In Our Words

Being Kind
Being Kind

Being Kind

by Elise Vitty, Secondary School Principal

'We are supportive of each other' is a YIS value; and one of the best ways we do that is by being kind to each other.

Moving from Colombia to Japan has been an incredible learning experience for me. As I reflect on the first weeks settling into my new home, I was expecting to notice the many differences between Colombia and Japan, but instead have been struck by the commonality of kindness in the two cultures. Arriving in this country has been a time of thorough excitement. It has been a time when simple acts of kindness from people, like a smile or a even a door being held open, have meant so much. You may have been kind to someone and you don't realise just how much it meant to that person.

During a recent meeting, parents were asked to reflect on this question: What do you hope your children become by the time they leave high school?

I didn't hear anyone answer by saying 'a doctor' or 'a designer', but I did hear a few parents say 'happy'. Another parent added, 'I hope my son is kind'.

I was attracted to YIS because it is a community shaped by a shared set of values; hearing this parent's answer really illustrated that to me. We are all different, and that diversity is celebrated, but our YIS values mean we can collectively say 'this is what we believe in' and 'this is who we are'.

We all want students to achieve their academic potential at school, but mastering habits to become morally robust is arguably even more important during these developmental years. As Gandhi said, "...your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny." When we are conscious about practising the habit of daily kindness and inspiring others to do the same, then those habits eventually become who we are.

Since it started in the 1960s, the International Baccalaureate Organisation has been driven by a strong moral purpose to make a difference in the world through education. Siva Kumari, the IB's first female Director General, says, "We teach students to analyze and adapt their patterns of thought and how they act on them. It is about living life consciously and reflectively; this requires habits to be honed throughout their school years."

The IB educates students to be critical thinkers who are principled - dispositions that carve their path for the rest of their life. A strong set of values, together with lifelong learning skills, is the key to making a difference in today´s globalized and complex world. This is certain now more than ever before.

Since I arrived at YIS I have seen, true to our values, that we learn in an incredibly supportive environment striving to be the best versions of ourselves in all that that entails. This supportive culture is precious, and the impact of kindness within the community and beyond cannot be underestimated. World Kindness Day is on November 13 but we'll endeavour to celebrate it everyday as being kind is easy to do.

Siva Kumari, Director General of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)