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Saturday, 16 December 2017

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In Beijing, International Day—with a Cross-(Culture) Dressing Twist

By Ettie Zilber


Two staff members of Beijng BISS International School inaugurate the “World Citizen” category (photo: Ettie Zilber).

In international schools around the world the celebration of the “five Fs” is commonplace: festivals, flags, food, fashion, and famous people.

We typically invest extraordinary resources in these grand events, which often include the entire community plus dignitaries. We decorate the school in the honorable flags of all our representative nations. We look forward to culinary delights from every corner of the globe, often prepared at home by members of the community. And, of course, we dress up in national costumes and colors with great pride and in great awe of the beauty and detail of these traditional and modern fashions.

At Beijing BISS International School, we, too, subscribe to this annual tradition. With a student body composed of 40 nationalities and a staff composed of 14, it is truly a celebration of the diversity of our student and staff community. Our Olympics-style Parade of Nations is a veritable feast for the eyes, including participation from students, staff, parents, and even visiting grandparents. The flags and sign-boards of the numerous countries are carried with pride at the opening of our International Day festivities.

This year we were pleasantly surprised by the addition of a “new” participant in the country parade. Two staff members, identifying themselves as Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs) and Cross Culture Kids (CCKs), donned the garb and the globe in a metaphorical and fashion mishmash, symbolizing the countries and cultures from whence they hailed. Their signpost indicated that they were the representatives from the “World Citizens” contingent.

These world citizens represented the innumerable students and adults who populate our schools and communities. TCKs and CCKs are a crucial element in the culture of our international schools; how wonderful to have them represented and recognized at our international day! Hurray for TCKs and CCKs!! And thanks to our creative World Citizens for their initiative.

Dr. Zilber is Head of Beijing BISS International School in Beijing, China. Email her at

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