The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
The Creation of International Human Beings

In a 1983 speech, Mrs. Fleming said, “What we are doing, or at least attempting to do, is to create not international schools but international human beings, men and women who are capable of moving easily in any society and any civilization on the face of the earth, people who do not have to overcome the barriers of prejudice or even unfamiliarity in communicating with their fellow human beings, no matter what their backgrounds.”

In the following essay, student writer Ekaterina Plotnikova ’18 explores the ways in which TASIS creates “international human beings.”

By Ekaterina Plotnikova ’18

What makes TASIS unique is that the community consists of people who come from many different countries. They speak diverse languages and have specific traditions and cultural identities. However, as the school is in Switzerland, all the cultures unite and mutually enforce an international understanding.

This understanding appears from the atmosphere that TASIS creates. When you walk around the campus, it is not difficult to hear more than ten different languages spoken by the students, and positive energy is spread through the variety of cultural differences.

It is a wonderful experience to become friends with people who come from different parts of the world. Eventually we will leave school to find our own paths, but there will always be a familiar person in every part of the world. When visiting new countries, many of us will be familiar with the social aspects of a place, as TASIS has already taught us some of the spiritual traditions of people who come from different parts of the world. We also know a couple of words in many foreign languages, as the students enjoy teaching each other the basics. We will never be lost while traveling because there will always be someone we know from Switzerland!

Eventually we will leave school to find our own paths, but there will always be a familiar person in every part of the world.

TASIS creates an international community as we all share our common knowledge. A TASIS student is often aware of the social, environmental, and economic issues that are present in many countries simply because his or her closest friends come from those countries. It is very important for the TASIS student to show a high regard for ethical issues, as it is not difficult to offend people who do not all have the same ethnic background.

Specifically, every person in the community has a different understanding regarding social and political topics. At TASIS, students learn how to avoid conflicts, respect each other’s cultures, and be lenient toward other students’ opinions. In a large school community, it is important to hold on to kindness, compassion, and integrity. It is vital to respect one another. Sometimes the things people say become offensive unintentionally because words can easily offend people’s beliefs. Even if this behavior takes place, it’s never too late to apologize and learn how to handle diverse cultural conflicts for the rest of our lives.

I have become an international student through uncovering all the shared cultural aspects I have been exposed to. At TASIS, it is not difficult to try new foods and learn about someone’s favorite topics to chat about. However, TASIS is not just about learning about somebody else—it’s also about finding yourself and feeling proud of who you are and where you come from. Many international students cannot easily identify “home,” as their hearts are shared among all the different cultures and countries they can relate to.

When you become international, it’s crucial to identify different cultures and adapt to them by losing some of the pride within oneself. It is completely natural to feel nationalistic and express compassion toward your own country, but it is not acceptable to judge other countries and their decisions. We do not choose where we come from, but we should know that there are beautiful souls all over the world, and they are definitely all around us at TASIS.

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