Each country has its own customs, ideals, and histories which, together, forms their culture- that special thing that differentiates them from other countries. Culture makes countries unique from one another, so can we find examples of this through students?

GMHS Spanish teacher Señora Sally Larisch believes that culture can be seen in our differennt school systems- something we have been used to all our lives. In addition to GM, she has taught in Japan and has participated in the Chile exchange program.

“I like experiencing different ways of doing things because you can see the culture and things that are valuable,” Sra. Larisch said.

Students sit in a computer lab using desktop computers.

An average high school structure in Japan on the left and an average high school structure for Latin America on the right. (Photos via Wikipedia)

Here, most schools are public and have a good education; in Chile and in most of Latin America, you have to attend a private school to get a good education.

“Public schools in Chile are not good and even then some kids can’t go to school because they have to buy uniforms and they can’t afford them,” Sra. Larish said.

We also have access to excellent technology: at Mason, every student gets a laptop. The staff gets the necessary technology for their classes as well. Conversely, in Chile, students have a computer center and they can only use the computers for certain classes and only while they’re at school.

Students sit in a computer lab using desktop computers.

Students at a computer center from a Mexican public school. These are pretty similar throughout Latin America. (Photo via Wikimedia)

Poverty and lack of opportunities are other problems in these countries; a disturbing amount of kids must work instead of go to school.

“They are big obstacles that we don’t even consider here. We are so fortunate to have a good public education,” says Sra. Larisch.

One thing that Asian and Latin American schools have in common, according to Sra. Larsich, is that each class stays in their own classroom, and teachers of different subjects move from class to class. Here, as we know, the teacher has their own classroom and the students move to them.

“Chileans enjoy coming here because they like the fact that the students move from class to class,” Sra. Larisch said about the Chilean exchange students who visit GMHS in the fall. “They like the autonomy that students have here.”

Having these contrasts can influence the way students grow throughout their school experience.

“Here, independence and individuality are really obvious,” Sra. Larisch said. “In Chile there is a strong collaborative component, a lot of feeling of consolidation and solidary, and in Japan it’s very group orientated and the idea of not standing out is really important.”

The different school systems may seem odd for us when we don’t know much about them, but these are the roots of culture. Schools are where we learn; this goes beyond knowledge and into how to behave as part of a society, which absolutely shows culture and values.

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