Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
At TGS, we approach education with an innovator’s mindset, constantly exploring new ways to bolster our students’ ability to wonder and learn. This approach is possible due to our unwavering commitment to our eight core values. These philosophies are drawn from countries across the world and inform every aspect of a TGS education.
A key consideration to understanding core values at THINK Global School is our belief that they are not hardwired or fixed in our community members. We believe that there is room for continual growth in each. With this in mind, our cohorts often select a core value to focus on for a period of time — this could be for a day or even as long as an entire term.
Read on to learn more about each of our eight core values.
The first THINK Global School core value is empathy. Our community has an expectation that we treat others with understanding, compassion, and respect. Given the diversity of our student body (our 60 students hail from 31 countries), exercising empathy allows our students to better understand one another, consider each other’s viewpoints, and build relationships of trust.
As a school with such a heavy focus on travel, empathy is also hugely important in helping our students see the global community as living harmoniously rather than as a world populated with individuals and outsiders.
Many of our project’s driving questions frame problems faced in one corner of the world as holding consequences for everyone (the destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil being an example). Empathy means working towards shared goals, something we as a community embrace.
Traveling to dozens of countries and living in each one of them taught me a lot. I’m aware of Botswana’s conservation issues, geometric patterns of Indian architectures, Japan’s cultural uniqueness, ethnic conflict in the Basque Country — the list goes on. But what has most strongly stuck with me after years of traveling isn’t all this knowledge, but rather a natural empathy towards others, whoever they might be.
-Class of 2020 Alum Soeun Kim
The second THINK Global School core value is grit, a concept borrowed from American culture to encapsulate the idea of perseverance. At TGS, we motivate students to embody grit by embracing challenges with passion and courage.
Every term offers opportunities for students to challenge themselves physically and show their grit. This is especially true of the first term of the school year when new students participate in a Rite of Passage. Typically tech-free, these rites of passage ask our students to push themselves to their limits via hikes, mountain climbing, and other arduous outdoor activities. These opportunities to show grit also help our students break through their preconceived physical and mental barriers, strengthen their community ties, and demonstrate leadership skills.
Grit doesn’t just manifest itself physically, however. Mental and emotional resilience plays just as important a role in our students’ development, and some academics argue that grit plays just as much of a role in student success as intelligence.
Applying Grit to Project-based Learning
Project-based learning is at the center of our curriculum, and each student is required to complete at least one mastery project during their time at THINK Global School. These deep dives into a particular subject require students to focus and persevere, going back to the drawing board over and over again. This process embodies grit, and it’s a valuable 21st-century skill that will help students succeed in every stage of their lives.
My time at TGS has taught me that everything can be seen from an almost unlimited number of perspectives. It’s given me the capability to survive and thrive anywhere in the world — from the middle of the Omani desert to a Shaolin kung fu temple in China.
-Class of 2020 Alum Amelie Andreas
改善 Kaizen (Japanese)
The third THINK Global School core value is kaizen, a concept borrowed from Japanese culture to encapsulate the idea of continual improvement by being self-aware, responsible, and disciplined.
Kaizen plays a daily role in our students’ lives. They are regularly learning new skills and mastering ones that motivate them to create meaningful change. The pursuit of kaizen is especially evident in the personal projects they select to work on, where they have the freedom to concentrate on topics and disciplines of their choosing.
Take filmmaking, for example. Students might learn early on through their studies at TGS that they have a passion for filmmaking. They can demonstrate kaizen by learning new techniques and software programs and by showing continual improvement in the quality of their work. They might even select to base a mastery project around filmmaking.
Like grit, this commitment to improvement and discipline will benefit students immensely in life and likely indicate a potential path of study or career choice.
A Community Affair
Like all of our core values, it isn’t just students who practice kaizen — it’s our entire community. Each term offers opportunities for our educators to demonstrate kaizen by building upon their teaching practices and applying feedback to project modules. This positive kaizen cycle means the THINK Global School curriculum is ever-evolving in a positive way, and students who attend in future years will benefit from past experiences.
At TGS, I learned that to think globally is not only to dare to dream, but to dare to actualize those dreams. To think globally is to strive to see the larger problem and recognize that change occurs in the tiny details. The value of thinking has more weight than the value of knowing at THINK Global School.
-Class of 2022 Alum Njeri Njoroge
The fourth core value is meraki, a word used by the Greeks to signify putting all of yourself – your soul, creativity, and love – into your work. At THINK Global School, meraki is ever-present due to our student-centered Changemaker Curriculum.
