One of the latest initiatives some Christian Schools in British Columbia, Canada, are building into their school’s vision and operational goals is the opportunity for students, staff, and the school community to build a long-term partnership with a sister school in the developing world. To participate in such an initiative is to see how God, through his spirit, is motivating Christian educators from “all tribes and nations” to establish Christian schools. School communities in the developing world eagerly seem to desire connections with experienced teachers in Christian education.
Langley Christian School, in Langley, British Columbia, entered into an agreement with Gondolikhethwa Christian School, located in Dzanani, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Gondo principal David Tshishivhiri initiated the partnership when he welcomed me, to visit the school in 2005. That visit has resulted in a flourishing connection with a large group of Venda educators and families who are keen to develop their own Christian schools. To date, three Langley staff and eight students have visited the school. Three students and the principal of Gondo have visited Langley, and a teacher and three students are planning to come this school year.
The benefit of a cross-cultural relationship between school communities is significant. Each school community is enriched by the exchange of ideas, worldviews and cultural differences. Sharing the challenges of living and teaching in a Western or African culture is one of the benefits that teachers and students experience when a relationship based on trust and hospitality becomes a reality.
If you are interested in telling the story of how your school is developing a long term partnership with a school, let the Christian Educator’s Journal editor know. For teachers who want to know more about how a school can develop a cross-cultural partnership with a school in Africa or Central America, contact Peter Van Huizen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are service organizations available that can also support the teacher or the school community. Worldwide Christian School’s “Walking Together” program is worth checking out at www.wwcs.org. This organization has Canadian and American divisions and is endorsed by Christian Schools International. The Canadian division of ACSI provides opportunities through the Dunamis Education Society. Check www.dunamiseducation.org.
The three Canadian teachers’ organizations in Ontario, the Prairies, and British Columbia are committed to encouraging cross cultural connections. Heidi Kerssies, formerly from British Columbia, and now in Ontario, heads up the Bridging Cultures project started in British Columbia ten years ago. Check the Bridging Cultures link at www.christianteachers.ca for more information.
In future issues, we will provide teachers with more information on this topic. In the next issue, we will consider cross cultural courses of study and literature that the teacher can read to prepare for expanding into a whole new educational frontier. In subsequent issues, we will provide teacher and student testimonials and build a rationale and workable model for large and small schools.