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Enriching our educational experience through our diverse international student body

Enriching our educational experience through our diverse international student body

St Mary’s is wholly committed to the belief that the wide-ranging international character of our students provides an opportunity to enrich the educational experience of both our girls from afar and those from closer to home. This strongly held belief is deeply rooted in our core Mary Ward values that celebrate religious and cultural diversity. It is also a central aspect of a High Performance Learning school that encourages students to be actively engaged and community-minded global citizens. To this end, we have an International Committee which evolves each year as the student membership changes and different issues surface at school, local, national and international level.

Consisting of a wide range of students across age groups, the International Committee has worked hard to raise awareness of issues of personal interest to international students, as well as of global issues of importance to the whole of the student body.

The committee designed and delivered assemblies to celebrate the International Day of the Girl; they spoke to the whole school about wage discrimination and the number of young girls across the world who are forced into early marriage and childbirth against their will. The committee recorded a series of videos to support the ‘#HearMeNow’ campaign, dedicated to encouraging girls to be advocates for social change across the world.

The committee also created a new notice board to display information relating to different countries, cultures, and identities across the world. A giant map in the dining room displays the countries of origin of our girls. With new students adding even more countries, this will bring home to the students how internationally diverse the school is.

The International Committee presented assemblies to the whole school to celebrate Black History Month in October. This year, this issue has been especially in focus due to racial violence in the United States and the campaign to remove historical monuments relating to Britain’s role in the slave trade. The international committee presented assemblies that highlighted the important contributions of black people, both past and present. The girls chose to celebrate figures like Rosa Parks, a woman who challenged racial discrimination by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955, sparking nationwide protests that helped to end US segregation laws, and Michelle Obama, the accomplished attorney and former first lady of the first African-American President in US history.

This year, students have also been contributing to the Missing Maps projects. Working as a part of a global community, girls have been working to literally put people on the map, by contributing to online data that maps vulnerable people and places, helping humanitarian agencies to provide aid and governments to plan sustainable development.

Further opportunities to allow students to engage in internationally planned projects include ‘E-twinning’ with other schools, and sharing virtual classrooms, which enable students to collaborate on research projects or compete in cross-curricular challenges with students in other countries.

Emily Dutton

International Lead