This week I had the privilege of speaking to many young adult students at Queens University and Providence Day School; both in Charlotte, NC. My presentation was based on lessons from Uganda and was intended to inspire young minds and hearts to seek the path of global citizenship.
“Global citizenship” is becoming a buzz term and finding its way into academic curricula, especially in global studies programs. And, I’m sure that the concept has various definitions and criteria. I have my own definition of global citizenship.
I find it exciting that the world’s shrinking borders are enticing more and more people to engage actively in places far from home. We are beginning to realize that no matter where we live or what we choose to do for a career, we are part of a global society. Our world is intricately linked in all facets – education, business, industry, economic development, health, spirituality, and climate. Communication technology has made it possible to be “community” with others who come from very diverse backgrounds.
But being part of an integrated world presents challenges. We have a lot to learn.
In order to be effective in a global society, we have to not only learn about other cultures, but we have to shift our paradigm of tolerating differences to embracing diversity. And we have to recognize and appreciate the strength and synergy that come through diverse populations working together for common goals.
In our world which is intricately connected and interdependent, we are called to be Global Citizens.
What is a Global Citizen?
I’ll paint my picture of global citizenship for you. For me, it is not defined as one who knows a lot about the world, or one who has studied extensively and has a degree in international studies, political science or international business. Those credentials certainly add extreme value, and are a great foundation – but they do not, in and of themselves, constitute global citizenship. World travelers are not automatically global citizens either. Being a global citizen is all about attitude and commitment. It’s about honoring a globe that is much bigger and more complex than any of us can imagine. It’s about each of us doing our part (our tiny drop in the bucket) to obtain peace, sustainability and prosperity on a global scale. It’s about working to solve world problems together, with respect for all players on the team, no matter their nationality, their economic situation, their religion or political affiliation.
It’s an outward focus rather than “Its’ all about me” attitude. That’s how I describe global citizenship.
What does Global Citizenship look like for you?