Being globally connected has never been easier with the profusion of digital communication tools. I know this all too well as I have a globalised family whom I connect with every day. New and innovative forms of communication have broken the barriers that could have stood in the way of talking to my daughters in Australia and South Korea or my son in New York.
However, while technology has enabled our family to stay in touch, it will never surpass human interaction. Dancing our fingertips across a keyboard or talking into a screen does not bring the rich cultural experiences, the meaningful friendships, or the deep empathy that human connectedness and face-to-face conversations engender.
Here at Woodford we are privileged to connect with friends from across the globe either through welcoming international students or providing our girls with student exchange and travel opportunities. Last week we welcomed two students from Nashville, Tennessee who are here on a reciprocal exchange after Year 12 student Caitlin Maiorana spent the summer at their school, Harpeth Hall. We are also fortunate to have girls from Japan, Thailand, France, Futuna Island, China, South Korea and Hong Kong.
These girls have travelled a long way to gain a high quality education in one of New Zealand’s top schools, but they are also here to connect with others, to make friends, to grow as people and to develop cultural competence – a skill that is becoming highly sought after as globalisation and international trade increases.
Cultural competence, also known as cultural intelligence, is the ability to relate and work effectively across cultures. A World Economic Forum report found that cultural intelligence (CQ) is one of the sixteen key 21st century skills.
As our international girls gain a higher level of cultural intelligence, they also make us aware of our own culture and the nuance of other cultures. They bring diversity to the School, which helps us gain a deeper understanding of the world we live in.
It has been wonderful to see the girls realise that although their home towns are hundreds of kilometres apart and their languages and food are different, their needs are identical. The language of happiness, empathy, love and respect is universal and, as parents, you will be proud to see your daughters generously giving up their time to welcome our guests into the Woodford family.
As one of our school’s guiding principles states, “we nurture an inclusive and collaborative community underpinned by our Christian ethos”.
It is a privilege to see this unfolding every day at Woodford House and, together, we are creating a global village through meaningful relationships fostered by human connectedness.
Mrs Julie Peterson, Principal