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International Schools: Europe

Moving on, but never forgotten:
Building modern alumni communities around international schools

International schools across the world are typically defined as places of transition. With many expatriate families staying in one location for only three to four years at a time, these school communities are well rehearsed in the art of saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. At the International School of Brussels (ISB), for example, 27% of the 1400 strong student body changes on an annual basis.

Of course, the experience of attending an international school can be wonderful, providing a context for learning in which children are happy, grow in understanding and confidently move on to further education. More than that, however, these educational experiences can leave an indelible mark that stays with people for the remainder of their lives. As one alumnus from ISB’s "Class of '82" gratefully describes: ‘Education, exposure and experience; ISB was my passport to the world.”

Consider the example set by Li-Chiang Chu, who attended Woodstock School in the foothills of the Himalayas for just one year. She has since become a legendary volunteer and major donor who travels to the school each year from her home in North America, at her own expense, to help with office and database administration tasks. In fact, she is being recognized this year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, an international organization, with an award for alumni volunteer involvement in recognition of her dedication to the school.

The point is simple. When you spend your childhood moving around the capitals of the world, you still need to ‘belong’ and find a place to call ‘home’. And for many, this home is associated with the transformative experience offered by some of the world’s best international schools.

These same international schools are developing increasingly responsive alumni associations that keep students connected with friends dispersed around the globe and help maintain their identity as world citizens. And, with the advent of new electronic communication tools, what was once an annual printed directory of names and addresses is today becoming a sophisticated online community where friends can continue to share information, meet and collaborate within a virtual space, anytime, anywhere.

For the schools themselves, however, the development of these powerful social networks can also have another purpose. Indeed, the institutions investing resources into establishing and maintaining effective alumni associations are, at the same time, more generally focused on building relationships with external constituencies who can help them fulfill their mission. And the reason for this is that they have come to understand that alumni, parents, grandparents, community leaders, and other friends of the institution represent an extremely powerful but often untapped resource.

International schools typically seek financial support from these constituencies, but also support that takes the form of advocacy, one-to-one marketing, and volunteered talent.

One of the main challenges for most international schools continues to be how they can provide a world-class learning environment at an affordable cost. It is perhaps for this reason above all others that schools are reaching out to former students and their families in new and exciting ways. This outreach will be key to ensuring that the children of tomorrow have an opportunity to benefit from the same experiences as those who attended before them were able to enjoy.

Kevin Bartlett
Board Chair, Council of International Schools

John Lippincott
President, Council for Advancement and Support of Education

Newsweek Showcase Archive Articles:

Transforming international education through technology

One of the many challenges faced by today's international schools is how technology, coupled with other developments in instructional practice, can improve learning for........
Michael Crowley, Head of Middle School, International School of Brussels andDoug Stone, IT Director, International School of Brussels

The world is their oyster:

Worldwide, college/university application numbers are up and the admissions process has become increasingly competitive. While most students tend to choose higher education .......
Rick Cameron & Phil Moss

Corporate investment in the future of our schools

There are no longer blanks on the world map. Old atlases with areas of pink indicating uncharted land have been replaced by satellite .......
Robert Brindley & David Willows

A student view on the experience of international education

The benefits of an international school are varied and far-reaching. Whether you're learning to appreciate exotic cuisine........
Aisling Daly, ISB Class of 2008

The New Eurotrotters: Freedom to Work, Freedom to Learn

A United Europe provides its citizens with unprecedented freedom of movement. European universities compete for students. International companies compete for........
Kevin Bartlett, Director, International School of Brussels, Belgium, Chair, Board of the Council of International Schools. Kari Kivinen, Director, European School (Uccle), Brussels, Belgium

Learning Outside the International School Classroom: A Student's View

Two international school students share their experience of learning through Arts and Sports in an international school setting.......
Drew Zaremba,Eric Hamblett,Dr. David Willows of International School of Brussels (ISB)

Campaigning to Change the Landscape of Energy: International schools and the fight against climate change

In 2005, the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport of the European Commission launched Sustainable Energy Europe 2005-2008, an unprecedented campaign aimed at ensuring greater public awareness, understanding and........
Kevin Bartlett, Director, International School of Brussels, Belgium

The 21st Century Dispositions

Hard-nosed vs. soft-hearted, financial focus vs. academic focus, the real world vs. the rarified world - these are just some of the traditional ways that have characterized the world of business vs. the world of academia........
Kevin Bartlett, Director, International School of Brussels, Belgium

International Education: an industry, an ideal, an individual choice

The origin of international education was largely pragmatic. With the post-war growth of an expatriate workforce, the need arose........
Kevin Bartlett - Director, International School of Brussels & William H Gerritz - Director, International School of Bangkok

Setting Standards, Improving Schools - How accreditation drives quality in international education

There are no longer blanks on the world map. Old atlases with areas of pink indicating uncharted land have been replaced by satellite .......
Kevin Bartlett and Richard Tangye - Council of International Schools

One School, One Classroom: Student Perspectives on International Education

ISB is like many international schools around the world with 1500 students, aged 2 to 19, from 70 countries........
ISB Middle School Students: Ciaran Daly, Gabrielle Flowers, Mubah Rafi, Max Passler, Erum Khalid, Mikala Skelton and Mackenzie Sambuco.

The Benefits of an International School Education

International schools are no newcomers to the educational marketplace - but there are ......
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