Photos: ‘Iolani School
Dr. Timothy Cottrell
Head of School
“With the world in transition, preparing students to expand their perspectives and see themselves as global citizens deepens their ability to seek real, diverse and yet-to-come opportunities and to work confidently with others through critical thinking and ethical, empathetic action,” says Dr. Timothy Cottrell, Head of School. “Developing culturally agile students means continually creating learning environments that respect our state’s multicultural population and provide ways for students to interact with people of different cultures.”
Forward-thinking has long guided ‘Iolani School, one of Hawaii’s distinguished independent schools, to pursue a globally-focused education for its students that has become essential as technology increasingly creates worldwide work opportunities across cultural boundaries.
Cultural Agility at ‘Iolani starts with its time-honored One Team core values of mutual respect, gratitude, and humility. Growing global interdependencies today underscore the importance of these values in facing disruptive forces and working cooperatively for improvement. When the recent pandemic struck, ‘Iolani’s students, teachers, and administrators came together and quickly adapted, having had training, social/emotional preparation, and technology in place. The campus pivoted from on-campus classes to at-home distance learning to enable students to complete courses and, for many, to graduate on time.
Across the ‘Iolani campus, global education has transformed student experiences. International travel and study abroad have increased with more than 40 ‘Iolani student groups visiting New Zealand, Vietnam, and other countries in the 2019-20 school year. Its two-year-old Residential Program has welcomed boarding students in grades 9-12 from foreign countries (Mexico, Turkey, Asia, etc.), the U.S. Mainland, and the Neighbor Islands. With an international student body, ‘Iolani’s The Three Musketeers stage production recently brought day students from Hawai‘i and boarding students from California, Vietnam and Korea to work together as cast and crew on a classic French story.
‘Iolani alumni are a testament that global education has been an enduring core value in students’ learning. Many graduates are pursuing successful careers in diverse fields abroad. Dr. Jerome H. Kim is the current director general of the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul, South Korea. Born and raised in Honolulu, the 1977 ‘Iolani graduate has worked on developing vaccines for cholera, typhoid, MERS, and HIV.
“Cultural agility is more than the individual skills needed for success in a global economy,” says Cottrell. “It is a contemporary necessity to appreciate the commonality of values and beliefs shared by all cultures for all of us, as humanity, to grow.”
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