长大,后来搬到威斯康星州,当时就在费城附近,现在住在加拿大温哥华。两年前,他来到普吉岛参加泰国UWC的IBDP课程,并将多样性定义为“重视每个人的观点、信仰和想法,并接受所有的文化、宗教和群体。”我认为对他人开放是非常重要的,而不是因为他们的分歧而拒绝他们,我们应该在这些分歧的基础上共同努力。因为世界如此复杂,我们面临的问题如此错综复杂,我们需要所有的文化,无论多么渺小或看似微不足道,分享他们的观点,共同努力来解决它们。”

Thimali, a Sri Lankan, who has lived and studied at international schools in the UAE and Thailand, and will begin University at Yale-NUS in Singapore next month describes diversity as “a constant state of motion, this perpetual ‘tug of war’ of sorts in your head — intentionally letting your ideals, aspirations and life choices be shaped by the experiences of those around you, as well as by your ever-growing inner reflections. It is perpetual because experiences are infinite, and I think true diversity will allow any one person to understand and analyze infinite human experiences”.

斯里兰卡人蒂马里曾在阿联酋和泰国的国际学校生活和学习,将于下月在新加坡耶鲁大学(Yale NUS)开学,并将多样性描述为“一种持续不断的运动状态,这种在你头脑中持续不断的‘拔河’——有意地让你的理想、抱负和生活选择由你周围人的经历以及你不断增长的内心反思塑造。这种状态是永恒的,因为经历是无限的,我认为真正的多样性将允许任何一个人“理解和分析无限的人类经验”。

As seen from these students’ perspectives, the diversity promoted by ideologically driven international schools allows each student to embrace and appreciate their own culture and country, and also to understand other perspectives, as well as the larger goal of world peace.

从这些学生的角度来看,意识形态驱动的国际学校促进的多样性,让每个学生都能接受和欣赏自己的文化和国家,也能理解其他的观点,以及世界和平的大目标。

Diversity is an awesome way for students to explore their inner curiosities. It not only allows them to live outside their comfort zones, but also to enhance their learning. Through diversity, students experience the lack of privilege that comes with being a minority. This destabilizing experience then creates an authentic opportunity for reflection. For example, racism is an issue that has been ingrained in our society for centuries, due to post-colonialist mindsets and white privilege, protests have arisen all over the world to fight for justice, educate the public and state that all lives don’t matter unless black lives do. 

多样性是学生探索内心好奇心的绝佳方式。这不仅能让他们走出自己的舒适区,还能提高他们的学习能力。通过多样性,学生们体会到作为少数族裔所享有的特权的匮乏。这种不稳定的体验创造了一个真正的反思机会。例如,种族主义是一个已经在我们社会中根深蒂固了几个世纪的问题,由于后殖民主义思维和白人特权,世界各地都爆发了抗议活动,为正义而战,教育公众和国家,所有的生命都不重要,除了黑人的生命。

Studies show that students work better in a diverse environment, enabling them to concentrate and push themselves further when there are people of other backgrounds working alongside them. An international school offers a chance to be able to become more independent, for youth to think for themselves, and if their parents taught them to hate a specific ethnic group or condemn a specific sexual orientation, to question” why?” , and to be able to deconstruct the narrative themselves.  

研究表明,学生在多元化的环境中工作得更好,当有其他背景的人与他们一起工作时,他们能够集中精力,进一步鞭策自己。国际学校提供了一个机会,让他们能够变得更加独立,让年轻人独立思考,如果他们的父母教他们憎恨某个特定的种族群体或谴责某个特定的性取向,他们就会质疑“为什么?”,并能够解构故事本身。

Diversity promotes creativity, as well as better education. Those with differing viewpoints are able to collaborate to create solutions. Promoting diversity in staffing also enables students from different backgrounds to identify with teachers who are also like them, thereby enhancing their trust in a learning environment.

