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Serving International Schools

By Dan Challis
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    Ralph and Dagmar have spent their professional lives educating and discipling the children of mission workers, or Third Culture Kids (TCKs). Ralph is a Physics and Science teacher, with a specialism in IT, and Dagmar has held senior leadership roles, in addition to teaching Biology. This year they took up roles at Hebron School (after the closure of Murree Christian School  in 2020 where they had served for many years). Here, they reflect on the impact of MCS on the lives of the mission community in that country.

    Dagmar explains that Murree Christian School (MCS) was founded 65 years ago to meet the educational, moral and spiritual needs of the children of mission workers. It had an excellent track record of academic success. The pupils followed an American/European curriculum and offered British exam qualifications like IGSCEs and A levels. As a boarding school MCS offered parents and children stability. As Dagmar says, “Their parents might move around frequently but the school was a stable force in the children’s lives. The school enabled parents to do their ministry effectively.” Generations of families attended the school, including Ralph and Dagmar’s own children.

    They believe that MCS became a model community as everyone found a way to work together, in spite of denominational differences, and differences amongst the various Christian workers serving in that country. In the summer months (June, July, August), the school became a hub for language learning instruction for Christian workers.

    Education is not a one-way street, and Ralph says he has learned a great deal from his students. He recalls one particular episode of a student whose Aspergers condition led to a volatile outburst when asked to do some homework. “The whole class gathered round the boy and calmed him down and reassured him it was possible for him to be able to do the homework. Talk about a transformation! Not just in this child learning to cope with the world but in the effect it had on everyone else. I had to learn – and the other kids in his class had to learn – how to cope with someone who was different. It was immensely enriching. If you don’t have those experiences you’re all the poorer for it. You’ve missed out.”

    In 2020, the Covid outbreak severely disrupted the final year of the school. Ralph and Dagmar were determined that the last cohort of students should been seen through their exams successfully, even if that meant learning by Zoom and other digital platforms.

    The legacy of the school is immense. Of the 500 students who have graduated from MCS, many are now in Christian ministry themselves. Dagmar also notes that, “Many of the church leaders in the country were discipled by Christian workers who sent their children to MCS.”

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