Not Such a Small World

Walking into Sumner Recital Hall, we are greeted by a sea of colorful banners. These flags represent countries from which The Academy has welcomed students and staff as members of our community over our 36-year history. The wide array of flags represents a curious and exciting constellation of locales, and makes our sweet, small school in rural Western Massachusetts feel a little bit bigger.

We have long been proud of our International Student program. Under Madame Mauri’s steady hand, this program reaches out all over the world – to Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East – to locate like-minded students. These students come from families who seek an experience for their children unlike anything they can find in their homelands. We screen our international students just as rigorously as we do our local students to make sure that they will be happy, contributing members of our Academy family. And unlike most other independent schools, who look to international students and their tuition merely to balance their budgets, we seek out these students to make our community a more diverse, interesting place for all students.

But having them here requires us all to help. We always need families who are willing to host a student. This experience is like none other: it grows your family and introduces a new child and sibling into your lives. Besides the financial and logistical support we provide to host families, we do everything we can to make sure this experience becomes one you cherish forever.

For those families who cannot host, we need your help too. Invite an international student for dinner one night, or to a movie, or to join your family for a dance recital. Go to MassMOCA or just hang out at the mall. The APC is currently brainstorming such opportunities on their Facebook page. I ask that each and every Academy family invite one student to join them once per yearfor some such family activity. These students want to get to know you and share in your family’s life.

As of next week we will have four international students. They are not our guests: they are our friends, our neighbors, our students. Let’s all do our part to make them feel at home in our wonderful, large family.