What does it mean to be truly international?
Before attending my international school in Singapore, I thought I was “international” compared to other Japanese students since I was bilingual. Of course, there are many advantages to being able to speak multiple languages. However, what we need to stop and think about is whether I am able to say that I am a global citizen just through my ability to speak the languages. What would happen if I am a very closed minded person who does not like accepting other cultures? What I noticed through my experience as a third culture kid is that it is actually possible for a person to be “international” even if he or she speaks only one language or has never been overseas. For most Japanese people, the extent of being international may be determined through considerations of how many countries we have been to or how many languages we can speak. However, this notion is very limited because it measures only the quantifiable aspects.
Surprisingly, many of my friends in my international school in Singapore have not been outside their home country before they attended the school. Despite this fact, they were all so open-minded and always willing to know more about the world. I think this is the most significant factor of being “international.” I was shocked about how limited my former notions of being global were and was deeply impressed by how the students around me all had the diversity not in their nationality but more in their mindsets. Their unique perspectives and ambitions helped me to realize my position in the global community. Being open-minded is a key factor in being diverse as this leads to a better understanding of your surroundings.
I have always wanted to contribute to the international community but did not know how to. Now I know that if I want to make a difference globally, I must start with myself and look back at my mindset. In other words, open-mindedness is the fundamental stage to play a role in the international community. Being aware of what it means to live in a community is important when you want to look at yourself on a global scale and what you can do as a global citizen.
All in all, I learned that it is the mindset of being open to new ideas and the sense of acceptance of differences in the world that leads to becoming true international students.
- Minami Wakabayashi