Mission or Money
by Marlene Bylenga, SCSBC International Education Coordinator ◊
How is the enrolment of international students viewed in your school? Is it simply a means of filling classrooms to capacity and generating extra revenue for your budget? Or are budgetary considerations being made in alignment with your school’s mission and vision? What are your motivations? Is your school’s mission and vision being modelled in the way that international students are integrated, instructed and cared for?
At the core of most of our schools’ mission statements is the desire for our schools to enable students to discern the culture in which they live and, as disciples of Jesus, to be a positive influence for God’s kingdom. Intercultural learning is a part of discipleship.
Shaping and casting a vision for international education requires at its very core the attitude of respect for the other as an image bearer of God. We must be eager to hear the other, and we must be driven by love for God and for one’s neighbour. Hearing from the other allows us to grow in our faith as we see how God reveals Himself in cultures other than our own.
I challenge boards and administrators to set time aside to evaluate how your school’s international program faithfully embodies the mission and vision of your school. Keep in mind that SCSBC staff are available to support you in this process. Celebrate the blessing of your international students and, if necessary, make changes to your program to allow for meaningful mutual learning.
The beauty of being a community of schools is that we can learn from and challenge each other. In the past few years there has been an increased interest in our SCSBC schools from organizations and families wishing to send their children to Canada to study. As a group of schools, it is so important that we provide quality programs which deliver a distinctive set of services. Each of our schools are unique. However, a good (or poor) experience at one of our schools can definitely impact our reputation as a group of schools.
I pray that as a community of schools, we will be able to model Christlikeness in our international programs and policies.