Students, teachers, administrators, and alumni were interviewed to explore their understandings of global citizenship education. There were 11 students that participated in 1 to 3 in-depth interviews each. There were 17 teachers that participated in 1 to 2 in-depth interview each. The were 2 alumnae that participated in 1 in-depth interview each.
Lee keeps a busy schedule by balancing classes, basketball practices, daily gym visits, intensive German sessions and piano lessons. Upon transferring to TES towards the beginning of high school, he quickly developed a bond with his basketball coach, who furthered his love for the game and aided him in his studies. This connection was incredibly important given the strained relationships in his family. As a result of his parents’ rise to higher social status and their rigid standards for success, Lee’s immediate family has polarized themselves from other relatives. Lee has readily accepted their newly attained status, finding no qualms with his familial divide and admitting he feels most at home with his upper-class peers at his new school. Lee believes his intrinsic motivation in combination with his parents’ expectations will allow him to pursue higher education at the institution of his choice in Germany.
As the daughter of a pharmacist and a doctor, Lin aspires to indulge her interest in the biological sciences and eventually enter the medical field herself. While allocating plenty of time to spend with her family, she diligently studies for hours after school each day. However, as a twelfth grade student, Lin also finds herself absorbed in athletic activities where she can spend time with her equally driven friends. She acknowledges that stiff academic and athletic competition often rattles her friendships, but they remain constant. While her family and friends provide motivation, Lin feels little pressure from them; her greatest sense of pressure comes from within. Consequently, Lin worries that her own tremendous ambition will prevent her from eventually reaching her goals.
When Chen is not bouncing from student council meeting to study hall to soccer practice, she is most likely watching American media channels on her computer. Her brief window of free time is dedicated toward catching up on Bob’s Burgers or Modern Family— two popular American television shows. Fascinated by her physics teacher’s New England origins and laid-back style, Chen finds opportunities to learn from him in her efforts to understand and adopt Western values. Her clear-cut plans to attend college in the United States prompts her to recognize TES as a stepping-stone as leaves Taiwan and its cultural expectations behind. Chen’s openness to cultures outside of her own has created both advanced global awareness and distance between herself and her Taiwanese roots. She walks the delicate line of both appreciating her parents’ support and being highly critical of them. Chen is a blend between the Taiwanese world she has always known the Western world she strives to better understand.
Peter stands apart from the other diligent students at TES. Rather than spending hours a day on his schoolwork, he finds opportunities to have fun and seeks enjoyment in his everyday life. Peter feels inspired by close friends and family members who follow their own desired paths and ignore the pressures around them. His dream to become a professional mechanical engineer is accompanied by his aspirations to excel in piano—both dreams carrying equal importance as he prepares for university. Peter’s upbringing is largely defined by his family’s move from South Korea to Taiwan when he was nine years old. His background positions him differently from others. However, Peter does not latch on to those differences, nor does he separate himself from his Taiwanese classmates. Peter believes that the commonalities that connect students at TES help build balanced individuals, independent learners, and global citizens—the foundation of the school’s mission statement.
Administrators and Teachers
A blend of European and American roots, Lars is someone who adapts to new places and cultures with ease. His move to Taiwan was driven by his interest in international education, which he developed during his college years. Lars’ passion for working with students and watching them grow allows him to build close relationships with students at TES. Although he recognizes that his personal background and teaching approach conflicts with traditional Taiwanese expectations, Lars has negotiated these tensions to meet the needs of students. Lars connects with students within and outside of the classroom context (mostly through basketball). These efforts have won him the reputation of being the young, hip, and admirable teacher. In the classroom, he encourages students to speak only English and express their opinions as a way of fostering their global citizenship. Upon his arrival, Lars quickly learned that he needed to emphasize approaches that emboldened students to become more vocal. This has defined his pedagogy.
William is contagiously enthusiastic about his position as a history teacher and varsity basketball coach at TES. His four years of unhappiness as an electrical engineer in the Navy led him to teaching. Traveling down this new path, he has gained a sense of honor, reward, and enrichment. He claims that his students keep him youthful, despite his already young age. Because William’s childhood and college years were confined to New York, he is appreciative of the opportunities he has received to branch out and live abroad. Of all the international schools he has taught at over the past decade, TES emerges to the top. William favors the school because of its lovable student body and strong sense of community. His warm relationships with his students and colleagues fuel his interest to continue teaching at TES for many years to come.
After thriving at TES, Claire followed in her father’s footsteps and elected to attend an exceptional institution in the United States where she has plans to study Japanese and International Global Studies. In her first year, she has taken on fewer obligations on her current campus in comparison to TES where she was heavily involved in community service endeavors, sports and various clubs. She feels strongly that TES did everything in their power to prepare her to be a global citizen, but admits it was truly impossible to fully prepare her homogenous peer group at TES to enter a population filled with legitimate diversity. Regardless, Claire has slowly begun to adjust to the culture shock, finding solace in her membership to a Taiwanese club with students she feels she can relate to. In the future, Claire intends to continue exploration of the United States with little intention of returning to Taiwan.
The son of two physicians, Jack is determined to pursue a premed track at his elite institution in the United States, while also maintaining an English and History double major. As a child, he never envisioned going abroad for school, despite the fact both of his parents had attended college in the United States. After transferring to TES in middle school, he admits the pressure from the predominantly American faculty and his parents eventually convinced him higher education in America was the path he should take. All in all, Ryan feels his high school successfully led to him to excel academically, but he remains uneasy navigating American culture, often hesitating to socialize with students from differing backgrounds. In the future, Ryan has hopes to branch out as he becomes more comfortable adjusting to college life and looks forward to returning to Taiwan again one day.