Remember the first day of school? Until I was a sophomore in high school, I always got real nervous on the first day of school. The new people, the uncertainty about what it will be like, the fear of not making friends.
Today is Marco's first day at his new school in Germany and I've been more nervous than him. Actually, he has been a bit uneasy, but he is hiding it well. Over a year ago we applied to a school called John F. Kennedy which would give Marco (as a US citizen) free tuition. Of course this would be most convenient in our situation. We have been hoping and praying that he would get into JFK.
Alas, it did not happen, so now Marco will be attending a private international school called Berlin Brandenberg International School (BBIS).
Yesterday was the new student (and parent) orientation day, so we took off as a family to begin this new academic journey.
BBIS is a school in a beautiful setting. It has the largest campus in all of Europe---much of it is forest. It has a brand new, state of the art gymnasium, and has only been open since 1990. It's located in a gorgeous suburb about 15 minutes from our house. There are 900 students from K-12 coming from 50 countries.
Both Jamie and I attended international schools as kids. For those of you that are not familiar with international schools, they are pretty interesting places. They are usually filled with the kids of diplomats, business people, missionaries, and others who move around from country to country. The quality of education is almost always very high and the service is usually excellent.
In Hong Kong, Marco attended an international school, but the student body was about 95% local Hong Kong Chinese. Here at BBIS, the student body is truly global and diverse. The list of names in Marco's class is very exotic.
We went to the orientation yesterday (oh, I was nervous) and we were really impressed. They did a great job not only telling us about the school but actually talking about adjustment issues for international kids, as well as different learning styles. This was all very re-affirming for us coming from the more inflexible Asian context.
And then, the best part was when we went to meet Marco's new teacher. She's from Toronto and spent 4 years teaching IN HONG KONG!!! We were thrilled about this! And she was thrilled to have a student from HK. It's such a unique experience and it has such an impact---the Asian educational system--that we assumed that his teacher wouldn't get it. To find out that his teacher not only gets it, but actually lived in Hong Kong was truly a huge blessing. I think all 3 of us were so relieved. Jamie said she got chills, I got teary.
Then Marco made his first friend, a very cute boy from London who just arrived in Berlin this week. We let them play on the playground for a while and they really hit it off.
We all came home very relieved and happy. Even though this adds a significant amount to our budget, we did all we could do and we'll just trust that this is the right place for now.
Spying on Marco and his new friend. Marco is in the red shirt and his new friend from London is holding the basketball.
Ready for his first day of 2nd grade. They grow up so fast! I'm going to cry now.
I love the blue track. Blue is the school color.