Internationalism at CAISL
CAISL is an American International School in Portugal.
As an American school, we follow American traditions, philosophy, methods of instruction, and curriculum which selects and incorporates the best practices of the United States.
As a school in Portugal, we teach Portuguese at all grades and fluency levels, from beginning to native/fluent speaker and we take students out into the city and at times outside the city to learn about and celebrate Portuguese culture, history, and traditions.
But what does it mean to be “international”? What really is an International School?
In its broadest sense, an international school is one which offers a program of studies not offered by the host country. A school calling itself international will usually enroll students who are citizens of many countries, rather than all from the host country. These are the only universal definitions of an International school.
By this most superficial of definitions, many schools, including CAISL, can rightly call themselves international.
However, to be truly international requires more than just a lengthy list of nationalities on the enrollment.
To be international requires people from different cultures coming together to create a nationality unique to the school. This would not take the place of the nationalities of its members but would complement and enhance it.
For a community to exist with purpose and harmony, there must be a core of beliefs which each individual accepts as valid and essential. At CAISL, these are in our “Core Value”—an educational community where each person does his or her best and strives to make a positive difference—as well as in our Values Statements and our Profile of the Learner. They are also in our Hidden Curriculum—standards of behavior and interactions between peoples.
To be a member of an international school community such as CAISL, each member must seek to understand differing opinions, respect oneself and show respect to others, practice kindness and compassion and honesty and fairness.
To be a member of an international school community, one does not relinquish one’s own values or belief systems but lives in harmony with those who are different and seeks to understand their beliefs.
In March 2018, CAISL was the site of the Council of International Schools Symposium on Intercultural Learning. Three CAISL High School students gave a keynote address to the educators who had come from around the world. Their address (at the link below) was so well received by the adult professionals that it was referenced in workshops throughout the Symposium as a highlight of the event.
For what “internationalism” is from the student perspective, here is their speech: