A few weeks ago, I mentioned how I’ve really enjoyed the international aspect of the high school where I’m the newly-minted English teacher. This week, I thought I share with you a few more reasons why this environment of missionary kids and students from all over the world is pretty awesome.
- Intercultural friendships happen naturally.
I love seeing my students—Korean, Mexican, Ethiopian, Guatemalan, African-American, European-American, Armenian—all hanging out together and forming friendships with seeming disregard for their different cultural backgrounds or skin colors. The small size of our school helps, since if they only hung out with people who looked just like them, they’d have a pretty limited circle of friends!
- The curriculum has an intentionally global focus.
I love that our ancient history reading selections cover China as well as ancient Egypt and Rome. And that our World Literature class includes not just the Western world, but also authors from African, South American, and Jewish cultures. I love the acknowledgment that America and Europe are not the center of the universe, but God’s redemptive plan of history encompasses the entire globe, and every part of it is important.
- The students bring richly diverse perspectives to the class.
I wrote before how cool it was to get paragraphs from students describing the various countries in which they’ve lived. I also appreciate getting to hear from their different cultural perspectives, as someone from an Asian, Armenian, or African-American background —or a missionary kid familiar with another culture—can provide insights into our discussions and projects that I cannot.
- Students are naturally exposed to people of different cultures.
Many of our students are international, but many are also local, and some have grown up in fairly culturally homogenous environments until now. I love seeing them experience friends from other cultures and have their perspectives potentially challenged and broadened.
- My own perspective is broadened
I had trouble placing where one of my students was from—he said he was Korean, but talked about having lived in Indonesia. Finally I figured it out: he was a Korean missionary kid whose family ministered in Indonesia. On Back to School Night, I had the privilege of meeting his parents, though we had to have a translator as they don’t speak much English. Another of our school families are Ethiopian-American, but have spent years as missionaries in Ethiopia. And I realized that, despite being in missions circles for years and all the learning and writing I’ve done about racial reconciliation and intercultural issues, it’s still a new thing for me to meet missionaries who are from, not just going to, Africa and Asia. That’s how awesome and cool and non-Western-centralized God’s global Kingdom has become.
Do you think it’s important for us to be in relationship with people from cultures and backgrounds other than our own? Have you had an international or intercultural experience that has enriched your life or taught you more about God and His world? Please comment and share!