Frohe Weihnachten – Merry Christmas

Head of School

As we come to the holiday season and we find ourselves nearly halfway through another academic year, it provides us with an opportunity to pause for reflection about what the past months have brought and what lies ahead. And just when we thought we might begin to leave some pandemic-related obstacles behind … like a wave, they keep coming back.

Throughout 2021, parents and teachers have again maintained an even and steady tone as role models during this pandemic. Like always, we set the tone and in doing this our actions influence and sustain the children in our care.

I was recently reflecting on an article from Kevin Ruth, the former Executive Director of Educational Collaborative International Schools (ECIS). In it, he reminded us that we are living in a complex world, one that encompasses a great deal of “discord and hate” and as I sit and take the time to reflect on Kevin´s words in light of everything that has happened, I am struck by at least three global issues, or, as I would rather call them: challenges, that I feel are generational in nature, namely:

  • How we have all had to rewire and re-think in light of the current global pandemic
  • the search for peace within conflict
  • an ongoing search for environmental sustainability

When faced with such broad, global and complex challenges, it seems very difficult to know where to start in order to meet or address these challenges. Clearly in education, and most specifically in international education, where all races, creeds and religions are represented, it is up to us to ensure that we are contributing to a response that addresses these challenges. In doing so we are re-assessing the purpose of education and getting to understand that one of the key ingredients must be to creatively and imaginatively meet these current and future needs and challenges. As Kevin Ruth noted, “To be sure, we want those leaving our schools as young adults to influence the world by making decisions with moral direction”.

As I reflect on whether it will ever be possible to make a difference on a practical level and day-to-day basis? I am heartened as I walk the corridors of the FIS and despite the restrictions, see what is going on in classrooms, and reflect on curricula and programs led by the work of our faculty and staff. They work on the deliberate inclusion of these issues and students are challenged to examine different perspectives and intentions; different actions and different outcomes in order to be able to develop creative and sustainable options and potential solutions to these global challenges.

This recognition of micro-moments reminds us that

  • our intentions need to be ethical and noble in nature
  • our actions need to be positive and constructive
  • our outcomes need to make a difference

Some recent micro-moments included our Early Years students looking at their sense of place in the world, Christmas in a Shoebox service learning project, our PTO putting up festive decorations late week, Primary School virtual assemblies, Girls Coding Challenge, Bebras Computing Challenge, our debating group, Student lead Anti-Bullying Week, Grade 11 starting the Extended Essay process, GISTT sports, Music recitals and virtual parent information sessions that epitomize the three elements of micro-moments listed above in a collaborative and authentic way.

Eleanor Roosevelt, when speaking about human rights, stated that “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

This is the same at the FIS, where we relish these micro-moments that are part of our deliberate and core aim to promote a whole child and inclusive approach, fostering student participation and encouraging new challenges. It is not only about academics but more, much more. Our experiential and service-learning opportunities epitomized this and really showed all elements of our community coming together. This is the culmination of a great deal of hard work and engagement, by both students, parents and teachers, and not only demonstrates individual skill and progression but an opportunity to learn collaboratively. There are many, many more such micro-moments and I am heartened by these opportunities to recognize and challenge unkindness, resolve conflict, and nurture kindness and empathy in daily interactions. I encourage you as families to explore your own micro-moments over the festive season.

We wish all members of our FIS community a safe, happy and healthy holiday and I look forward to seeing you all in 2022.

Frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr.
“Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain Faoi Mhaise”

Liam Browne
Head of School

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