Originally Posted 06/22/2015
In Matthew 28: 18-20, Jesus gave us the specific command to "go and make disciples of all nations." As written in our Mission Statement, "We engage students in an education of excellence to impact the world for Jesus Christ." Today we need not go far to experience the world. Schools, colleges, businesses, and non-profits have increasing diversity. 25% of our nation's college students are from other countries. As the best-selling author Thomas Friedman puts it, we live in an increasingly "flat world." This refers to the changing global marketplace in which geographical divisions are becoming increasingly blurred.
For years now our Upper School campus has welcomed just a few international students each school year. I'm pleased to announce that beginning with the 2015-16 school year we will have an intentional International Student Program at our Upper School campus. First let me tell you what this means, and then I'll explain why we're moving in this direction.
We'll be working with several select international student agents to help us recruit and select students who will meet our requirements. The students must speak adequate English, be emotionally equipped to handle the cultural and life change, and have above average academics. Once selected, we will match each student up with a Christian host family.
While this program will not include our Lower and Middle School, we do hope to increase our efforts at teaching all of our students about other world cultures. I'm hopeful that some of our international students at the Upper School can even be part of teaching middle and lower school students about other customs and languages.
Now let me talk briefly about why we're doing this. As Christians we are called by God to make an impact on culture and society. We cannot do this without cross-cultural understanding and competency. We must be able to look outside of ourselves and be aware of the cultural beliefs, values, and customs of any culture we hope to teach and influence. To influence, you must first understand. Impacting the world for Jesus Christ is part of our mission. It's what we do.
Everyone understands the problems of communication caused by lack of a common language, but many are unaware of the communication problems that can be caused by culture. That's because people don't usually recognize the ways in which their culture affects their own attitudes and expectations. The reality is that different assumptions based on cultural differences can be a major barrier to effective communication, even when everyone is "speaking English."
We're preparing our students for a global culture. Regardless of whether we're talking about business, non-profit, education, missions trips or more, today's students must develop the awareness, sensitivity, knowledge, and skills needed to respect different cultural values and beliefs.
As for our international students, our vision is that they receive a great education in a Christ-centered culture, that they come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that they grow in their faith during their time at AACS and college years, and return back to their home country to spread the Gospel. Many of the students who come to our country for education go back to their own country into positions of great influence. Going back with a greater understanding and impression of Christianity is also a success for the program and the Kingdom.
So, that's why we're doing this. We're taking it slowly, making sure to do this well and in a God-honoring way that improves our culture and educational program, and better enables us to accomplish our mission.