White Mountain School is an American boarding school that values private school diversity and integrates students of many different cultures together. Learn more about diversity at WMS today from student Rohan Barthelmy in this podcast.
John Maher: Hi, I'm John Maher. I'm here today with Rohan Barthelmy, a student at the White Mountain School, a private college prep day-in boarding school in New Hampshire. Today, we're talking about private school diversity at the White Mountain School. Welcome, Rohan.
Rohan Barthelmy: Thank you for having me.
Diversity at White Mountain School
John Maher: Sure. When most people think about an American boarding school, I imagine they're probably not thinking too much about diversity. How diverse is the White Mountain School?
Rohan Barthelmy: The White Mountain School is an incredibly diverse school. We pride ourselves on the number of students from different heritages and countries that we have walking through our halls. I think one of my favorite things about WMS is Diversity Club, where we sit and talk about hard-hitting issues that are affecting the world. It's nice to take a step outside of the U.S. or outside of the White Mountain School community and talk about what's affecting everywhere else.
Talking About Diversity
John: Do you actually look at the news and things that are happening in other countries and discuss the good things or the problems that other countries are facing and how that relates to our experience here in the U.S. and things like that?
Rohan: Right. You'll find a lot of the times, students are the ones who come forward with an issue or a topic that they need to talk about that they think their community needs to hear and the community needs to discuss. A lot of the times, issues of race, gender, and sexuality come up in our discussions. These are real issues that are affecting communities outside of us. It's nice to see that young people are taking the initiative to talk about and look for diversity.
Showcasing Diversity at White Mountain School
John: Right. What are some of the things in particular that the White Mountain School does in order to showcase the diversity of the student body here and celebrate their unique cultures?
Rohan: We have International Night where International students are given the opportunity to come in to show off their culture, show off where they're from, what's special about their country and their heritage.
John: Do you have food from other countries and things like that?
Rohan: Students cook food from their countries. [We] play music and see dances and things of that nature. It's nice to, again, see different cultures. We have community dinners. A lot of times we have a cultural event at our community dinners. We would bring in people with different skill sets from around the world, to come and show off for us and expose us to culture.
Orientation for International Students
John: Are you doing a special orientation at the beginning of the school year just for the international students?
Rohan: Yes, we do have international student orientation three days before the rest of the school gets here. We come and we ask all our international students, our new international students, to come in and give them basically a run-down of WMS and a run-down of living in the U.S. A lot of the times, you find the students have never lived outside of their countries before. It can be a culture shock for them. We talk about that culture shock and being home sick and also how to survive in the US and how to survive at WMS. We give them the language that they will use at our school, because a lot of the times we have just stuff that we see and we don't think about, that to them is completely foreign. There is a lot of that, there is some etiquette on the U.S. versus where they're from. A lot of the times it's stark, stark differences between what's acceptable to us and what's acceptable to them. We have that discussion of, where do we meet? Where do we overlap? No one is being insulted or offended.
John: Yes, you don't want to force anybody into what another culture finds normal or whatever. Like you said, there has to be sort of a meeting place in the middle between what's expected of them and what their culture tells them that they should do. When you do the international orientation, are the older international students there as well? Or is it just for the new students?
Rohan: What you find happens is that our new students are the ones going through the international student orientation program, but attached to them is an international student mentor who they have for the entire year. I'm an international student mentor and an international student myself. Since I've gone through WMS for a year, I am tasked with looking out basically for somebody else. I had one, and it's nice to have that when you get here as an international student, that first friend who you know is looking out for you. When you're like, "I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing right now." My mentor was the person I could call and now I am that person to my mentee.
What Students Can Gain from Private School Diversity
John: That's great. What do you think that you gain as a student from meeting so many people from other countries?
Rohan: Like a real world experience. Now, with the world shrinking as it is, you find you're rubbing shoulders with people all over the world in the workplace. WMS is exposing you to that and to the fact that you're going to meet people who don't share the same views as you do. How do you react to that? How do you deal with that? How do you look at issues critically? How do you think outside of yourself? I think that's what WMS is giving you by rubbing shoulders with people from all over the world. You being so close to them, it teaches you respect for people of different cultures and people with different views.
John: It really sets you up for going to a college that might be pretty diverse as well. Like you said, these days there are so many companies out there that have multi-cultures working for them or companies that are even located in different countries. Maybe you may end up working in another country even when you get out into the workforce. It really sets you up for that. It gives you a lot of experience with how to deal with other cultures and make that a part of who you are and the way that you behave in your experience as a person.
Rohan: Yes, it does.
John: All right. That's really great information, Rohan. Thanks again for talking with me today.
Rohan: Thank you.
John: For more information, you can visit the school's website at whitemountain.org or call (603) 444-2928.