Being exposed to different cultures allow us to expand our horizons and learn new things. It’s especially important during the developmental stages of school-going children because they are taught tolerance, understanding, and sensitivity to cultures that are different to their own.
Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures. It is a sophisticated blend of East and West. While you will find many of the Chinese traditions are alive and well in Hong Kong, you will also find an enthusiasm around Western culture, specifically surrounding the major Holidays.
Conversely, in Mainland China, while western culture is steadily growing, the predominant cultural focus is traditional Chinese.
Students attending international schools in Hong Kong are in a great position to learn about other cultures first hand. They will likely make friends with students from different backgrounds and be exposed to varying traditions and customs. Because the students in Hong Kong come from such diverse backgrounds, English is the predominant language spoken in these school halls. Studies show that not only do bilingual children develop better reading and writing comprehension, but it’s also good for their health and brain function. Students from International Hong Kong schools will graduate with a much higher level of English literacy than students in a Mainland Chinese school who are not exposed to as much conversational English.
In Hong Kong, the East, West fusion can be felt in every facet of the city from the holiday practices, languages spoken, cuisine on offer and even within the arts. In this blog, we highlight 5 reasons why cultural diversity exposure is so important for children of school-going age.
1. Fostering Resilience
Children who are exposed to different lifestyles and different outlooks, are taught that there is more than one way to see the world. Nothing is black or white. In this way, they understand that people can think and feel in many different ways and no one way is right or wrong. The more children see and comprehend that life can be approached from a variety of different angles and that there is no one size fits all approach, the better equipped they will be to handle fluctuations in their own lives and be able to thrive in different environments.
2. Developing Flexibility
Children who are exposed to many different ideas, learn to think about things from more than one perspective. This is especially helpful in the age of social media where children are exposed to harmful ideas and negative thinking online. Armed with the ability to appreciate the nuances of life and the fact that many conflicting ideas can hold water at the same time, they will be less susceptible to these destructive messages and more flexible with their own opinions.
Flexibility will also help them offline where they will be able to navigate the highs and lows of their lives more easily, and avoid making instinctive negative judgements about themselves and others.
3. Nurturing Sensitivity
Children who are introduced to cultural diversity early, are taught general social sensitivity at a young age. Later in life, they will be more likely to try and engage with people who speak different languages.
International schools in Hong Kong afford students the opportunity to interact with others that look and speak in ways they are not familiar with. These ‘differences’ become normal to the children and thus develops their tolerance levels and broadens their minds. This allows them to be more open minded to different ideas. Because the world is made up of so many diverse cultures, being exposed to these differences helps young people to embrace and appreciate people that are different from them. The more children interact with other children from different cultures, the more they respect and value them.
The research shows that young children will still imitate others regardless of language being spoken. Children are hungry to learn and by immersing them in culturally diverse activities, they learn to be more comfortable around different races, religions, languages, and lifestyles. They become citizens of the world and will understand social cues better. Later in life, they will have the confidence to make many friends and feel comfortable in a multitude of different settings.
4. Set-up for Success
The confidence to feel comfortable in a wide variety of environments will set children up for success in their chosen careers once they graduate. Since they already have the practice of learning to work with others regardless of race or religion, they will be equipped to incorporate those attitudes well into adulthood. They will get along with different colleagues and can even pursue careers abroad as they will be open to learning about different cultures and ideas.
5. Seeing the World Anew
Because Hong Kong is such a tapestry of cultures, International Schools in this city allow children to see the world through a different lens. By tasting a friend’s food, they are not familiar with, or learning about a new holiday, or even the roots of certain religious traditions, their picture of the world is enhanced and coloured brighter. Being exposed to new things helps children to explore the world better and makes it a much more interesting and exciting place to live in.
At ME Education, we are proud of the cultural diversity among our students. We believe that cultivating a generation of open minded, flexible and sensitive adults is surely in our best interest.
To learn more about our approach, please contact us directly.