"As a child, I attended international schools in Haiti and Kenya. Those experiences have helped me now as a Director of The American School of Barcelona relate to the families and students. I am often asked by parents who are considering leaving their country for the first time, what are the advantages of an international education?”
Mark Pingitore, Director
At the American School of Barcelona, I would start with the level of education. We are able to attract a very high quality staff due to Barcelona´s cultural richness and geographic advantages. Many international teachers have received top level training, gained mastery and experience in their home countries, and are adventurous and open minded. A school´s quality and level of instruction are deeply connected with the educators who are in the room with the students.
In addition, an international school provides a diverse, motivated student body. For example, at The American School of Barcelona, we have over forty different nationalities. The mix of students from the different countries and cultures seems to create an atmosphere of increased awareness and relevance in the academic studies. International students tend to travel more and be informed about the world. Furthermore, many of our native English speaker students gain fluency in Spanish. In fact, many students speak at a minimum three languages. The multiple perspectives in class conversation and debate are authentic and stimulating - and our students develop into incredible, multilingual communicators.
While at ASB, our students and their families are able to easily visit other Spanish cities and cultures and quickly reach Italy, France, Portugal, and Morocco. These cultural connections are also aided by international schools. For instance, at The American School of Barcelona, we encourage our students to participate in Model United Nations, the New European Speech and Debate Association and our many sports teams that travel to other countries and allow our students to connect with an even greater global community. The international student body in general is more sophisticated, informed, and nuanced. These students excel in rigorous academic programs such as our successful International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
There is a time of adaptation, stress, and frustration. However, over time our students appreciate what may have frustrated them and see that they have grown and adapted. In fact, I am often contacted by American School of Barcelona families who have moved to another country or have recently graduated from our school. These alumni parents and students are almost always extremely grateful for their international experience, schooling, and time in Barcelona. They want to stay in touch and they feel connected even though we may be an ocean apart.
The blend of a dynamic teaching body, international student make up, rich cultural experience, travel, and personal challenges creates a transformation. Our students´ view of the globe expands their empathy of others increases, and they become more intellectually curious about the world around them. It is not a surprise with these experiences and the academic programs that international school students have a high acceptance rate into elite universities around the world. They evolve into well balanced young adults who excel in their university studies and later in the work place.