We want a school that is inclusive in its orientation, seeking and encouraging diversity in staff and students. We want a strong moral atmosphere at our school where everyone is held to the highest standards…of tolerance and respect.
When they gathered to plan the creation of the first new international school in Thailand in decades, our founding families—many of whom worked for the United Nations—imagined a community unlike others of the time. Their statement of purpose called for the creation of “an educational institution unique to the world”, one that promoted a truly international perspective that would draw upon the rich experiences of both the expatriate and Thai communities.
For more than 30 years, we have held true to their vision.
Many international schools in Thailand provide a quality education. Few provide enriching learning opportunities that allow children the opportunity to engage with peers from around the world; develop their sense of identity in a safe, nurturing environment; and receive the individualized support they need to flourish. Though we maintain high expectations of all students, our community is defined by our inclusive approach: a commitment to valuing every child regardless of their passport, skin color, gender, sexual orientation or needs.
A Truly International Community
Across the entire Bangkok international school community, students come from nearly every nation around the globe, and NIST is no exception. However, we are unique in committing ourselves to being truly international.
From our history with the United Nations to our adoption of the International Baccalaureate, we have sought to be independent, free from any one national curriculum or creed. We are now the most diverse school in Thailand, with our students representing over 60 nationalities, dozens of languages and a wide range of backgrounds.
A Celebration of Difference
We also recognize that a truly international education must represent much more than a list of nationalities. Diversity at NIST encompasses differences in sexual orientation and identity, physical and learning abilities, and experiences and perspectives. It challenges us to confront our assumptions, to question our preconceptions.
But most importantly, diversity encourages us to grow and recognize that the most powerful opportunities for learning emerge from the discomfort of difference, and that it is that learning that ties us together as a community.
A Commitment to Equity
We are all shaped by our circumstances, unique in our beliefs and values. These differences can and do lead to disagreement and debate. Yet our community is firmly committed to fostering a sense of belonging among every member of our community. Every individual deserves to be respected and appreciated for their differences.
In a world in which difference creates conflict and can often lead to violence, we believe it is important to consciously commit to equity for all individuals. Equally important, we must promote this belief both within and beyond our walls.
What Is the Impact of Inclusion?
The most common objections to inclusion cite the difficulties of integrating differences into the classroom or the perceived challenges in allowing all students to flourish in their learning. Yet these overlook the incredible impact every child can have on their peers.
We learned this firsthand from Astrid, one of our students who inspires her peers and enriches our own learning. Her influence on our community has been so profound that the Special Education Network & Inclusion Association (SENIA) created the World Changers Award to recognize her and other individual students who raise awareness about the power of inclusion.