International School of Indiana: Bridging cultures and unlocking potential

Life for Shirley Cai has changed dramatically in the last few years. Hailing from China, Shirley is now looking at future of becoming a neurosurgeon in the United States.

After being nominated Senior Class Graduation Speaker at high school, receiving the Honor Roll and Endeavor Award, making a meaningful impact on her fellow students, and acting as a noble mentor to other international students – Shirley’s future is indeed bright.

Given the chance to excel in a culture that enabled her to unlock her radiant potential, Shirley attributes much of her success to her high school, the International School of Indiana (ISI), and the opportunities it afforded her.

Despite her fears of moving so far away from home, she soon felt the warm multicultural embrace of the ISI community.

In order to explore what I’m most interested in doing in the future, I stepped out of my comfort zone and came to America,” Shirley says. “I’m proud that I chose to study in America and glad that I was able to integrate into the culture easily by making friends and experiencing the culture.”

Although it was a big step to make, Shirley’s time at ISI unlocked her potential that otherwise may have lay dormant. Through the challenge, she discovered skills, interests and talents that have affected her trajectory through life.

“I’m proud of myself for getting through one of the biggest turning points in my life, which was to choose to study in America, and finding my own passion in Chemistry and Biology.”

“Through my experience, I realized that I am stronger than I thought and that I have an ability to lead and inspire people.”

Discovering her love for the sciences and her passion for working with people while at ISI is what drove Shirley to look towards the medical profession as a future career, and it is the world-class International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and hands-on approach to teaching at the School that equipped her with the skills and know-how to get into the leading Washington University in St. Louis.

“The IB program offered at ISI prepared me, an international student, for college as it made me develop my writing, critical thinking and time management skills which are essential qualities for college studies,” Shirley explains.

As Shirley embraced American culture with two hands, she never felt like an outsider or was expected to forget her Chinese culture – far from it.

Cultures from all over the world are not just accepted at ISI, but celebrated in a caring community that cultivates worldly-wise and globally focused graduates.

“My favorite things about my ISI journey are getting to know many excellent students from a range of countries,” says Shirley. “ISI has broadened my view of different cultures and will help me to work with people from different backgrounds.”

Calling themselves a “mosaic” of cultures, the International School of Indiana doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to cultural expression, they walk the walk. They have an emphasis on bilingual education through their English Acquisition Language Program and Language Immersion Program meaning ISI students graduate with more than one language under their belts thanks to the native speaking French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese teachers on faculty.

Counting 60 different nationalities amongst their student body, children benefit from this exposure to people from all walks of life, making them culturally sensitive and far better equipped to navigating our increasingly globalized world and workplace.

To make sure this multicultural environment is possible, ISI runs a homestay program within the school that offers high school students from around the world the opportunity to live with an American family, learn to speak perfect English, gain ISI’s internationally respected qualifications, and make friendships that extend far beyond the high school years.

Extensive international exchange trips reinforce this global message and see students of all ages travel far and wide to countries of their languages of study. Living with host families and taking part in service activities, students are immersed in the culture of their host country and come away with a deeper understanding, making them more confident world citizens.

With all this in mind, and the glowing success of graduates like Shirley, it’s no wonder ISI has been named one of the best high schools in the country by The Washington Post, and top private high school in Indianapolis for six years running.

The methods and philosophy at ISI work, and the results reflect this. Currently maintaining a 100 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent college acceptance rate, the School has the goods to back up the pride it rightfully takes in what it does.

ISI students go on a journey of self-discovery that unlocks potential, explores desires, opens doors and presents them with a bright future starting with the first steps into top-flight college life.

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