Its a Small World

Recently I was traveling on a tour bus in Japan when one of the little girls sitting near me starting singing, with her friend, the old well-known Disney song  ‘it’s a small world..after all’; these girls were of Muslim parents from Indonesia. What an image – travellers from various parts of the world together on a bus in Japan and these girls singing a song with which we all grew up. It caused me to reflect on the world in which I live and work.

We live in such a culturally diverse world. Prior to my principalship at Golden Grove Lutheran Primary School (GGLPS), I was the principal at St Michael’s in Hahndorf. The difference in the cultural makeup of the two schools is significant. St Michael’s, being reflective of the Hills community had very few students from other cultures while GGLPS , like all our sites in Connected Schools, have students from many different cultures. What richness this diversity brings to our communities.

One of the concepts on which we focus at GGLPS is that of ‘international-mindedness’. This concept could be defined as having a mindset that encourages a better understanding and appreciation of one another, of valuing and respecting all, irrespective of their values and beliefs. It calls for us to be able to communicate, be open- minded and to be knowledgeable about our world. After all, our students will live in a world that is ‘small’. We should be developing students who have an intercultural understanding so they can be principled global citizens.

Recently we celebrated Harmony Day at GGLPS with the focus for this year being recognition of the rich and diverse heritage of the student’s background. In gathering data for this celebration we discovered that our student body was represented by over 15 different nationalities. The celebration of this day saw family members sharing their identity with the school body. It was more than just flags, food and festival awareness; international mindedness calls for understanding and respecting or valuing the other, so class discussions explored in depth such areas as similarities and differences in religion, the refugee situation and the importance of belonging.

Along with this celebration, we will recognise each of the cultures at GGLPS with their native flag and display words of welcome in the mother tongue. Our new website has Google translator available so family members at home and abroad can be familiar with school events and happenings. Our strong connection with the Japanese culture will be extended through a sister school relationship which will allow our students to interact with Japanese students via technology.

Yes it is a small world. One which I don’t believe Walt Disney quite envisaged when this song was released over 50 years ago. It is a world in which our children will be living, relating and interacting. Through intercultural understanding and being internationally minded, I hope and pray that it will be a world of peace for them.

Shane Paterson
Golden Grove Lutheran Primary School

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