As international educators, we are responsible not only for bringing the world into our classroom, but also the local community. On my visits to different campuses for professional development, I have witnessed many “expat” schools that do little to honor or acknowledge their host community. This is particularly crucial in developing countries, where well-funded international schools could do a lot to benefit communities. The following artifacts demonstrate two ways in which I’ve attempted to build a bridge between our school and the locality.
Artifact 1: Language Policy Review
As part of our upcoming accreditation, school leadership created teams to review our current language policy with regard to practice. All data was gathered through this survey. As the only expat on the team (and the team’s facilitator), I took the opportunity to ask many probing questions to local staff about attitudes surrounding language at our school. While many identified that Hindi is a language at our school, the school does not currently provide explicit opportunities for students who speak other regional languages (e.g., Marathi, Gujarati) to develop their proficiency. Together, we as a group were able to brainstorm multiple suggestions for administrators regarding how to be more inclusive of regional languages and culture.
Artifact 2: Adventurous Journey Plan
During my four-year tenure at my current school, Week Without Walls trips, one for Grade 8 and the other for Grade 11. Both trips include outdoor adventure components, and both times our students reflected that they really enjoy the outdoor experience and wished they could do these activities more than once per year. There is very little green space in Mumbai and the outdoor adventure sports industry is still fledgling. This year, I’m co-leading a pilot of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. I’m overseeing our planning for the Adventurous Journey, a component which requires students to train for a 2-day overnight expedition. By providing this opportunity, we’re hoping to better address the diverse and holistic leads of our learners. During the trip, students will also learn about conservation in India and how to minimize environmental impact. Our hope is that this next generation of environmentalists will someday help India to protect its resources and reduce pollution.