In recent months the value of internationalism has been overshadowed by certain political events, including Brexit and the US Presidential election result. Although we can certainly hear protest from the Remainers and the Democrats, we need to address the reality that the loudest noise is coming from those who cast the consequential votes. Though to many this noise comes as a surprise, we now need to acknowledge that this feeling of dissatisfaction amongst great parts of our society needs to be addressed. However, I don’t think it should be addressed by closing the door on perceived problems, but rather by gaining a greater understanding of our community.
Today, Britain is an international community made up of different cultures, languages, customs and aspirations. We are surrounded by the wonder that is diversity, people of different backgrounds who we can learn from creating opportunities for new levels of understanding. As a community we are in danger of losing some of this with Brexit on our doorstep. It is vitally important that we encourage young people to continue to embrace individuality and internationalism. Personally, I feel that a more international community only offers positive outcomes, as integration with one another will result in a greater understanding of each other and a richer knowledge of different parts of the world. Communication is key. It allows us to break down barriers and prejudices towards what we don’t understand.
Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.” This is only part of internationalism, but it is a huge step towards opening lines of communication, and an even bigger step towards helping shorten a skills gap in languages that is now apparent in the UK. In order to spread the value of internationalism we need to stress its value whilst pupils are still in education. Unfortunately, by adulthood, views tend to become unshakable. It’s therefore important to offer pupils an open view of the different nationalities and cultures around them while their minds are still open.
It is vitally important that we encourage young people to continue to embrace internationalism
As Principal of Padworth College, I try to implement as many practices as possible to encourage and ensure that an all-embracing attitude is amongst our students. With over 30 different nationalities residing at the school, it is important that each individual feels welcomed whilst being able to show their true personality and culture. We have established a language learning programme where students converse in pairs, swapping to use their mother tongue between intervals. It has spurred on the confidence of the students, whilst creating a bond between them as they help each other pronounce each other’s foreign words. Our students are united in their thirst for a UK education which embraces language, history, cultural and global understanding of each individual’s place in the world. Here, difference is celebrated and students have the opportunity to truly be themselves.
Throughout history efforts have been made to promote understanding of others and to persuade human beings to connect with each other in a more effective way. However, it seems at present that we have come a bit unstuck. The UK is a fantastic place to live. The fact that so many people from all over the world want to come and live in this country is amazing. The fact that our education system remains the envy of the world, enticing people to want to educate their children in the UK, shows what a positive impact we have on the rest of the world.
At Padworth we will continue to embrace internationalism by opening our doors to every nation. We will continue to embrace our traditional English culture and the culture of the students who join us, whether that be through the food we serve, the celebrations we acknowledge or the languages we share, because we wholeheartedly embrace internationalism.
I would like to think that one day the internationalism that we have embraced here at Padworth and our belief in the value of diversity, cultures and internationalism will translate to other schools so that young people are exposed to as wide a variety of cultures as possible.