2nd prize - Student Journalism Awards - What does being at an international school mean to me? - Maxime Tanghe
The word 'international' portrays to me a harmonization in beliefs and cultures. It requires a significant amount of respect and ethicality, which should be at the utmost importance for our modernizing society. Being a student at an international school has radically changed my perspective on not only myself and my perception of humanity, but it has also directly affected the way I value and treat others. Along with it came a drastic change in my attitude, behaviour and most notably an inherent change to my moral values and principles, all caused by this fantastic exposure to a variety of cultures, morals and beliefs.
My passionate belief and advocacy in the benefits of this exposure are due to my personal experience. My journey began as an open-minded and energetic five-year-old when I left my home city of Brussels to move to Berlin. A forever changing city filled with cultural diversity and overall respect for all different interests and perceptions. I was directly captivated by this mindset. The mindset of being open to everything and respecting everyone no matter who they are. Although I attended a traditional German school, the city already shaped me into whom I wanted to be.
At the age of ten, aside with my previous established base of “internationalism”, my “real” international school journey began. That was when I moved back to the heart of Europe and went to the European School of Brussels. This appreciation for international schools quickly surged as I became increasingly conscious of the various benefits and privileges of attending an international school, such as the inclusion of all languages and ethical backgrounds made it possible for me to appreciate cultures in the most direct and authentic manner. I was directly more intrigued to learn new languages and travel to different destinations to experience a broad range of cultures.
As a result of this advancing desire for learning new languages and cultures, I convinced my parents to let me attend the British School of Brussels. I wanted to overcome my language barrier with the large international English speaking population. Ever since I associate being an international school student with hard work, determination and eagerness to gain new skills combined with the objective of taking on new opportunities as well as set challenges.
Being part of this cosmopolitan community also has the great benefit of creating a visionary and international career path. Having the convenience of meeting so many diverse and unique pupils every day, allows building an influential network of connections which can cherish a social life. It certainly did for me, as I can enjoy the company of friends from all over the world. That makes every encounter a completely different cultural experience along with the knowledge and pleasure that it generates. Not only is there this fantastic social aspect of an international student, but there is an increased chance of entering highly ranked universities all around the world. As Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Simultaneously, this network of people has the possibility of serving as a powerful tool for advancing any business or career-related matter. Hence, I associate being an international school student with excellent social life, countless opportunities and a bright future.
A quote that strongly resonates with my idea of being a student at an international school is that: “Simple exchanges can break walls down between us, for when people come together and speak to one another and share a common experience, then their common humanity is revealed” -Barack Obama. The way I interpret this delightful quote to our scenario is that those regular cultural exchanges happening at an international school, unite us and eradicate inequality.
Due to the many associated privileges with being a student at an international school, I believe there is a certain sense of jealousy from outsiders. Which might be caused by the prestigious and fortunate position we are in along with a perception that we are slightly arrogant. However, most of us are deeply appreciative of this given opportunity. Including myself, I am more than grateful to be in this position and feel extremely blessed for experiencing these privileges. In my opinion, being arrogant would defeat the whole purpose of being and representing this international student image of being inclusive, culturally aware and respectful. For that reason, I believe that any student having a sense of arrogance is not part of the real image and purpose of being a student at an international school. As a result, they are most definitely a minority since most of us certainly do not have this negative mindset.
Overall, my passion for being a student at an international school is profound and almost overwhelming. That is due to the endless benefits I can think of and coming up with disadvantages is extremely hard. It has positively changed me, and it can change you too! I am convinced that integrating and embracing some of the characteristic and principles found at students of international schools can have a positive impact on everyone’s life. Therefore it is necessary to ask yourself: “How can I integrate some internationalism into my personal life?” Whether this may be to learn and experience new cultures or simply just being more open-minded. Every change in this direction will have a substantial impact on our future.
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