Recently I’ve been struck by just how much of a community our school truly has become for our students. I know ‘Community’ is part of the name of our school and we most certainly do a lot of ‘big ticket’ community things. Our PAFA events from the International Food Fair, to the back to school picnic, to market days all bring our community together. However, I’ve noticed a lot of things that are much more subtle indicators of the community we’ve become.
It’s obvious that our school is from all over the map, literally! We have students from over 50 countries speaking well over a dozen different languages. Yet that mix of students doesn’t result in clashes or arguments relating to culture, language, or other misunderstandings. Our kids get along, they’re friends with everyone and they’re open to new experiences. This may be something that we think is obvious and perhaps it should be. It’s not unusual to find students who’ve grouped themselves together by home culture. However, as an example of how kids are building community, I frequently find one of our newest sixth grade boys (who is Korean) on the field playing with a group of almost all non-Koreans. It’s awesome to see kids out of their comfort zones and taking risks. Culture is not a barrier to community at SCIS.
Each morning as I wait for the kids to come off the buses I get to observe a whole variety of what I’ll call “proof of community”. The other day I asked a high school student if the little second grade girl she walks and talks with every morning was her sister. I was shocked when she said, “No, she’s just a girl that rides my bus.” This very social high schooler walks in chatting away with a tiny little second grade student as though they’re best friends…and she’s not the only one, this happens quite frequently between students of all ages at our school. I can’t imagine the confidence and feelings of safety that our younger students must feel because of these relationships. Age is not a barrier to community at SCIS.
The culture we’ve created at SCIS fosters these community bonds. Activities and events create relationships between students who would otherwise not engage each other. House games in the Middle School bring our kids together across grade levels for friendly competitions. The swim team brings kids from all grades together to train, compete, and grow together. The bonds I’ve witnessed between high school and middle school swimmers created because of the team are very positive bonds and fortunately they happen frequently. As the Upper School production comes to production night (go see Midsummer Night’s Dream tonight or tomorrow!!!) it’s wonderful to see the bonds and relationships that have grown between high school and middle school students, kids who normally would have no reason to interact with each other. We build community at SCIS.
Shanghai COMMUNITY International School truly is a community. Our students are happy when they come to school. They feel safe, confident, and they feel welcome. The community that we’ve become is thanks to all that you give back to our students. Without your efforts our students get on the bus and go home but thanks to you we have a bustling after school activities program and our kids are engaged. We are a community at SCIS!