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International mindedness is a commitment to celebrating our diversity

Mark Beach

This blog post was written by Mark Beach, Principal of Discovery College in Hong Kong. It was originally published in the school’s online magazine. 

International mindedness is a central part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, and an integral part of what we aim to embody at Discovery College (DC). Indeed, each person at the College, from our youngest student to our senior staff, plays a role in this. Our Powerful Learning Statement has reflected this ideal since the founding of the College, noting that a positive environment for learning is one in which a shared spirit of respect, which dignifies and prizes our diversity of experiences and perspectives, exists.

In the last year, we have refocused on this priority and worked to develop a shared understanding of international mindedness among all staff. This was done through various forums among the staff, including two full-day IB workshops, as well as follow up workshops led by DC staff. In addition, an international-mindedness committee was formed and tasked with developing a guiding statement, which determined three broad areas that encompass international mindedness: curriculum, relationships, and events & environment. international-mindedness

This committee also looked at the IB documents and related publications, and conducted a review of the IB Learner Profile attributes. Through these opportunities and discussions, Discovery College’s International Mindedness Guiding Statement was created: “International Mindedness at DC is a commitment to celebrating our diversity where people know themselves and others, and demonstrate empathy by thinking globally and acting ethically.”

The College is integrating international mindedness throughout many aspects of our community, under the umbrellas of curriculum, relationships, and events & environment. Class teachers continue to consider multi-lingualism, global engagement and intercultural understanding when planning, teaching and assessing units of work. Our College-wide commitment to wellbeing and restorative practices fully supports international mindedness, including the components of personal responsibility, valuing diversity, dealing with conflict respectfully and seeking to understand others. Through our College events and celebrations, which can occur at an individual, class, year level or College level, we strive to increase our understanding of diverse cultures, group experiences, traditions, values and beliefs in order to enhance our relationships with one another.

However, international mindedness is a concept that can and should extend beyond these College initiatives. It is about each of us, in every part of the community, making these concepts part of our daily lives. It is quite easy to say that we will do these things, but another to implement them each day and be mindful of our actions and reactions and the way we treat others. Understanding our own cultures and beliefs, as well as those of the people around us, impacts all of our wellbeing. The way we respond to conflict – whether this be on the playground, in our neighbourhood or in the office – gives us an opportunity to improve our awareness and our openness to ideas and views that are different than our own. The way we treat those who are different than us, who come from a different country, speak a different language or have different beliefs, impacts our greater community. This is true within the College and Discovery Bay, but also on a larger global scale.

Similarly, the consideration we have for those here in our community can extend the concept of international mindedness. Though we encourage and support our students to understand and engage with communities around the world, through programmes like No Boundaries and other virtual engagement opportunities, we can also create this intercultural awareness here in Hong Kong. We live in a diverse community with Hong Kong as our home, and even looking at Discovery Bay alone, we see a broad diversity in nationalities, religions and cultures. Certainly understanding communities around the globe is important, but we can start in our own community.

At DC, we are all striving to improve our own understanding and implementation of international mindedness. As we look at the curriculum, the relationships in our community, and the events and environment of the College, I hope that you will join us in this effort to understand and respect of others’ views, beliefs and traditions. I believe it will make a stronger environment for learning for our students, and hopefully a more internationally minded community.

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