International educators have historically assumed that K-12 international schools are, by default serving multinational and multicultural expatriate communities, providing students with experiences that result in intercultural competence. But are international schools truly teaching students to make meaning of their unique cultural experiences or, when it happens, is it more by good-fortune than by design?
I recently had the honor of being invited to present a series of half-, one-, and two-day programs, at the Student Services Summit sponsored by the Hong Kong International School (HKIS). HKIS is among the top tier of K-12 international schools worldwide, and enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a premium institution. Although it was my first time at HKIS, working with and at the School had a quality of home-coming for me: I grew up attending international schools in West Africa and South East Asia, and consulted extensively with international schools throughout Europe and South Asia in the 1990’s. Although each international school varies from the next, the culturally diverse environment they typically offer is very much home territory for me.
And so what a joy to be asked to facilitate a two-day program for international educators titled Deepening Intercultural Competence: Developing an Intercultural Practice. Participants were international educators from across Asia and beyond, mainly developmental guidance counselors (with a couple of administrators too), who share a common passion for preparing their students to participate successfully in a globalized world. They were very ready for a professional development program focused on strengthening their own abilities to role model moment-to-moment intercultural practice.
I centered our time together on The MashUp: A Professional Toolkit for Developing Intercultural Competence. The MashUp (MU) is a natural and powerful combination of two leading processes in the development of intercultural competence: Cultural Detective (CD) and Personal Leadership (PL). Where PL provides a process to disentangle from automatic judgments, emotions, and physical sensations, and to open to the unique possibilities of the present moment, CD provides a process for deconstructing the intercultural dynamics at play, considering the values, beliefs and personal cultural sense that may be motivating people’s words and actions, and developing cultural bridges to close the gap. As an integration of the two, the MashUp offers a proven and exceptionally effective way to successfully strengthen intercultural competence in individuals, in teams, and across organizations.
In Hong Kong, the MashUp was very well received by participants who immediately saw its relevance and practical service to the daily situations they encounter – as international educators and as expatriates themselves. As one person put it:
|“How thrilled I am to have experienced these past 2 days – I feel excited and energized, ready to begin a new journey! This has been everything I had hoped it would be, and more. I am leaving today with great ideas to enrich my practice, and steps to move towards this goal. I also believe that I have a group of colleagues who have a similar mindset and interest in adding value to their practice.”|
I too left the session inspired. These international educators are ready to intentionally provide their students (no longer simply to trust to good-fortune) with the role-modeling, orientations, and practices that develop intercultural competence. And if that’s true of the educators in my session, then we can know it’s true of many more!
You have two opportunities to learn more about this developmental MashUp of PL and CD.
- The first opportunity will be live and in-person at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication, July 16-20. Developing Intercultural Competence: An Integrated Practice will be conducted by Dianne Hofner Saphiere and myself, Barbara F. Schaetti.
- The second opportunity will be a blended learning course to be held September-December 2012. Developmental Intercultural Competence: Cultural Detective, Personal Leadership, and the DMIS, a transformative professional development course is an avant garde blended learning course focuses on how best to use the MashUp to support the development of intercultural sensitivity as illustrated by the DMIS (Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity). This course will be conducted by Dianne, Heather Robinson, and me.