International learning and learning to be international - GSO

International learning and learning to be international

I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.

Mahatma Gandhi

Parents may ask themselves: what is the horizon for my children, where do they find and celebrate their identity, what inspires them in our world, which at times seems so difficult to navigate?

I have found many answers during my rewarding years as a teacher and educator in international schools, as well as in my role as a parent of truly internationally-minded children. 

What makes your child an “Italian” or “Peruvian,” a local from Treviso province or a town in Sicily or, as increasing numbers of young people today find, a person with “multi-local” roots (Taye Selassi’s TED talk is a wonderful example)?

International mindedness starts with self-awareness, with understanding your own culture more deeply by appreciating the cultures of others, becoming conscious of the different cultural lenses with which others perceive the world.

International learning and learning to be international is at the core of international schools. A fellow school director of a bi-lingual school in Japan has expressed it well:

At the heart of international- mindedness is a frame of mind – a curiosity about the world, an openness towards things ‘other’ and a profound appreciation of the complexity of our world and our relationships to each other.  You don’t have to be in an international context to develop this kind of mind-set.

A few years ago, The Journal of International Education analyzed what factors motivate parents to consider international schools for their children. This particular study involved parents in Switzerland, Japan, Argentina, Israel and Singapore, but they point to what is important to parents everywhere. The following were most prominent and we are confident that our school GSO will fully meet these expectations:

  1. Achieving fluency in English and other languages
  2. International curriculum and high academic standards
  3. International-mindedness (parents in Japan called it “being open to the world”)
  4. Small classes with much individual attention and a caring environment
  5. An internationally recognized and valued diploma for graduates
  6. Excellent preparation for university studies abroad

Cross-cultural competencies are increasingly in demand in education, as well as in society and at work. We all have many global connections and encounter different cultural norms for communication, negotiation, meeting styles, resolving conflict, showing leadership. International schools support the skills and attitudes for gaining critical cultural awareness. Living together, sharing ideas, interests and talents with students from different cultures is a very powerful way of broadening cultural awareness.

This is especially true in a boarding school such as GSO with strong links to the host community.


Walther Hetzer

Senior Education Consultant