by Jos Hartley, ES Vice Principal and PYP Coordinator
I have always loved change. From a young age, I have been very familiar with the concept. My family moved cities and homes often, and as a child, it was always exciting for me. I relished the anticipation of the unknown, the chance to live in a new house, have a new bedroom and yard to play in and always with the expectation that I would have new friends and places to explore.
This love of new experiences has stayed with me over the years. I began my career in education in Australia, but it wasn’t long before I sought opportunities in international schools. I moved to Singapore and then Germany and back to Singapore again before heading home to Melbourne where I put down roots of sorts for the past five years or so. My international school experiences afforded me the opportunity to hone my skills and knowledge as an educator in different school contexts, to travel, to learn about other cultures and geographical locations, and in the process develop a deep sense of appreciation for the differences and commonalities of people around the world.
My decision to move to YIS was incredibly easy. YIS is known for its excellence in providing a truly international education for its students. It’s also known for its community - one of caring and collaborative intent. The school values of peace, responsibility and honesty, and the focus on service to the community says a lot about the kind of heart the school has. So I was excited!
And who would have known that a move to Yokohama would come with it the emerging COVID-19 pandemic and the campus closure, social distancing and isolating - things that are generally the opposite of what I would look for as an expatriate joining a new community. It was not what I had imagined at all of course.
The YIS values of live, learn, lead could not be more real for me at this time of Continuous Learning. To observe students communicating with their teachers and classmates virtually and responding to tasks with creativity and commitment is exciting. To collaborate with teachers, who teach to the hearts and minds of their students, who offer support, who cooperate faithfully to the shifts in the decisions made as the school leadership responds to new information, is a privilege. Receiving positive and practical feedback from parents, many of whom are juggling work while supporting their children in their learning at home, and to know that Dragon Dining is in the school, creating delicious meals for families, is testament to the strength and solidarity in this community. The resilience, confidence and perseverance in our community, is inspiring. I am in awe of it and so grateful to be part of it.
My curious self wonders, what will come from all of this? What innovations, what lessons, how can this be made meaningful and useful? We all seek to know the answers, and perhaps they are in fact different for you than for me.
My family is at home in Australia ‘staying home’ now, as we are. And while we are far away from each other geographically, the ability to see each other face to face in real-time because of the incredible innovations in technology, none of which I foresaw as a child, makes me so happy. How I appreciate that.
Unexpected change challenges us to be resilient and at times, patient. This current challenge requires us to take care of those around us and to take strength from those who reach out to us. I will relish when I can go home, to family and friends and to the familiar Aussie landscape some time, I don’t know when. In the meanwhile, I am very grateful that I am part of this particular international community.