Finally able to blog again after having another bad season of allergies and swamped with the growth of the program. We ended up with 105 kids in 17 schools in Houston and Austin. You can imagine a lot of logistics coordinating the students, teachers and keeping the parents informed.
A few parents were surprised that I started a cultural program and not a language program since I am a polyglot who speaks 6 languages. Here is my blog post to answer this question.
There are so many language programs everywhere making it very difficult for new programs to differentiate themselves. Not to mention that throughout my life, I have met many who have spent 18 years or more learning one language and only remember greetings. So I asked myself quite a few times how effective are language programs that do not immerse its students. I came to the conclusion that a part from being difficult to keep up; the results are minimal and the long term value is not high enough. I did not want to start off with a program that had low long term success ratings. Now on the flip side of being immersed; the success rate is much higher. But I thought after 18 years the student has become competent in his/her mother language and the language from school. There are so many languages in the world; you cannot pick one other language that will fit all.
We have all experienced this to some extent once we started work. We are so proud of your Spanish or Chinese and go to work for an international company. Your first oversees trip is to Germany, France or Japan. Hmmm now what? We are still lost as if we didn’t learn the second language for 18 years. Or you are given a project to work virtually with residents who are in those countries. Or we get to travel to China or a Spanish speaking country to find our accent is from a different city. Beijing Chinese versus Shanghai Chinese is very different.
Cultural conflicts and lack of cultural understanding has been found to create most of the problems that cause projects to be unsuccessful. These result in delayed schedules, increased costs, cancelled contracts and bad negotiations and hostile work environments. Having gone through one experience doesn’t make the next project any easier either.
I had fond memories of my favorite subject in school being Social Studies and Geography. After 26 years I still remember Diwali, Eid, Carnival and the customs that go along with these and more. So after going to South Korea and Indonesia assimilating was like being at home. In the case of South Korea, I knew everything including the language but for Indonesia, I didn’t know the language but I knew the culture and all was still well.
I thought and thought and lightbulb….what if we teach a cultural program instead? Language is easily forgotten or takes lots of work to keep up but Culture lasts a lifetime.
Fast forward 2 years and we have been able to help kids understand their heritages, build positive friendships and jumpstart for global opportunities. Our kindergarteners and 1st grade kids after 1 year still remember learning about India and the Indian culture – the music, the dances, clothing, art, animals and food.
We have definitely made the right decision going this route. Kids who continue our programs from Kinder to 12th grade will be able to learn 1/3 of the world; a total of 60 countries!!! This will enable them to effectively cross cultural barriers to have successful teams and projects in school and later at work. The chances of them working with someone from one of the 60 countries is extremely high.
We are truly able to help kids have a Jumpstart for Global Opportunities!!!