Interview: Mutual appreciation of civilizations helps strengthen global youth connection, says British educator

(Xinhua) 14:35, May 18, 2023

LONDON, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The pathway to a globally-connected future lies in language education, cultural exchange and a shared commitment to mutual understanding and respect among civilizations, a British educator has said.

These principles can bring young people from around the world closer together, not only as friends but also as future leaders from diverse backgrounds, Joan Deslandes, head teacher of Kingsford Community School in east London, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"In the context of our ever-globalizing world, it's crucially important that we not only acknowledge but celebrate our cultural differences," she said, adding that "these shouldn't be perceived as remote aspects of a specific curriculum but as integral components of our daily lives."

Noting that nations can bring tangible benefits to one another by appreciating and understanding diverse cultures, she said that the key to addressing the world's pressing challenges lies in promoting mutual understanding and learning among different civilizations.

Kingsford Community School became the first school in the United Kingdom to make Mandarin a compulsory part of its curriculum in 2000. In 2007, it became home to London's first Confucius Classroom.

Deslandes told Xinhua that Kingsford regularly organized exchange programs with Chinese middle schools before the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are now eagerly anticipating the resumption of these programs.

"The students at my school are incessantly inquiring about when they can return to China. The stories told by older students about their enriching experiences, the friendships formed and the deep cultural immersion have instilled in them a desire to participate in these exchanges," she added.

She said Kingsford students are both willing and genuinely enthusiastic about promoting mutual understanding and learning among civilizations.

On China's recent proposal of the Global Civilization Initiative, Deslandes sees it as attractive and necessary for the world's young population.

She said misunderstanding, misinformation and a lack of trust among nations are barriers to global cooperation.

"I'm excited about the future of this initiative," Deslandes said, "and its potential to expand and reinforce the inter-connectedness of the world's civilizations."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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