Friday, July 27, 2012

A Certain Kind of Community

It has now been just about two months since I arrived at SJI International, “fresh from the boat” as they say, and eager to encounter the new environment and community here in Singapore. In that respect, my initial experience has not been very different from that of many of the young people who come to the Elementary School or the High School for the first time. We are both fascinated by all of the new experiences that we encounter (What is that red sauce? Did I understand that person? I wonder if they expect me to do something now? What do all those acronyms mean?) and we are comforted by the fact that people are the same the world over. Plus, thankfully, Lasallian schools carry common characteristics that are as welcome as they are familiar.

One of the primary characteristics of a Lasallian school revolves around a certain kind of community. People come together for all kinds of purposes and causes. Many times, community is formed because it will enable individuals to accomplish something that they really want for themselves or for their interests. There is nothing wrong with that. The difference in a Lasallian community is that the purpose is focused on others, on the growth and improvement of others, on the future of others, on the spiritual life of others. The reason that teachers and administrators come together in a school is to accomplish something that will touch the hearts and minds of each student.

All great teachers and all genuine teachers (which makes them great) have taken on that vocation because of who they are and how they see themselves as people of integrity, people who are honest with themselves. Many of them could have been quite successful in other industries, and perhaps they were in other industries. But there was a generous spirit, an intellectual curiosity, and a hunger for personal encounter that drew them to the sometimes messy vocation of the classroom. It is there that they have found out who they really were, and it is there that they bring out the best in those confided to their care.

I am very happy to be here with the Brothers in Singapore and to be able to be part of the educational community at SJI International. I am looking forward to many fine opportunities to further appreciate Lasallian education as it is lived in a culture that is different from my own. 

I’m on a rather steep learning curve, but that keeps things fresh and exciting. Just like class.