This past summer, while international schools across the world were on vacation, the one thing that did not take time off were the unreal numbers of conflicts and disasters that are displacing people. According to the UNHCR, the number of refugees worldwide surpassed the fifty million mark; the highest number since World War II. Fifty million. That’s unreal.
If international schools are the best hope for our future (which I strongly believe), then what are we doing about this? How many scholarships has your school given to refugee students? How many I.B. students are dedicating their CAS to helping refugees? How many of you have connected with UNHCR? If you have, congratulations. If not, I’m willing to bet that your school is not too far away from a refugee zone. Even in Switzerland (my current residence and of course home to the UNHCR), the impact of refugees from Syria, the Ukraine and parts of Africa is present.
Fifty million. That’s crazy. I know how busy we are. I’ve been in education for twenty years. I get it. But busy for what? Have you read your mission statement lately? Are you living it or just talking about it at a few beginning of the year meetings as you prepare for accreditation.
Fifty million people. That’s the entire country of Italy without a home. Imagine that?
So while all those orientation activities are going on in the coming weeks about the new pool that was finished over the summer, the increase in enrollment, the introductions of all the new staff, etc. etc., take a moment to think of all those students living in tents, somewhere, some without parents, wondering if they’re ever going to go to a school again.
There’s so much to do to start the year. Well, there’s always a lot to do. I challenge us to do something against the wind by reaching out to make a difference for those 50 million, especially the kids who won’t be starting school this Fall.
I think vintage Bob Seger should play this one out.