Written by Sissy Shen (Primary Chinese Coordinator) and Michelle Wang (ECE Coordinator)
Generally speaking, people would assume international schools should follow the Western standards in education and use English as vehicular language, and on top on that, have an international body of teachers and students coming from a wide range of different nationalities. This is what people would generally assume international education really is. But is this truly international education? Here at YCIS, we have a different point of view and therefore a different approach.
Confucious said: “We are striving for harmony but not sameness”. We believe that being able to bring different cultures together is a key aspect of international education. In fact, this ideal transcends education and goes beyond, into the very nature of human development. This is something that can’t be attained merely through conventional studying, but on the contrary one has to be directly immersed in it in order to fully comprehend it.
Western and Chinese are probably the most influential cultures in our World today. Bringing these two cultures together is an essential step if we really want the next generation to nurture a truly international perspective so necessary to address the problems and challenges resulting from the globalized era we are living in; a new world that requires a broader cultural and interpersonal mindset.
Ever since the foundation of YCIS, 85 years ago, this has been the idea behind our school; to combine the social and communal approach of Eastern education and the Western focus on developing the inner and very distinctive potential of every individual. This endeavor to combine the best of both worlds makes our approach to international education unique and different from so many other similar schools. From the early days in the kindergarten playground to the more academically demanding setting of the primary school classrooms, we strive to offer not only a bilingual education, but also a truly international environment were both concepts can come together in harmony and have a positive and deep impact on our students, and the communities we serve. We enable students to become truly global citizens with a rich background of Western and Chinese cultural values.
In order to achieve this goal, we spare no effort to provide our students with this enriching learning environment, for instance in the kindergarten years we intentionally mix Chinese cultural elements with the everyday life of the class, giving students a chance to experiment and apply by themselves the richness of Chinese Culture.
On the other hand, during the primary school years we provide countless opportunities for our students to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture through the Chinese Studies curriculum with a wide range of hands-on learning activities, ranging from History to Art and Geography without forgetting technology and Social Sciences. Especially important for us is the celebration of the Chinese Culture Day; an important activity for our students to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture through games, art, plays and physical activities.
Extra-curricular activities and traditional festivities also offer a great platform to work in this direction and offer our students an opportunity to further their understanding of the cultural diversity and incredible depth of the Chinese Culture. During Chinese New Year we can see both Chinese and International teachers together with their students dressed in traditional Chinese outfits, dancing to the rhythm of catchy tunes.
Last but not least, and in order to offer the real measure of the extent of our commitment, we can talk about how all this affects our smallest students; they, from the age of four, regardless of their country of origin or cultural background receive a Chinese name. They are addressed by this name during their Chinese class and they gradually develop a sense of belonging and identification not only to their name but to a greater degree to the whole of the Chinese culture.
Education plays an extremely important role in the forging of one’s life and place in the world and society; at YCIS we consider that one of our main missions is to combine the values and perspective of both the Western and Eastern education systems with the final objective of providing a unique multicultural and international exposure to our students, guiding them in their first steps in this world towards becoming truly global citizens. This is what we believe international education really is.