Polyculture and International Schools
Updated: Nov 7, 2019
From my office near Chinatown in Philadelphia I traverse the globe virtually every day. In the
wee hours of the morn I trek the wilds of Papua New Guinea where a Belgium family seeks an internationale baccalaureate school for their Flemish speaking teenager. I quickly cross the balmy Java Sea and find myself among the hyper modern Singaporean skyline where I evaluate the potential effects of a family’s future repatriation to Holland. Afterward, Paris beckons as an Italian banker residing in London flees the unresolved Brexit fiasco for a new post dans l’Hexagone, and requests accompaniment to visit schools in Neuilly sur Seine. Finally, I’m at the foot of the august Andes in Concepcion, Chile where a Honduran HR manager is registering his son into a bilingual Montessori School.
Even during this era of unbridled access to global info, the uniting factor across nations and
nationalities remains the family unit. These are not the Portuguese mariners of bygone days
whose spouses bid them adeus for the last time as they embarked across the seas towards the Spice Islands. The majority of international assignees are accompanied by their spouse and children on a grand new adventure. In fact, the number one factor in potential assignees
declining the new assignment is the family’s wellbeing, not the remoteness or challenge of the location.
With families accepting the move, over the past 20 years international companies relocating
personnel en masse have accelerated the demise of the standard national citizenship model
fashioning a burgeoning corporate citizenry. Employees and their families relocate abundantly and to once unfamiliarly “exotic” regions. Though adults still have a national origin, those stayed notions have become more ambiguous and antiquated for their children. A sample case family I’ve personally advised has Russian-Israeli parentage while the children attend the Lusophone Angolan school system in Luanda. At home their parents speak a mix of Russian, English, and Hebrew while the children are schooled in the Portuguese language curriculum. These young polyglots are polycultural and assignee families seek out school environments reflective of their children’s diverse backgrounds.
Even repatriating Americans to the Woodlands, Texas, shortlist international schools rather
than the local but excellent performing public schools. Rearing and schooling polycultural
children abroad has become a reassignment necessity addressed by British, American, AEFE
French Schools, but most especially by International Baccalaureate schools around the globe. These school systems cater to a burgeoning class of international citizens that facilitate transplantation of pupils to other international destinations. Once a pupil has entered the system with the future expectation of multiple international moves, the children can be assured curricular continuity.
Today international assignee families reside between borders. To avoid that their children are schooled between curricula, international schools provide stability.