Expatriates explore how patriotism manifests in international environment


Annika Skorski

In a sea of third-culture identities at the school, students explore how moving abroad reformed their sense of patriotism and international identity. Each location point displays the variety of home countries represented by students.

Annika Skorski, Media Team

The High School boasts a representation of 70 different home countries and 64 languages spoken across the student body. As an international school, the majority of students at the school are third-culture kids – children raised outside of the home country or culture of their parents, according to the BBC

Sara Khan (’24) said the fusion of different cultures and perspectives within the school impacts the learning environment and education the school provides. 

“Even though there might be disputed debates over a certain issue or a certain topic, each person is bringing something different to the table,” Khan said.

Gus Bhatia (’25), who is from Princeton, New Jersey, said students’ patriotism this month is heightened due to the FIFA World Cup. Bhatia said he shows support for the American football team by displaying his sister’s drawing of the American flag on his phone case. 

“In sporting competitions, you feel more proud to be American because everybody here is English and sporting competition creates that rivalry,” Bhatia said.

Khan said although integrating children from countries with differing belief systems could lead to discord, classroom discussions are constructive and harmonious. 

“I’ve noticed the things we talk about are so heavily diverse in terms of culture and geographic location and everyone is very respectful,” Khan said.

Noor Naseer (’25) said the school’s culturally diverse student body contributes to its heterogeneous learning environment. 

“Our identities are what make us unique, so it is important that individuals stay in touch with their home culture,” Nasser said.

Khan said her opinions are equally as valuable as her non-American classmates despite being of American nationality at a school providing an American education.

“I feel validated being an American because we are an American school in London,” Khan said. “But, I might be the only person from Chicago in a room so I have that unique perspective to share.”

Naseer said her national pride intensifies outside of Pakistan, her home country, because she is representing her country in and outside of school discussions. 

I feel validated being an American because we are an American school in London. But, I might be the only person from Chicago in a room so I have that unique perspective to share.”

— Sara Khan (’24)

“As far as patriotism, I do support the country more and try and defend it while living abroad,” she said.

Khan said the international landscape has improved her education because diversity encourages discussion of news from a breadth of countries. She said the school community is exposed to much more world news compared to her previous school in Illinois. 

Khan said the U.S. tends to be “very centralized” in the media, causing schools to become sheltered from world news as their primary information sources focus on domestic affairs.

According to International Studies Quarterly, individuals who move abroad often experience “enlightened nationalism,” which is a phenomenon describing a heightened appreciation for uniqueness, including the idiosyncrasies of their country of origin.

Consequently, Naseer said her family’s love for cricket, a popular sport in Pakistan, was reborn when moving to London. 

“A lot of my friends who live there don’t watch, like, cricket because they take it for granted or it’s not really anything special,” Naseer said. “For my family who lives abroad, cricket is something that connects us back to the country.”

Jack Duffy (’25), who is originally from Needham, Massachusetts, said he enjoys upholding American traditions such as “Super Bowl Sunday” and Thanksgiving even more than when he lived in the U.S.

Alex Okosi (’25) moved from Lagos, Nigeria and said technology plays a vital role in keeping him connected to his family abroad.

“I check the news of Nigeria sometimes and I call my cousins and my family in Nigeria,” Okosi said.

Moreover, Duffy said he notices a stigma around American patriotism being obnoxious and aggressive. Duffy said he encourages students to practice patriotism in moderation as it has the potential to unite a nation without becoming violent. 

“At the right level – at a healthy non-violent one – I think that patriotism can fully bring together a country,” Duffy said. 

In contrast, Okosi said the Proud Boys – an exclusively male far-right organization that were involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection preceding President Joe Biden’s inauguration – are a consequence of misplaced patriotism and the toxic masculinity it promotes. 

“Patriotism can be a very exclusive and dangerous thing,” Okosi said.

Bhatia (’25) said the Jan. 6 insurrection did not influence his patriotism because he said the transient actions of individuals cannot shake his confidence in America’s founding principles. 

I’ve always kind of viewed my feeling of patriotism off of the ideals of the country.”

— Gus Bhatia

“I’ve always kind of viewed my feeling of patriotism off of the ideals of the country,” Bhatia said.

Consequently, Bhatia said the insurrection was fueled by separatism and violence, not by the love of their country, because protesters were actively threatening American principles. He said true patriotism is about striving to understand and improve flaws in one’s country, but citizens sometimes prevent this progress. 

“There’s a large contingent of people that are really keeping improvement from happening, I don’t look at that as an American,” Bhatia said.

Ultimately, Bhatia said the open-minded mentality many third-culture students develop works similarly to patriotic awareness because their mindset allows them to create informed solutions that better their communities.

“A third culture is another way of thinking that produces kind of a larger sense of empathy in a person,” Bhatia said. “You truly do understand how people from different parts of the world think.”