Connecting with our Roots
One of the things I love about language immersion is that it gives students multiple tools to express themselves and to understand others. A phrase in English may not be easily translated in French or Chinese, and vice-versa. The true understanding of a culture - their stories, beliefs, and identity, comes from having multiple avenues available to you; the ability to understand and express ideas in more than one way. To find meaning where perhaps, in one single language, there is none. An apt analogy is to say that our school is like a vibrant, colorful tree. We have many individual branches and stems that grow in different directions -- but we are all connected by a strong root system -- language and culture immersion -- that gives us the foundation for an understanding that is so much more rich and complex than monolingual learners. I think nothing makes me more proud than seeing our students connecting with our roots and finding meaning in something they may not have experienced elsewhere.
Last Friday, we had the pleasure of welcoming French singer-songwriter, Geneviève Charlot, to school. Geneviève is the mother of our own talented French music teacher, Jean-Baptiste Charlot, and you can certainly see where his artistic inclinations come from.
Geneviève pens songs about what she knows: motherhood, womanhood, love, loss, joy, pain... she writes and sings about the human experience... but through a cultural lens. Her songs, sung in French, have a particular rhythm that reminds those of us who were raised in France, of our home. But also, she writes her songs utilizing a play on words -- beautiful, lyrical poems that express such intense emotions.
Now imagine, a group of children from varying cultural backgrounds at the concert, listening to and connecting with the music. What a gift it is for children to hear something in a language that may not be what is spoken at home, and to really understand and connect with it. Although these children did not grow up in France, they are still able to connect with French roots and think of it as their own.
During the performance, Geneviève was surprised when a group of students began to sing along next to the stage. The entire room was moved. For an artist, to have a choir of young angelic voices singing with you... is beyond magical. Sharing music, sharing culture, and sharing an understanding of our roots -- our identity -- is such a gift. At INTL*, we're lucky to receive these gifts each and every day.
I look forward to bringing more cultural events to school, to be able to enjoy with our entire community. Until next time, please enjoy a song from Geneviève's latest album. She sang this to our elementary school students during an assembly last week -- and everyone really enjoyed it. I hope you do, too.
*In 2020, the International School of the Peninsula (ISTP) formally changed its name to Silicon Valley International School (INTL) to better reflect its bilingual programs, location, and international values.