多样性促进创造力,也促进更好的教育。那些拥有不同观点的人能够协作创建解决方案。促进人员配备的多样性也可以使来自不同背景的学生认同与他们相似的教师,从而增强他们在学习环境中的信任。

Sanaa Wong, from the island of Jamaica, attended high school there before attending United World College Changshu China. She believes diversity “means a lot especially to any minority group. For example, it’s the fact that I can now turn on a TV show and see a black girl; someone who looks like me, as up to five years ago even, that wasn’t so. I think diversity is also more than just skin colour but also background, socio-economic status and thought — it allows for a wide range of conversations. Going to a school with the maximum amount of diversity there is, you get to see world issues and political issues from many different perspectives and are able to have conversations that go beyond just what you know or think you know”.

来自牙买加岛的沙娜·王(Sanaa Wong)在进入中国常熟联合世界学院之前在那里上过高中。她认为多样性“意义重大,尤其是对任何少数族裔群体而言。例如,我现在可以打开电视看到一个黑人女孩;一个看起来像我的人,但在五年前,就不是这样了。我认为多样性也不仅仅是肤色,还包括背景、社会经济地位和思想——它允许广泛的对话。去一所多元化程度高的学校,你可以从许多不同的角度看待世界问题和政治问题,并且能够超越你所知道或自以为知道的对话。”

Students then become more tolerant and understanding of differences and other perspectives, and appreciate the very differences that varied languages and cultures bring. This also allows students to understand their level of privilege in general and in their own country. With the “new world” order emerging with the COVID-19 pandemic as xenophobia is addressed and as racism is highlighted and condemned worldwide, international school students are better equipped to encounter them in the adult world and create an inclusive community. 

学生们会变得更加宽容和理解差异及其他观点,并欣赏不同的语言和文化带来的差异。这也让学生了解他们在自己国家的一般特权水平。随着新冠肺炎大流行带来的“新世界”秩序的出现,仇外心理得到了解决,种族主义在世界范围内突出强调并受到谴责,国际学校学生在成人世界中更有能力应对这些问题,并创建一个包容的社区。

Testimonials

As a graduate of United World College Thailand, which I consider an ideology-driven international school, I can confirm that diversity can be a reality because I experienced it. It allows students to internalize and understand the need for world peace, environmental responsibility, and sustainable development; and, to not be afraid to advocate for them.

作为泰国联合世界学院(United World College Thailand)的毕业生,我认为这是一所意识形态驱动的国际学校,我可以肯定,多样性可以成为现实,因为我经历过。它允许学生内化和理解世界和平、环境责任和可持续发展的需要;而且,不要害怕为他们辩护。

I experienced diversity, not just in the school population, but the very structure of the school’s organization, from the menu in the canteen, to the types of school projects, the holidays celebrated (Pride, Diwali etc.), the activities, even the visitors and presentations.

我体验到了多样性,不仅在学校的人数中,而且在学校的组织结构中,从食堂的菜单,到学校项目的类型,庆祝的节日(骄傲节、排灯节等),活动,甚至是来访者和演讲。

If all schools truly embraced and promoted diversity we would be moving closer to peace, tolerance and acceptance. Perhaps international schools should be the norm across educational systems and should be the way of the future, in order to ensure the future of our planet?

如果所有的学校都真正接受和推动多样性,我们就会更接近和平、宽容与接纳。也许国际学校应该成为整个教育系统的规范,应该成为未来的方向,以确保我们星球的未来?

Societies continue to become more diverse due to increased cross-border mobility, less-rigid gender roles, improved living standards and more! Because of that, it’s looking like ideology-driven international schools will continue to be in high demand, which goes to show that “diversity” — as well as “variety” — are the spice of life!

由于跨境流动的增加、性别角色不那么刻板、生活水平的提高等等,社会继续变得更加多样化!正因为如此,看起来受意识形态驱动的国际学校将继续成为高需求,这表明“多元化”——以及“多样性”——是生活的调味品!

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