Written by: Mrs. Hannah Holliway
As I return from my third trip to China, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on our international student recruitment initiative as a school and as an admissions office. When I think of our international students like Kilian from Bavaria, Germany, or Gary from Beijing, China, or my more global their life is than mine was in high school. In my school of roughly 1000 students, there was one international student from Europe per year. Europe seemed so far away, Asia was unimaginable.
Today, in companies around York, engineers, designers, CPAs, buyers and sellers work with people from other countries on a regular basis. Companies invest in classes to help their employees achieve a certain level of cultural competence so that they are able to work with those from other parts of the world. We are not alone – across the globe companies seek employees and train employees to understand other cultures in order to improve their businesses. Ours is a global economy and this is the world in which we are preparing our Greyhounds to live, work and find their passions.
According to National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, “The 21st century isn’t coming; it’s already here. And our students have the opportunity and challenge of living and working in a diverse and rapidly changing world. Schools must prepare our young people to understand and address global issues, and educators must re-examine their teaching strategies and curriculum so that all students can thrive in this global and interdependent society.” This is why we, at YCDS, sought to place a concerted effort into building a robust international student program two years ago. We now have nine international students in the Middle and Upper School at YCDS. Currently, the students represent three different countries. Our goal is to grow the number of countries represented in our student body over time and help foster cultural understanding among all of our students, domestic and international alike.
When I travel to China, I am hosted by International Education Opportunities (IEO). IEO has agents that work throughout China and promote our school even when I am not in country. The tours though China are a lot of work. It is a large country, much like the US with many regions and many different understandings of western education. On this trip I visited six different cities, two schools and many educational counselors. I met with over fifty students and talked about our very special Greyhound community. I explained what it felt like to have an education focused on problem solving and critical thinking. One in which your opinions, however different from your teacher’s or your classmate’s, were valued.
The highlight of this particular trip and easily all my trips thus far was getting to meet my host daughter’s parents. Michelle is in grade 10 at YCDS. She is the Student Council Treasurer, a tennis player, a member of ensemble and chorus, and a Gear Hound team member. Duke and I became her host parents when she began her freshman year at YCDS. It didn’t take long for this young lady from halfway around the world to become an honorary Holliway. Being able to talk with the parents that raised this special young person, whom we have come to love so dearly, was overwhelmingly wonderful. While we needed a translator to help us with our conversation, we didn’t need one to hug!
I am excited for the continued growth of our students and was thrilled to see all the exciting things they were doing while I was gone. I’m quite ready to be back home with my Greyhound family at good old YCDS.