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World Mag > WM Summer 2014 edition > The Powerful Opportunity of a Diverse Education

The Powerful Opportunity of a Diverse Education

Column by Cosmin Ghita
Cosmin Ghita
Cosmin Ghita
 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”- Nelson Mandela

 

Information is power -- this is an idiomwhich we have heard so often that it has become an axiom for us. Whilst true, one would need so much more apart from raw knowledge and facts in order to be successful and a meaningful contributor to the highly dynamic world in which we live. Our society needs wise and value- oriented individuals and not just high-performing professionals. Hence, I wouldpropose to you the following paradigm shift: education is power. Judging by the fact that a little over half of the world’s internet population (1.21 billion1) has searched for the phrase, it seems that we are not alone in this thought exercise.

 

At first sight, education is power for theindividual (or learner) at the very personal level. The learner enters the formal education system (at kindergarten) with a very simple, “child-like” identity. As he/she grows and progresses through the grades, two things simultaneously change within her. First, she learns that the world is a “huge” place that is quitebusy and complex. Her view of the worldwidens and deepens as she experiences more of life. By itself, this growing view could make her feel powerless and alienated because she may see herself as a small child in the face of this newly-understood enormous world. However,as her world is widening, education encourages a corresponding growth in her understanding of that world. For example, she is learning that, when she bleeds, her body is making new blood to replace that old blood. She need not fear that she will die every time she cuts herself. This is the individual powerof education. It helps one understand the more complex world that she/he is experiencing. Without education, she would feel unknowledgeable and powerless.

 

By interacting with the larger community the learner has the opportunity to immerse herself in the idiosyncrasies of that particular educational institution: to potentially rethink one’s identity and adopt new life-skills and values. Personally, after eight years spent in the Romanian national education system, I felt as a nut in the wall2 upon my first day at the American International School of Bucharest. I was supposed to makefriends and pals, interact with dudes, bros, mates, gals, friends, classmates and distinguished colleagues,3 while having the audacity of shortening someof my professors’ last name. I becameso enamored by the diversity of culture, traditions, experiences and generalpoints of view of my colleagues that I felt strongly that I had to contribute a unique point of view. I was surprised to see thatthe points provided by me, a scholarship Romanian student educated just like everyone else in the Romanian national system – provided the basis of interest for my colleagues as well as support for teachers to expand on the lessonstaught. I was amazed and felt I should contribute more in any way that I can soto support the ongoing activities of the school.



Consequently, I started to get involved in more extra-curricular activities in the school and also look for opportunities tovolunteer – simply because I wanted tospend more time within this fascinating diversity. With every second spent,however, I came to quickly learn andrespect the importance of values that seemed abstract and remote: community, fairness, anti-plagiarism. I was exposedto a new mode of education. There was much more shaping me than rawor processed information. I came tolove to learn -- new knowledge, skills, or attitude. Nothing seemed to be impossible to acquire and that was truly empowering.



Looking back at those years, I came torealize that due to diversity and high-standard – it was the first time I wascompelled to organize my learning experience myself to best suit my needs.In hindsight no one can liberate anotherperson by organizing his experience for him. That he must do for himself; it is his life, it is respect and an incentive to push the student to new limits. Educators are in the business of disciplining the student in the real human fashion which includes the organization of our experience in terms of dynamically interacting levels of generality and significance – whilstmaintaining the particularity of each student to maintain an upbeat learning environment: diversity. 



I would like to recognize AISB and assertmy pride for being a Vampire due to theschool’s efforts to maintain diversitywithin this value-driven educational community through programs such as the scholarship program. In a fluid and value-flexible environment, this is a school of promise. Over a number of years, it works its wonders on us and we exit into the world far better than we were when we arrived and are trusted with a mission: stand for what we believe in and make a difference in the communities inwhich we live.



Read the entire WORLD Magazine Summer 2014 edition here.
 

1 Source: Google Trends search of term [www.google.com/trends] on May 5, 2014
2 “A nut in the wall” is an ad literam translation of the Romanian phrase, “Ca nuca-n perete” which is used to depict an element that does not fit with the other elements with which it has been grouped. The author has purposely added this phrase in the op-ed.
3 Note: To this day I still cannot distinguish the nuances between dude, bro and mate.


 

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