TASIS: An International Community, Experiencing the Importance of Collaborative Relationships

By Jason Tait (May 13, 2020)

Relationships and social connections are one of the most important aspects of our lives. We thrive on connection, love, intimacy, and a strong emotional and physical interaction with other humans.

As the current pandemic illustrates, human relationships during times of challenge and adversity have the capacity to bring out the best in people and organizations. The scope for previously un-thought cooperation to produce outstanding achievement and results will exceed the extent and limit of the current crisis.

Central to this belief are the benefits and pitfalls of collaborative vs. competitive relationships. In order to flourish and develop our own well-being we should be seeking to cooperate and collaborate:

Cooperative interactions are supported by a core belief that people are basically good and will not seek to take advantage over us (win/win). Competitive interactions are supported by a core belief that people will, if given the chance, seek to take advantage over us in relationships (win/lose, but really lose/lose). 

A central pillar to the identity of TASIS is the Boarding Program of the school. Boarding positively contributes to the culture and ethos of the School, providing the TASIS community with the opportunity to develop cooperative and trusting relationships with children and families from all over the world. TASIS Head of Boarding Matt Kiely describes the collaborative relationship journey for our boarding students and how this is beneficial to the well-being of students, teachers, staff, and parents across the entire school:

"When boarders arrive at TASIS they very much are taking a step into the unknown. Traveling from a variety of destinations around the world, they arrive into the British village of Thorpe and have to adapt to a new environment, culture, language, and routine. Beyond this, within the melting pot of diversity that is the TASIS Community, one must quickly learn to appreciate and respect the points of view of others who may hold entirely contrasting values and have been brought up to see the world differently. 

 Building relationships in this context is vital in order for boarding students to thrive. Starting with the shared experiences of not knowing anybody, sharing houses together, eating meals, and learning about each other. The common teary eyes of homesickness are quickly replaced with smiles and laughter as budding friendships and acquaintances blossom into something more meaningful. A simple greeting over breakfast can develop into taking the train together into the city to explore London or being invited to stay at a family home over the break. 

 Relationships with staff members are equally important. It takes a village to raise a child, and our village is full to the brim of people willing to offer support from Houseparents to Housekeepers. Trust and respect are earned over time to the point where boarders feel comfortable in talking to staff members about successes and the challenges that they are facing. 

 Ultimately, boarders will not look back at their time at TASIS and remember the color of their bedroom walls, their maths lessons, or the food – they’ll remember the people with whom they connected the most. In some cases, those relationships will last a lifetime."

Mr. Kiely’s thoughts and views are an extension of the vision of our founder Mrs. Fleming. She understood the importance of providing students with the opportunity to experience the power of collaborative relationships through living in an international learning community which is built upon mutual respect, trust, and cooperation:

"I want to believe as I age that the dynamic of TASIS will go on forever – that it will continue to bring young people of the world together with a shared vision that the world is really one big family, that no matter what our colour, race or creed, we are all part of the human species, we are all human beings. All we need to bring us together is education, education to give us freedom from poverty, disease, and war. It sounds like a tall order but through education it can be achieved, and TASIS must take the lead."

Letter to alumni, 2001