More than an education:
(Almost) the whole world united in one IB boarding school
TEXT: MARILENA STRACKE | PHOTOS: BBIS
The Berlin Brandenburg International Boarding School focuses its core mission on bringing students from all over the world together. The innovative non-profit school offers young people an opportunity to grow and learn in a culturally diverse and respectful environment. Here, the students are not only encouraged to discover their own individual identity, but their journey is also shaped by the wealth and beauty of the different cultures and traditions our world has to offer.
If you are looking for an uplifting outlook into the future, BBIS may be just right for you. The boarding school of the Berlin Brandenburg International School (BBIS, for short) does not just promote a culturally diverse philosophy, but truly lives it every single day.
Currently, over 60 students live at the boarding school, and they come from over 25 different countries. Iceland, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, Australia, China, Russia, Ukraine, Peru, Japan and Canada, to name but a few, as well as various European countries too. The list of different nationalities that live and study together under the roof of the boarding school is an impressive one.
The Head of BBIS Boarding, Mr. Whitney Sterling, is originally from the US, but made Germany his chosen home a long time ago. Mr. Sterling is very passionate about his work and highly values the opportunity to bring teenagers from all over the world together and teach them to appreciate each other’s different cultures. “This is not your typical German boarding school, it is something very different and truly special,” he points out. “It is more like an international boarding school in the UK, the US or Canada – except you are in the heart of Europe, which is very exciting.”
The boarding school, open to students from 9th to 12th grade, is the first English language boarding school in Germany. It is located just outside Berlin, conveniently close to the airports yet far enough from the distracting hustle and bustle of the city. Due to the generous size of the campus, many outdoor activities can be enjoyed right on site. Various after-school clubs and weekend excursions ensure that there is always an exciting activity to join in on.
The boarding facility has been recently refurbished and is now close to hotel standard. Each room has its own modern bathroom and students can either share a room or apply to have a room to themselves.
As Mr. Sterling explains, the boarding school places great importance on three main areas: firstly, embracing a healthy lifestyle; secondly, achieving one’s academic potential; and thirdly, fostering intercultural understanding.
Helping the students to adopt a healthy lifestyle includes good nutrition, overall well-being and exercise. The kitchens on each of the five levels are open to use for students wanting to explore their own cooking skills and the boarding school has its own modern fitness room as well.
Of course, another key aspect for the boarding school staff is to help the students develop their full academic potential. “The International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes are truly challenging, especially the IB Diploma programme in years 11 and 12,” Sterling says. “So we support our students to become well prepared and take advantage of all the help they need in order to achieve their goals. For students who wish to focus on a more career-related ‘hands-on’ education, instead of a fully academic one, the International Baccalaureate Career-Related Program (IBCP) is highly recommended. It incorporates three two-week internships at different companies and allows students who are more practically orientated to explore their individual potential as well.”
Six experienced live-in mentors with international backgrounds ensure that every student is personally looked after 24/7. Whenever there is a problem, a question or anything else to share, the students have someone to turn to.
“Four to six times a year, we hold a ‘Culture Night’, and celebrate the culture of a specific country of one of our students,” Sterling adds. “The last event was dedicated to Russian culture and, next week, Latin America takes centre stage. Preparations are already in full swing. During those nights we enjoy authentic food, listen to music from that particular culture and learn about local traditions. With around 80 to 90 people attending, these are big events and we genuinely look forward to each and every one of them. They are a lot of fun!”
A home away from home, where every culture is welcomed with open arms, where students are prepared for international careers and where intercultural friendships are formed to last for a lifetime: all of that and more is promised at the Berlin Brandenburg International Boarding School.