Dear Hilltopper Community,


Thank you for joining this monthly conversation regarding Marshall's mission & purpose, and thank you for providing feedback on the most recent essay. As always, I welcome your thoughts on this topic as well.

Kind regards,


A Larger Stage

In January, we will welcome twelve high school students from Turkey to spend two weeks immersed in Hilltopper life. Turkey is a fascinating country, whose residents have a unique window to the world. Geographically, Turkey bridges continents together; historically, it bridges millennia. Turkey is also vitally important in today's geopolitical realm. I know of no other school hosting such an exchange, and I can only imagine how rich classroom discussion might be when students have the chance to share and compare perspectives on current events, religion, and foreign policy. Nonetheless, I understand the visit will not be fully embraced by all. Global education, at the moment, is encountering significant backlash.

From a common sense perspective, it is difficult to imagine why.

Most students need to be encouraged to step outside their comfort zone. It is how they grow. At independent schools, we celebrate the upperclassman who dares to try theater for the first time, as well as the student who accepts the challenge of an honors or an AP course. Neither endeavor is easy. The actor may sing off key in front of family and friends, and the AP student may earn a lower grade because of the increased rigor, but we believe the risk is worthy. We believe growth happens in periods of discomfort. That is why we encourage our students to travel on language immersion trips and to befriend students from all over the globe. Engaging outside of one's comfort zone requires students to make decisions, so it is important to lay out the benefits of broadening one's perspective.

Promoting the value of global engagement is especially important right now as the very notion of globalization is increasingly politicized. Our students are not unaware of the proliferation of xenophobic sentiments equating nationalism with patriotism, and further implications that the desire to be connected with the world is somehow unpatriotic. I believe these simplistic equations are not only false in their interpretation of what it means to be a patriot, but dangerous in their masking of a simple truth: Xenophobia is a fear; one which has been given a stage in America.

As educators, we believe it is good to help young people overcome their fears. For instance, schools act responsibly when they help students overcome the fear of public speaking. Since students overcome xenophobia by meeting people from other places, we facilitate those opportunities within the safety of our school. No Marshall students are asked to renounce their nationality when they play games or attend cultural events in our international dormitory; it just doesn't work that way.

Our world is undeniably global, has been global, and is becoming global evermore. Our campus sits on a hill above a port city that serves the world—and has served the world for more than a century. From an educational standpoint, it would be difficult to justify a curriculum that was not designed to promote global engagement.  At Marshall, we see ourselves on a different and a larger stage, with a clear calling 'to educate students to become global citizens.' We are a place where students will find opportunities to overcome xenophobia—not a place to maintain it. Please take the opportunity to encourage your children to participate in our global programming. It is as easy as saying hello to one of our 37 international students, and the benefits just may last a lifetime.


(c) 2018 Marshall School 

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