Reasons to love the European School Heraklion #8

#8 It creates citizens of the world

The Greeks have a saying: παπουτσι απ’ τον τόπο σου κι ας είν’ και μπαλωμένο (shoe from your own place even if it’s mended). It means that a partnership is more likely to succeed if it’s with someone from the same background. People sometimes use it to advise against mixed marriages. The idea, I suppose, is that people from the same background will understand each other better, have similar habits, and work together more smoothly.

I doubt if this was ever true (though perhaps it made sense in the past, when Greeks were under foreign occupation and needed to rely heavily on each other). But even if a shared culture does helps people work together, it’s not something our children will be able to take for granted. With globalization, multiculturalism, and mass migration, they will have to learn to get on with people from very different backgrounds. They will need to walk with others’ shoes.

It’s vital, then, that we introduce our kids to new situations and that we equip them with the linguistic, social, and cognitive skills needed to build partnerships with people who have different languages, beliefs, and habits. (Indeed, there’s evidence that linguistic and social skills reinforce each other.)

And this is exactly what the European School does. There, students, parents, and teachers from many different backgrounds come together on a daily basis to learn, work, play, and socialize. It is a unique community, which works precisely because it draws on the different skills each member brings. We have many shoes, from many different places, and we walk the better for it!

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