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AIC Grounded in Chinese culture and enriched by internationalism.


Chrys. Director

Our Mission Statement at AIC proclaims that our school is … “Grounded in Chinese culture and nurtured in the IB spirit of internationalism”. These are lofty and important sentiments, but what does this look like and how does this influence the way we operate at AIC.

We are in China and obviously ‘Chineseness’ is all around. However, to be grounded in Chinese culture requires more than that. It requires knowledge of history, values and customs as well as an understanding of how these things influence the thinking and actions of daily life in China. Chinese traditions that have formed the ideas of respect and social order in China. They are also ideas that are constantly being reshaped and adapted as changes are made in the economic and social structure of modern China.

At AIC we include a Chinese aspect in every unit of work. It might be an obvious, reference such as a Chinese case study or a subtle and less easily noticed reference, but it is always present. This is a requirement of the AIC Unit Planner for teachers. We also acknowledge Chinese festivals and important events. Often this is the focus of a student lead assembly, but it might also be part of a class activity. The CAS program is loaded with activities that find their origins in Chinese culture. These can include cooking, calligraphy, tai chi, or kung fu among others. Some students are also learning traditional arts and crafts while there is also an emerging Chinese band playing traditional instruments. CAS trips also visit locations of historic or cultural significance. The Liannan trip is a wonderful example of how our students have the opportunity to visit the Yao Minority and observe the cultural differences between Yao and Han Chinese. A co-operative agreement signed between AIC and the Liannan Ethnic Senior High School strengthens this relationship.

I get great pleasure each year as I see the team preparing for the Dragon dance that is performed at Graduation. The joy is not only based on the celebration of an ancient Chinese tradition, but also the pleasure in noticing the mix of nationalities operating the bamboo poles that bring the Dragon to life.

Another part of our mission statement concerns a commitment to internationalism. This is an important part of any education system that aims to prepare people to participate in the world. The world has changed dramatically. The students of today will live in a world that operates globally. Jobs and employment opportunities of the future will not just happen locally, but could happen anywhere. This means that it is not enough to prepare students to operate in places where they live now but they should be prepared to operate in a global world. A paper recently published by Edith Cowan University in Perth Australia reads “students with an international outlook learn to demonstrate respect for different cultures and are able to interpret issues of international consequence”. Leading educators in New Zealand also suggest that international understanding results in feeling comfortable with a diversity of people and leads to a business advantage.

The foreign students living and studying in AIC enhance cultural understanding of other students. This is why having them in our school is so important. Without the presence of international students can a school really justify calling itself an international school? Can you effectively learn about international understanding from a textbook, or is it preferable to meet and mix with ‘real’ people from across the world?

Local students at AIC have their outlook enhanced by the international students we have among us. They not only help our local students improve and develop their English language skills by providing the opportunity of having conversations with English speakers, but they also give an exposure to a diversity of world views and help students become more independent and creative thinkers. The benefits gained by our foreign students as they experience living in China is equally positive. Everyone benefits from this relationship.

The financial commitment by AIC in offering scholarships to international students is significant and the benefits are positive. This is well summed up by a former International School student now studying at the University of Cambridge in Britain doing a major in politics and international relations, she says “having an international outlook is important not only because of increasing international career opportunities, but to help people become more aware and well-rounded.”

When our Mission Statement promotes Chinese culture and international understanding in the same sentence it might at first seem a little odd, but it also reflects a powerful commitment by AIC. It is about helping students not only to feel secure in Chinese culture, but also to feel confident taking their place as a citizen of the world.

 

 

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