Globalism may be alive and well in Singapore, but changing political winds in other countries show that not everyone is as excited about it (or benefitting at the same rate). A rise in nationalism in the US, UK and other parts of Europe is affecting perceptions of a global population in ways many did not predict 10 years ago. So it begs the question – is the idea of raising “global students” as relevant today as it was a decade ago?
Definitely yes, says KELLY SOMERVILLE, Head of Inclusion at Australian International School.
Global students are as important as ever
“Immersing children in an international community is an incredible opportunity for them,” says Kelly. “It allows them to view the world through different lenses. It teaches them to appreciate diverse cultures. They also learn to respect and appreciate people who are different from them.”
Kelly says AIS and its family community are big supporters of internationalism. She believes children flourish by being challenged by different ways of thinking and living. Students are encouraged to learn from each other.
“AIS is an International Baccalaureate World School. We develop creative, caring young people who want a more peaceful world. Intercultural understanding and respect are a big part of becoming a global student of tomorrow,” she says.
Diversity is still embraced and celebrated
World politics aside, Kelly says AIS remains an inclusive school that embraces diversity. Students are taught to build relationships based on mutual respect, trust, acceptance and care. This begins in the Early Years programme with children aged 18 months to four years old. This programme is taught completely in English at the school’s Early Learning Village. Here, students have access to subjects where English language is not the focus, such as physical education, art, music and Mandarin.
Kelly says students of all nationalities and mother tongues are welcome. “At AIS, we believe that students whose first language is not English are an asset in our school. They bring unique gifts and skills to our school. We believe all learners have the right to participate fully in our school environment.”
Before you move abroad, do your research
For newcomers to Singapore – or anyone new to a diverse community, for that matter – Kelly suggests gathering as much information as possible about your soon-to-be home. Depending on the age of your kids, involve them in the research process. Carefully look into your school options. See what options they have to develop true global students. Request information about the student population and nationality makeup. And don’t wait until you’ve moved; absorb new cultures before you arrive. Doing so can help everyone settle quicker. Kelly suggests reading books and watching documentaries about new beliefs and cultures before you arrive.
Newcomers often need additional support to adjust to a new school. To support kids and their parents, AIS offers:
- The AIS Parents Association (AISPA), which is available from the moment your child enrols
- A Parent Country Ambassador volunteer programme, which pairs new students with a child from their home country
- “Friends of AISPA”, or designated students who act as in-class support for new children
- The red-ribbon and buddy systems, which offer additional social support to find friends
- School counsellors who check on new students during their first weeks of school, and
- Academic support such as Learning Enrichment and English as Additional Language
To find out more how AIS develop global students, request a school tour here.