International-Mindedness in the Current Climate

Sometimes a definition is too small and does not fully encompass the concept it aims to embrace. I feel this is the case with international-mindedness. International educators recognize the importance of international-mindedness. However, it has been particularly hard for educators to pin down exactly what it is and what its development actually entails. In international schools, international-mindedness can be seen simply as a celebration; whether it’s food, flags, and fashion or the celebration of a “big event”.

These celebrations undoubtedly lead to meaningful connections and conversations. However, such an approach can suffer from the “searchlight” effect – sweeping in from the sky and illuminating the issue for a moment, only to leave it in darkness until the next time the light comes around.

At the FIS, we consider international-mindedness to include acceptance, service learning, and global engagement. These three dimensions are embedded in the IB learner profile and IPC Learning Goals. Does this go beyond mindedness, to an attitude, especially of openness and curiosity? It is an attitude towards the world and different cultures. The FIS community has displayed this mindedness through big and small ways, most recently in how we responded to the humanitarian crisis triggered by the Ukrainian war.

I would like to thank all those over the last few weeks who have helped me reconsider international-mindedness. To Ms. Manna and all those who helped and supported with last Monday’s bake sale; to Ms. Straub’s German class for their message of peace; to our Grade 4 students who made welcome signs for our Ukrainian students who joined us this week; to our students and colleagues who are engaged in activities through local agencies or self-initiatives; to our adidas parent who provided PE equipment to our guest students, and of course our PTO who are working with Erlangen Tafel to support people displaced as a result of the Ukrainian conflict – thank you.

We raised EUR 3021.58. This amount will be matched by Siemens, thus a total of EUR 6043.58 was raised to support the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. This money includes some very generous individual donations from staff and parents, bake sale stands in FIS 1 and FIS 2, the proceeds from the baked goods sold at the Altersheim, and the many pop-up stands by students, as well as EUR 250 from the Grade 3 young entrepreneur sales.

Thank you for reminding me that despite the complexity of rules and diversity of backgrounds and experiences, there seemed to be a deep understanding of human actions and interactions. This reminded me that our lofty ideals, sophisticated academic models, and complex international politics all begin with individual people – each one struggling to construct, inhabit and succeed in a world where we can be true to ourselves, relate empathetically to others, and strive continually to become more authentically human. The fundamental quest to understand and act with integrity with respect to our unique identities and shared values is what really lies at the heart of international-mindedness.

Liam Browne
Head of School

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