While watching the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremonies of the end-of-year school fair, it struck me how culturally diverse my children’s international school in Singapore really was. Trying to identify the 70 different flags proudly carried by students in their native dress is still a vivid memory ten years later.
Cultural diversity is celebrated at international school events like this around the world. Not just at the big events, but in the daily interactions of the students, faculty and parents. It’s inherent in the International Baccalaureate (IB), the chosen curriculum in over 5,000 schools around the world, where the mission is, “to promote intercultural understanding and respect, not as an alternative to a sense of cultural and national identity, but as an essential part of life in the 21st century.”
So, when a family is moving abroad or a local family is looking to enroll in an international school, cultural diversity is often a factor in their decision process. Many are looking for a different experience compared to their home country. And, it’s not just about the student experience. Faculty, staff, and parents are a big part of the mix.
In a recent ISC Research survey, Why Parents Select an International School, they found that, “some international schools have traditionally found that a key to their success was the active engagement of student families and school staff, not only in supporting the students and their learning, but also in creating a stronger school community and ethos. For many of these schools, and for many expatriate teachers, this school community has remained a significant part of international school life.”
Many international schools average over 50 -70 different nationalities and are bursting with diversity in and out of the classroom.
Does Your Website Showcase the Cultural Diversity at Your School?
With a school’s website being the core communications pillar of their admissions, marketing, faculty and staff recruitment efforts, evaluating it through a culturally diverse lens is critical.
Through the lens of cultural diversity, does your school website:
Engage site visitors through storytelling using design, navigation and calls-to-action?
Delight, engage and connect through vivid photography?
Connect and identify with a broad array of testimonials from your community?
Inform and educate through succinct and crisply written text?
Convey information quickly through infographics and maps?
Include effective website translation?
With hundreds of websites to choose from, the international team at Finalsite chose these exemplary websites that showcase cultural diversity through photography, text, infographics, testimonials, and more.
From the moment you land on this website, it’s obvious UNIS Hanoi values cultural diversity. The name alone proclaims the diversity of the school, and their About page clearly frames its mission: “The United Nations International School of Hanoi is committed to inspiring and equipping young people to build a better world. We bring the world together on one campus and guided by the Principles of the United Nations mentor peace makers and problem solvers.”
The scrolling homepage tells a story through photography, infographics, testimonials, an assorted college destination slider, and website translation into their most popular languages.
Although this school has American in its name, AOSR is anything but just American. Its scrolling homepage leads with a hero image stating “Where Diversity is Celebrated” and further down the page an infographic showcases 52 nationalities.
The Voices From the Community shows the cultural diversity of the school through images, testimonials, and flags. Within seconds of landing on this website, you see and understand the importance of cultural diversity at AOSR.
As you dive deeper into the site, cultural diversity continues to be highlighted through both students and staff. Faculty recruitment at international schools is becoming more and more competitive and AOSR has done a great job celebrating their global educators.
And the parent experience is also important. This school captures it well on their community landing page with the resolute statement Multicultural By Design.
Jakarta Intercultural School’s website does an amazing job balancing the diversity of the community and the rich heritage of their host country. The scrolling homepage includes many of the elements outlined above but one thing truly unique is their use of Batik to connect with the local community. JIS collaborated with local artisans to create handcrafted textile designs for their school, and in the process created their own Indonesian batik pattern which is used throughout the website and physical campus.
A unique page that you often don’t see is one dedicated to Inclusion and Diversity. JIS made it even more inclusive by using Weglot, a product that seamlessly integrates with Finalsite’s Composer CMS, and enables visitors to translate website pages on-the-fly.
The school’s Come Work at JIS shows a number of smart ways to attract prospective faculty. Here’s just one example: “Jakarta is at the heart of a nation that comprises over 300 ethnic groups with their own languages and cuisines across its more than 17,000 tropical islands. There is no shortage of culture to explore.”
Graded includes a homepage video montage that immediately brings to life the diversity of the school through classroom activities, extracurriculars, graduation, and beyond. It’s so well done!
The scrolling homepage also calls out their diversity through infographics. Many schools don’t include their alumni on their homepage journey but Graded does this cleverly. With a click, you are guided to the alumni section where you see the history of cultural diversity through the lens of the Alumni Spotlights.
And for families and faculty looking to learn more about the school, the Graded at a Glance is perfect for quickly conveying the cultural diversity of the school. This site is cleverly sprinkled throughout with elements of cultural diversity.
The American International School of Johannesburg's homepage leads with hero slider images that are captioned with words including Culture, Connect, Community, and Diversity which is a great introduction to its story.
As you scroll further down the page an interactive map showcases where their 107 students hail from. This certainly is “Diversity Personified.”
“Diversity and inclusion encourage open-mindedness and empathy” is part of the mission statement, set by their Board of Directors. Each board member’s bio details the breadth and depth of their experiences.
Finalsite has the pleasure of working with hundreds of schools in over 110 countries. Selecting just a few to showcase here was a challenge but here are some other schools that are worth commending.
As you look at your website, these international school websites are a good starting point for cultural diversity best practices. Our team would be happy to discuss your unique needs and offer suggestions for improvement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As part of Finalsite's marketing team, Debbie has worked with international schools for the past 11 years while living in both Asia and Europe. She helps schools understand how they can maximize their web presence while partnering with Finalsite. As a parent of three children who graduated from IB World Schools, she has keen insights into the marketing and communication needs of international schools.