Actually International?



The Flag Pavilion at TKS an international school in Saudi Arabia

On January 30th, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I came across a post from HHSToday, the Hillsborough High School Newspaper’s Instagram page. It detailed their annual International Day celebrations, where various IB classes put on performances from different countries around the world. The students were piled into the gym to watch their peers perform celebrations of cultures from Mexico to Palestine. Along with many other events in high school, it was a competition. Immediately, I was flooded with envy; as someone drawn to the IB program primarily due to its international aspect, I have felt, for some time, that St. Petersburg High School does little to emphasize the international aspect of the program.

According to the IBO website, the mission statement of “the IB [is to] develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through education that builds intercultural understanding and respect.” While our school does focus on an international curriculum, it often fails to build intercultural understanding in the school experience. Chelsea Brown, an IB junior, said she “wants international days where we have presentations on different cultures and cultural experiences.” She believes that “a flag hallway” would be something that could acknowledge the unique international aspect of our school. Students who participate in the IB program joined not as an alternative to AP styles classes but to join a global community that boasted diversity in perspectives and cultures.

Many teachers agree with the overall sentiment of the students. Mrs.Vinciguerra, an IB Biology teacher, believes “the program has room to grow” regarding how the program approaches its internationality. While many of the books we read are translated texts such as Persepolis or Chronicles of a Death Foretold, and history is taught from multiple perspectives, the curriculum remains relatively similar to that of our peers in the traditional American High School curriculum. Arthur Oganisyan, a junior in the traditional program, said that “[the programs] are different yet alike” and compared them to “creek[s]” that “both flowed into the river of life.”

Mahi Shah, an IB junior, believes that the cultural appreciation of our school program is “surface level.” While cultural celebrations are often posted on Instagram, their significance is usually not talked about in school. Lily Cuddy, an IB sophomore and Secretary of Model UN says, “the program should have more international celebrations [because] the only international thing we do is a foreign language.”

So what is the solution? Who does the responsibility land on? Teachers? Students? Administrators? Or Parents? In order to progress forward and live up to the name of the International Baccalaureate Program, everyone should come together to support the change.