If You Smile At Me…

        So I’ve been thinking a lot about diversity these days, and it keeps bringing me back to one of my all time favourite song lyrics which goes, “If you smile at me I will understand, because that is something everybody, everywhere does in the same language”. You see, we’ve been focusing lately as a school on celebrating and embracing our diversity as a community, and really digging deep to create a culture of acceptance, tolerance and kindness within our school. We’ve been dedicating our assemblies to this topic and we’ve been giving workshops to our students which revolve all around these themes, and it’s exciting. Like all international schools we have families from all walks of life, bringing with them all kinds of needs, and we want to specifically tap into the richness and power that our collective differences (and similarities) can bring to our school culture.
        It is easy to take for granted the fact that we work in a school that it is exploding with such diversity, and the gift that this provides us as international school educators. We have such an opportunity to teach cultural awareness and empathy, to breakdown any preconceived notions or prejudice that we might have, and to give our kids the ability to see people for who they really are…released from their skin color, their individual needs as learners, their differing likes and dislikes, their religious affiliations, or their specific customs and traditions. International school education should be, and is a true celebration of diversity, and I’m not sure that there is anything more important than celebrating this as we send our kids off into the world.
        All of this work that we’re doing as a school coincides nicely with our international festival which is coming up in a couple of weeks…a day dedicated to coming together as a community to showcase and celebrate the beauty and strength that our differences bring. It’s also a day that will bring to life the fact that even with all of our differences, it is actually the similarities that we share which make us strong.
        That said, we know that a two day event won’t deeply embed these understandings in our kids, which is why it has to be something that we do on a regular basis…within our classes, our advisory programs, our curriculum writing, our leadership councils, our house system, and everywhere else. It has to be pervasive in all that we do if we want our kids to become the true empathic, tolerant, accepting, and open minded ambassadors who will change our world for the better. My challenge to you this week is to think about how you can find ways to celebrate our school’s beautiful diversity with your students on a daily basis. Let’s not take this gift for granted…let’s bring it to life in a very real way and let it shine bright. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week –
If you smile at me I will understand, because that is something everybody, everywhere does in the same language –
Crosby, Stills, and Nash song lyric (Wooden Ships)

 

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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