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What I learned leading an American School in Shanghai

By Marcel Gauthier, Head of School
Marcel Gauthier

At the recent coffee hosted by our PA International Parents group, one parent asked me what I had learned leading an American School in Shanghai prior to coming to Country Day. I started by suggesting I learned many things, for example, how spending time in another culture gave me a new perspective on my own, as norms I had never questioned now had a clear standard of comparison.

However, the most impactful education I experienced was about myself. I realized at key moments that, without even knowing, I might impose my own cultural lens and get the moment wrong. I had always trusted my intuition; in China, I had to learn that my first intuition might, in fact, be a liability rather than an asset. It took me time to learn the patience and openness of mind to expand my own sense of how to build relationships, solve a conflict, or collaborate effectively. The experience was both humbling and enlightening.

Many of our students through our International Studies program will have the opportunity this year to travel to another country, and as a school, we will play host to students, educators, and dignitaries from partner schools around the world. The opportunity for all of us is the learning that comes from these connections: about ourselves, about our community, and about the world.

At Country Day, shaping opportunities that connect us with our global community both at home and afar -- and nurturing the relationships built through those connections -- is an important extension of our Mission. Thank you to Interim Director Jessica Newman and her International Studies team for beginning the process of shepherding us through another amazing year of travel, hosting, and learning!

~ Mr. G

In 2023, Marcel Gauthier started a blog, "Reflections with Mr. G." Through this platform, Mr. G reflects on pivotal moments that resonate with our school's mission. His insights and perspectives provide a unique window into the heart and soul of Country Day, offering a deeper understanding of the values that unite us as a community.