Viki Rudez speaks six languages and has built a foundation in another six. She’s a world traveler who has lived and taught in Indonesia and Malaysia, Thailand and Jordan, and Morocco and Japan as well at Dwight campuses in Dubai and London.
Now, she teaches English to ninth graders at Dwight Global, a school ideally suited to her polyglot background. Ms. Rudez also teaches English as an Additional Language and the Middle Years Program of the International Baccalaureate and helped design the curriculum for Dwight Global’s ninth-grade English.
Louisa Childs, Head of School at Dwight Global says Ms. Rudez exemplifies Dwight’s pillar of global vision.
“Not only is she a world traveler, but she has worked on three campuses: London, Dubai, and Global Online,” says Ms. Childs. “Ms. Rudez’s global perspective comes through in her inspired teaching and in the curriculum she designed for Grade 9 English. She is also incredibly caring and deeply connected to each student’s goals and interests. We are lucky to have her at our school.”
Ms. Rudez was born in Dubrovnik, Croatia, but moved to London with her family when she was 4 years old. Later, she attended the University of Durham, England, where she trained as a teacher while also studying anthropology, linguistics and classics. She also has a master’s degree in Reconciliation from University of Winchester, England. In this Q&A, she discusses her travels and her international teaching as well as why she is so delighted to be teaching at Dwight Global.
Which languages do you speak?
To speak “Dwight,” learning languages has always been my “spark.” I love the challenge of deciphering new scripts and learning to communicate in different languages. For speaking and teaching, I have Croatian, French, German, and a blend of Spanish mixed with Italian and Indonesian. But I have tried hard to communicate in the places I have lived. Hardest alphabet? Japanese. Most fun? Indonesian. Most useful? Latin. Most challenging to pick up? Georgian.
Why are you a world traveler?
Moving and traveling have always been a norm for me. I feel restless if I stay in one place too long! Along with the chance to become immersed in a new country and language, seeing new places and meeting new people is a constant source of inspiration and challenge. I realized recently, thanks to a dear Dwight colleague (Mary Langford, Dwight London’s head of admissions), that I grew up as a “Third Culture Kid” and it makes sense that I have also raised my two children, Sam (now in his final college year) and Lydia (now in high school) in this way, too.
How have your travels and teachings in different nations and at three Dwight schools influenced your teaching?
My travels and experiences have definitely shaped my teaching. Firstly, there is the whole dimension of language use and diversity, especially in international schools where so many students are unique linguistic blends themselves. I am an advocate for each individual’s linguistic “rights,” which is as much about self-perception as it is developing academic English for their future studies. I feel it is important for young people to see themselves as part of the world’s incredible linguistic and cultural richness.
Secondly, within any language, there is a whole world of different works, viewpoints, and creative expressions to explore. Adjusting to each cultural context is a dynamic process, and I hope to learn with and from each class. I love how certain popular trends seem to travel like waves across cultures, especially with social media: For example, how in Georgia, so many students have learned anime Japanese and are avid manga fans. Also, with the discussion of literary themes, we need to tap into and become more sensitive to different experiences and viewpoints, so I prioritize building an inclusive, tolerant, and inquiry-driven class environment. And I also hope that we can openly discuss some of the deeper meanings and themes of the works we study.
In your view, is literature a form of travel?
I love the idea of literature being a form of travel—virtually and through imagination, and I can think of brilliant parallels between reading a work of fiction and traveling. There may be the unknown backstory or suspending judgment when you first meet a character in a book, or the “piecing together” of your own experiences or reactions that make the written words relatable. For me, at the heart of both is the idea of how the reader, or traveler, will react to something new or figure out an underlying mystery. For these reasons, I enjoy magical realism and historical fiction for this wonderful mix of fantastical, familiar, and mystery.
What is it like living in Tbilisi?
Georgia is my first experience living in the former Soviet Republic and in some ways, I recognize elements of the former Yugoslavia here. It has an incredibly unique language and alphabet which, like its history, is complex and deeply rooted. It is a dynamic time to be here, as Georgia is socially and politically forging its own identity, and as a teacher I have a sense of how generations see the future. Plus, it has the most delicious bread—the ultimate melted-cheese filled bread called khatchapuri!
Is it important for Dwight students to have an international or multicultural perspective?
I think each character you read about in literature is not only a door to another setting or context but also a chance to question who you are and how you form your views about the world. We often reshape our horizons after a moving or meaningful read and for young people, it is especially valuable, and crucial, as we are surrounded by constant shifts in the way our global society works.
I think it is positive that our students not only reassess their views as new knowledge and “virtual experiences,” but also that they expect shifts to happen. As writers bring new realities to their readers, so do these realities reflect what is going on in the world—or is it the other way around? Absolutely, I think it is super important for our Dwight students to practice flexibility in their thinking and to become critically aware of international perspectives—including their own!
Dwight Global seems like the ideal school for you, given your languages and your travels. Do you enjoy teaching Dwight’s diverse students?
Having worked in a few different schools and countries over the years, it is a big deal for me to say I feel really “at home” with Dwight Global. From Dwight London and Dubai to Dwight Global, I have been able to build trust in the values that drive Dwight’s educational vision and in its ever-expanding networks and schools.
For me, Dwight Global is the most amazing “educational landscape” where highly motivated people (families, students, and staff), progressive modes of learning, and the potential of intercultural understanding come together in a way that allows all of us to genuinely thrive.
I think Dwight is such a success because each element is valued, all students are supported as they build their own paths, and to me the global dimension is responsive and real to our times. For sure, this is the “real world, virtual school” I want to be a part of, and every day I appreciate being a member of the Dwight Global community.