By allowing students to lead their learning, we regularly see them go the extra mile during projects to make their work memorable. Whether it’s taking that extra bit of time to make sure calculations are precise or spending hours on a piece of art to get it just right, meraki can be found everywhere at TGS.
I was searching for a place where I could show my talent, share my views, and actually build what I dream. TGS came into my life unexpectedly, but it left a lasting impact. It became my home. My educators challenged me to raise my bar, my friends became my pillars of support, my roommate taught me to pierce through difficulties, and my experiences carved me into a better self.
-Class of 2022 Alum Madhu Somu Dinakaran
Pixki “The Guardian” (Náhuatl)
The fifth core value is pixki, a Nahuatl word for guardian, which signifies modifying your actions to protect the environment by adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. Nahuatl is historically known as Aztec and is still spoken by roughly 1.7 million Indigenous Nahuas in Mexico today.
CM2 Student Pabi Nchoba uses a reusable water bottle during her visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman
Pixki was developed by Isa Moro Luna, Mafer Diaz de Leon, and Paula Marquina Gurrea, a trio of students (now alumni) hailing from Mexico 🇲🇽. For their pixki project, they asked the driving question: “How can we make the TGS journey greener?” and developed an action plan with a way to do so.
By practicing pixki, our staff and students actively engage in positive actions that promote environmental stewardship, help to reduce their carbon footprint, and produce less waste.
“Earth is our bigger community. Through being aware of how our actions affect systems larger than ourselves, we take a step towards becoming better global citizens. Remember, no positive action is too small.” -Isa, Mafer, and Paula
求知欲 Qiú Zhi Yù (Mandarin)
The sixth core value is 求知欲 qiú zhi yù, a Chinese principle pertaining to the thirst for knowledge — to be open, curious, and to challenge assumptions.
Qiú zhi yù is central to the school’s mission statement:
THINK Global School challenges learners, through firsthand experiences of global travel, to become compassionate individuals who are curious and knowledgeable about the world and motivated to affect meaningful change.
Perhaps more than any of our other core values, Qiú zhi yù is something we look for in our students during the admissions process. Without innate curiosity, an openness to learning new things, and the ability to change preconceived notions, a prospective student is unlikely to flourish at THINK Global School.
And for those applicants who do end up attending THINK Global School, every moment is an opportunity to practice qiú zhi yù:
- Through interactions with peers and educators
- Through interactions with the local community
- And through interactions with experts on an immeasurable range of subjects
It’s hard to overstate the importance of qiú zhi yù within our community, and we’re proud to have it included among our core values.
TGS prompted me to think in a different way and to be in charge of my learning. I started to question things around me more and started to think about what I am really passionate about and how I can use those passions to benefit me and the people around me.
-Class of 2020 Alum Mak Atireklapwarodom
The seventh core value is satya, a Sanskrit word for living truth in a way that is honest, steadfast, and uplifting to others.
As a community, we ask our students to be honest with themselves and those around them, and to refrain from forming undue judgments. As visitors to many countries across the globe, it’s crucial that we enter each with an open mind and carry ourselves with integrity.
Practicing satya is also critical to the well-being of our school community. Satya teaches you that the views and opinions of your counterparts are just as valid as your own. With our students hailing from over thirty countries, a wide array of perspectives are regularly brought to the table.
Being able to stay open to truth, challenge your beliefs, and grow as an individual are signs of satya in action and, when practiced in unison, the hallmark of a thoughtful and reflective school community.
Through TGS, I became more inquisitive about other people and cultures, and I no longer assume that people are the same. While traveling with TGS, I assumed that everyone is so different from me, but I’ve learned that everything shares things in common and differences as well.
-Class of 2020 Alum Maren Höver
The eighth and final core value is ubuntu, a Zulu philosophy that stresses connecting to a greater whole — in mutual support and community.
Our small student body hails from over 30 countries and represents many different cultures. While this diversity is integral to our school’s construct, there is a shared belief that all of humanity is connected. That as a community, we are interdependent. Ubuntu drives us to be compassionate and appreciative of difference — no matter where we find ourselves in the world.
Applying Ubuntu to Project-based Learning
Ubuntu is present in each of our teacher-led module’s driving questions. These modules challenge students to examine social, cultural, economic, and environmental challenges relevant to the countries we hold terms in. By engaging in these modules, students better understand and connect with the locales they visit during their TGS education.
When people first arrive at TGS, they don’t always know about other cultures. We have such a diverse community, though, where everyone can share their stories, experiences, and opinions without being ignored. TGS has made it clear how I can help my own community, it showed me there are a lot of different avenues.