Have you ever noticed how well communities come together in a crisis? People who usually take little notice of each other will render extraordinary assistance to their neighbours who suddenly find themselves victims of floods, bushfires, earthquakes and so on. Why can’t we always be supportive of each other? Why does it require a disaster to bring out the best in us?
Something else you may have noticed is that people are not always quick to provide support, even in a disaster situation. Who the victims are seems to make a difference. Consider the catastrophic 2010 floods in Pakistan and compare this to the disastrous 2010/2011 floods in Queensland, Australia. The shocking Pakistan floods killed more than 2000 people and left over 20 million others homeless, when the worst monsoon floods in Pakistan’s history swept away villages and generated huge landslides. Countless crops and livestock were lost depriving millions of their means of living. The horrendous Queensland floods caused the evacuation over 70 towns, affected more than 200,000 people and resulted in a final death toll of 33, with another 3 people remaining missing. Estimated damage has been put at about A$1 billion. These events in Queensland and in Pakistan are both horrific. Why though do we respond so empathetically, and generously, to one and take minimal interest in the other? Could it be that one feels personal to us and the other does not? Could it be that personally relating to someone makes it easier for us to understand and to respond to their needs?
Schools include studies of other cultures in their curriculum. The real potential in “International education” is the opportunity to move the inner person, touching student’s hearts in such a way that they begin to feel connected to each other as one human family. You do not achieve that through merely learning about other cultures. You achieve it through personal contact – individual students in one country/culture coming to know and befriend individual students in another through positive, purposeful interactions involving collaboration. If you know someone personally in such a way then you will rejoice with them over their successes. If you know someone personally in this way then their problems and their pain become your problems and your pain – then you will have both the understanding and the heart to stand up and do whatever you can to provide support. You will care enough to make something happen. This is the ultimate outcome we want for our students from International partnerships.
The aim of this blog is to provide an opportunity for students to connect with each other by discussing issues that affect real people – people with whom they share this planet, people who they should care about.
If you “Know Me” and I “Know You”, then caring about each other, and the planet we all depend, upon will be much easier! What we need to do will be so much clearer!
Our eyes will not be clouded by the artificial separations of race, religion, politics, region, tribe, the flag we live under, language, dialect, wealth or any of the other potentially divisive barriers that stop us from seeing each other for what we really are – people who, deep in our hearts, all want the same things: peace, security, family, meaningful work, a sense of community, dignity, freedom, opportunities, respect and a sense that other people genuinely care about us. That is what really matters! That is why it is so important that you know me and I know you!