NIS Stories

Hear From Our Families: Why They Chose and Love Nagoya International School

Choosing the right school for your child is a pivotal decision, one that shapes not only their academic journey but also their personal growth and worldview. At Nagoya International School (NIS), we understand the significance of this choice and believe that the experiences of current families can be a guiding light for prospective ones. Hearing directly from parents who have walked the path you're considering offers invaluable insights into the everyday realities of life at NIS. Here are four unique parent perspectives on what it means to choose NIS.


Meet Kimberly: Embracing life and community

At NIS, the sense of community extends beyond the classroom, welcoming families like Kimberly’s to an enriching and supportive environment. As a deeply involved parent in the NIS community, Kimberly shared her experiences as a trailing spouse, her family of four’s journey to Nagoya, and the positive impact NIS has had on their lives. 

Prompted by her husband’s work, the family of four moved to Nagoya from Kentucky. Their two sons both now attend NIS. In fact, it was their experiences on campus before their big move that solidified their decision to move to Nagoya, leaving behind family, familiarity, and the comforts of home.

"From the moment we arrived at NIS, the sense of inclusion was remarkable," Kimberly recounts. "We were immediately struck by the opportunities for parent involvement and the openness of the campus. It was a deciding factor for us."

Kimberly's own work experience led her to become an active participant in the NIS community. 

"I've always been passionate about supporting school systems and ensuring that all kids have access to quality education," she explains. Her involvement in various parent groups and the PTA at NIS has not only empowered her but has also allowed her to contribute positively to the school's ethos.

Meet Kimberly: Embracing life and community

Reflecting on her children's education at NIS, Kimberly shares, "The school's approach to learning, especially through the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, has been incredible for my children. It emphasizes collaboration, inquiry-based learning, and a holistic approach that extends beyond traditional academics."

However, the adjustment wasn't without its challenges. Kimberly admits, "The educational system here, while exceptional, was quite different from what we were used to back home." She describes how the school provided extensive support, ensuring a smooth transition for her children and guiding parents through the adjustment period.

Beyond academics, Kimberly speaks of the cultural differences in parenting and safety. "In Japan, the community mindset towards child safety is great," she notes. "Children have a level of independence here that fosters responsibility and confidence. It's a safety-oriented culture that, as a parent, is incredibly reassuring."

For parents and trailing spouses, the strong expat presence forms a supportive network that eases the transition for families like hers. "The network here creates a tight-knit community," she adds. "It's comforting to have people who understand the experience."

Kimberly shares glimpses of their family adventures exploring Nagoya and its surroundings. "City living has been amazing," she beams. "The proximity to diverse attractions, nature walks, and vibrant city life has enriched our family time."

When asked about advice for expat parents, Kimberly emphasizes the importance of reaching out for support and not succumbing to the pressure of being an expert expat right out of the gate. "It's about finding your balance," she suggests. "Understand that while you're embracing a new culture, you're also living your day-to-day life. Prioritize experiences, but don't overwhelm yourself."


Meet Sean: From bustling Shanghai to quiet Nagoya

Having moved to Nagoya from South Korea to pursue a career opportunity, Sean and his family have lived in Japan for nine years. With a son in grade six and a daughter who recently started kindergarten, Sean is now intricately involved with NIS; he serves as a board member, ensuring that NIS maintains its high standards of education for years to come. 


Having moved to Nagoya from Shanghai, the slower pace of the region was a bit of a shock for him. He and his wife decided on international schooling for their children, focusing on broadening their cultural horizons and not confining them to a single national identity. They chose NIS because it offered a unique environment, different from typical schools in Japan or Korea, where he is originally from, with a focus on global education and a warmer atmosphere on campus, as well as its long history of serving expat families in the region. Their experience living in Nagoya as expats has proven to be a positive experience for the entire family. 

“We are happy to be in Nagoya because it’s a small, family-oriented city,” he says. “But it’s clean, and the skies here are so beautiful. My children can count the stars and look at the sky at night, which they could never have done in China. They even play with bugs,” he says with a quick laugh. He adds that if he and his wife ever have the itch to experience a bigger city, Tokyo is not too far away for a trip.

As a board member of NIS, Sean values the school's long history, diverse community, and the IB curriculum's emphasis on individual thought and teamwork. He appreciates the school's approach to education, fostering powerful learning experiences through projects, events, and co-curricular activities. Sean also mentions the school's less test-oriented approach, seeing it as beneficial for developing students' individual values and thoughts.

“We love the IB curriculum because it teaches our children their individual thoughts and ideas are worthy,” he shares. “And the teachers at NIS are so great teaching the IB.”

Sean is grateful for the experiences NIS provides, believing it plays a significant role in shaping his children into well-rounded, internationally-minded learners. He is dedicated to contributing to the school's ongoing improvement and values the efforts of the entire NIS community in creating a supportive educational environment.


Meet Ashley: A cultural champion

Ashley is familiar with the experience of expat families living in Nagoya. Though originally from Kentucky, she and her husband lived in Japan back in 2014 at a time when they didn’t yet have children. They embraced the adventure of an international assignment and fell in love with the rich cultural experiences they enjoyed together, knowing that one day they would find a way to share it with their own children.

