There are many reasons foreigners could be in your class. They could be sons and daughters of foreign ambassadors. They could be part of an exchange program. They could be migrants who arrived from their home countries. Whatever their reasons are for being there, they will teach domestic students how to embrace a new culture.
Unfortunately, this isn't always the case even in an international school in the Philippines or other countries. Domestic students prefer to interact with their domestic peers. International students share their time with their co-nationals. They are also likely to be friends with other foreign peers. Studies show that there is a low interaction between domestic and international students.
Benefits of the Presence of Foreign Students
There are psychological and social benefits when sharing the classroom with a foreign student. Foreign students bring an international perspective in the classroom. They often challenge their teachers to do better than those in their home countries. They raise issues that happen outside the host country. They question the methods that teachers use in teaching them concepts and theories.
At the tertiary level, professors rarely change their teaching methods. They believe that foreign students are mature enough to adapt to this new classroom environment. It's quite different in the primary and secondary levels. Teachers have to make a conscious effort to make the international students feel welcome. They need to guide these students through the new environment.
Impact on the Institution
When it comes to the academic institution itself, it should do its part in embracing the international students. Teachers do their best to research new teaching methods that accommodate the foreign students. The institution should organise cultural programs that raise awareness about different cultures and traditions.
But what about health and support services? Are institutions ready for the support needed by international students? These foreign students face immense pressure and stress from being away from their home countries. The school's counsellors should be ready to meet their needs.
High-level Cultural Differences Affect Interaction
Foreign students from Europe, for example, have an easier time adjusting to their new life in America. This is especially true if they share the same mother tongue, such as Americans and the British. Studies show that it gets tough for the students to interact if there is a high level of cultural differences between the host and home countries. For example, Asians in Europe or the U.S. often find it hard to adjust to a new culture. This is true even if they speak the same language.
That's why Asian students prefer to interact with their co-nationals. Domestic students don't have the necessary drive to reach out to their foreign peers, especially if they cannot find similarities with them. Such attitudes in the classroom will most likely affect the benefits that the presence of foreign students bring.
It is the school's administration's responsibility to create an environment that will allow all students - whether domestic or foreign - to thrive. It is also the school's responsibility to make these foreign students feel welcome and embrace their cultural differences. By creating programs and activities that put foreign and domestic students together, the school will create intercultural friendships they wouldn't otherwise know.