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Head of Primary Blog - Why I Teach in an International School

Mrs.Alison Priestley
Mrs.Alison Priestley (13 posts) Head of Primary View Profile

There are so very many reasons why I became a teacher, to contribute to society and community in a meaningful way, to change the life of a child, to open minds, to be a lifelong learner and many, many more but I do get asked why did I want to leave the UK and work internationally?

It is an absolute privilege to work with children from all corners of the world; the range of language, culture and traditions is simply fascinating but the overwhelming joy is to see an absolute lack of barriers. Children do not care what colour your skin is, what God you might worship, what your parents do for a living or remarkably what language you speak. Young children have a way of communicating that doesn’t require words, they have an implicit trust in others and an expectation that we will all be kind to each other. Interestingly children have a real sense of justice, we can often see them protest loudly if they see someone else being treated unfairly- we don’t have to teach this, they just know.



The skill for adults, either teachers or parents is to help children to retain this inbuilt and natural sense of respect, for them to develop and keep their friendships based on character and not colour - racism is something you learn and not something you are born with.

I have enjoyed taking part in many international days and an incredible array of cultural festivals, such as the wonderful water festival in Thailand called ‘Songkran’ where you make a flower basket, which floats away on the water carrying away all your troubles and the  the Dashain festival in Nepal, which lasts for 15 days, and as a vegetarian is not an easy one with animal sacrifices forming part of the ceremony.

In international schools we always celebrate festivals that are important to children, it is vital that children respect their own and others traditions. I have never seen or heard a child not want to participate in any of these celebrations. I have found that close bond is built between the children as they understand each other’s different customs. Being an international school with a diverse community, the children need to know what each festival means and its importance.

Another vital element of working an international school is the overwhelming sense of community. Most families and teachers are away from their friends and families; building those friendships quickly is therefore very important for both social interactions and for building an emotional safety net. Humans tend not to be solitary animals and we need each other to protect our emotional and mental health. As ex-pats we learn to build strong friendships quickly but also to learn how to say goodbye.

I love my life in international schools, I want to take so many aspects of it and show it to the leaders of our countries who get so strung up about where we were born and who owns what. Listen and watch the children, see how the magic of innocence cuts through every possible boundary.