Meet Ashley: A cultural champion

"We both have the travel bug; we both have a deep appreciation for different cultures, different people,” she says. “On our last assignment, we kept saying it would be so cool to come back to Japan once we have kids.” 

Fast forward to the present, they now have two young boys who get to be part of the adventure alongside them. This return trip to Japan was motivated in part by their desire to expose their children to diverse cultures and teach them respect and compassion in a global environment. In her own words, this was not an easy feat to accomplish in Kentucky. 

“There’s not a whole lot of diversity in Kentucky. We were constantly having this conversation about how we were going to teach our boys to understand different cultures and to respect different people for who they are, for the person inside, and not what they look like,” she says. “We just want our boys to grow up being compassionate and respectful.” 

When the opportunity for an international assignment to Japan came to them, they jumped at the chance. Surprisingly, Ashley initially believed they would send their two boys to a Japanese school for them to have an authentic Japanese experience. But following a tour of a Japanese school, her boys told them that it wasn’t the right fit for them. She trusted their intuition and soon found herself walking the halls of NIS. 

At NIS, her sons are not just embracing the Japanese experience - they are living in a microcosm of the world. Ashley says one of her sons shares his learnings about other cultures regularly, excitedly sharing new knowledge of language and customs with her. Her younger son picks up new words and cultural nuances, a symbol of NIS’s rich cultural diversity and warm embrace of what makes those around him different from him.

“We wanted them to experience as much as possible; if they were in a Japanese school, they would have only had a Japanese experience. Here at NIS, we’re in the whole world,” she says. “It’s like culture on steroids!”

Outside of the academic experience at NIS, which Ashley praises as following world-class methodology, it’s the sense of community that keeps bringing her back onto campus. A trailing spouse, Ashley has filled her time with events and activities on campus and has been embraced by the community filled with expats just like herself. The school's focus on parent involvement and its efforts to create a collaborative atmosphere resonates deeply with her.

“Being an expat, community is vital to our survival. With NIS, it’s automatic, it’s instant.”

Ashley’s enthusiasm for embracing the adventure of living in Japan is clear. She advocates other expats to make the most of their international assignment, highlighting how rich an experience they can have in such a short period of time. 

Her family’s journey underscores the value of being open-minded to new experiences while still carrying comforts from home with them. They might not sleep on traditional Japanese futons, but in almost every other way, Ashley and her family have embraced the Japanese experience with an open heart and mind. 


Meet Esther: Discovering a second home

As one of many mixed-heritage families whose children attend NIS, Esther is uniquely aware of how special the NIS community truly is. Born and raised in Spain, she met her Japanese husband while they were studying Mandarin in Beijing. Already embracing the adventure of an international experience, Esther followed her then-boyfriend to Japan, who had a job waiting for him. 

As a dependent living in Japan, she initially had a challenge finding job opportunities that would sponsor a working Visa for her to stay in the country. Eventually, Esther found a career working at a relocation company. These agencies support incoming expats as they transition into the country. Fortunately, she had many opportunities to tour NIS as part of her responsibilities. It wasn't just her clients who were blown away by NIS!

Meet Esther: Discovering a second home

“Not only were the parents impressed with the school, but even the children attending the school seemed mysteriously happy, too. It was bewildering to see because I do not recall school being such a fun place from my personal experience. Whatever witchcraft they use, it certainly works!” says Esther. 

“I knew if I ever had children, they would go to NIS no matter what it took. It’s just the best. Nothing compares to it.”

Now her son is soon to graduate from NIS. 

When her son was still in primary school, Esther recalled how open NIS’s campus was and how NIS encouraged students to tackle complex problems while being free to live authentically. This was an important consideration for Esther and her family.

“Students are given so much freedom and are encouraged to take action on projects that impact the world. Freedom and personal identity are important to us, especially living in a country where the group is so homogeneous.”

Japan is not always an easy place to live as someone who is of mixed heritage like her son, but NIS gave her family the comfort of being proud of their unique identity rather than being embarrassed or uncomfortable with it, or worse, needing to hide from it.

“From what I hear from close friends, the Japanese school system is not an easy place for children of mixed heritage who are proud of their origins and happy to be different from the rest. NIS, on the other hand, welcomes diversity with open arms,” she says. “I love that the individuality and identity of each student are not only given a lot of consideration but are cherished and celebrated.”

One added benefit of being a part of the NIS community for Esther and her family is their warm embrace of international holiday traditions. As a lover of Christmas, moving to Japan was a bit of a shock to Esther. In Japan, Christmas is a regular working day! However, NIS rekindled her family's Christmas spirit with its array of international activities, including a Christmas concert, Secret Santa, and classroom games. These festivities, coupled with the school community’s desire to join and celebrate multiple cultural celebrations offered a unique blend of celebrations, fostering a sense of belonging and joy among the families.

“I remember the families and the children all having such a good time during the Christmas holidays.”

NIS's influence stretches beyond academic achievements. Esther emphasizes how the school has positively impacted not only her son’s well-being but also their entire family. Living in Japan presented its unique challenges, but NIS's embrace of diversity and commitment to celebrating individuality provided a comforting counterbalance.

Embrace the Adventure at NIS.

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