This morning I had a moment of crisis. I am British. I came to school in an ao dai and yet I wanted a coffee before the school day started from a Korean chain of coffee shops. What was I to do? Could I confidently walk out into the promenade of Royal City head held high in the nationally recognised dress of Vietnam? Of course, I could.
The photographs of staff, teaching and administrative, sharing this special moment for Tet Trung Thu, shows the delight most of our staff and children feel at this combined event. It goes to the heart of what we are as a school, equipping assimilation of cultural ideas and norms whilst at the same time remaining true to who we intrinsically are. The curriculum, values and practices in our school are built around respect.
Students can truly feel proud of themselves in who they are how they think, feel and respond as citizens of Asia and more specifically Vietnamese and Korean, yet they are gaining an incredible amount in sharing their lives with expats with their perhaps unusual ways and ideas. In just the same way, we as expat teachers and leaders are privileged to be part of life here with all it entails. That blend is indeed special, and makes life considerably more interesting. Our bilingual and bicultural model is intrinsically additive, not subtractive. We do not seek to remove any of the wonderful qualities of one’s own nationality, culture and heritage but to supplement only, to equip adaptation and flexibility – not loss. Being open to nuance and cultural sensitivities is a powerful thing.
What we offer is being proven to be lasting and effective. Students can speak and write persuasively in both languages they learn – something three in the case of our Korean students. They are the richer for it. Our community is the richer for it. Where they eventually end up at university, the places where they work, the communities they eventually settle in will undoubtedly be the richer for it.
Let’s never forget why these events are so significant. I wish you all a very happy Tet Trung Thu weekend with friends and families.
Mr Mark Sayer - Principal of BVIS Hanoi