Global citizenship is a collection of political, social, economic, and environmental efforts by individuals on a worldwide premise. At GBA, we define a Global Citizen as a person who understands the world, the people, and cultural differences; a global citizen promotes a positive change throughout the world in his or her service to others.
The international community of global citizens, who are open and receptive to the broad world around them, emphasizes the importance of intercultural understanding. They respect and appreciate diverse customs and lifestyles, and understand the complex history of the world, at home and abroad. In sum, the essence of a global citizen is to maintain a proactive, creative, and adaptable mentality, and to take initiative when it comes to transforming the world into a more impartial and livable place.
Global Citizenship is more than just a label. According to the Canadian Center of Science and Education study, adopting the identity of a global citizen is consistently associated with pro-social outcomes such as valuing diversity and intergroup empathy. These pro-social outcomes may be an important factor when handling cross-cultural interactions. Though the change may seem personal and minute, collaboratively everyone who identifies and contributes as a global citizen is working towards a humanity-driven world, which operates in global participation.
Minority study abroad
Minorities face unique challenges in studying abroad. Firstly, it is the internal barrier of not believing that they too can achieve this. Parental guidance and encouragement play a strong part in the youth’s mindset. The lack of communication, transparency, and parental involvement should no longer be a hindrance when it comes to their child’s desire to study or travel abroad. Conflicts between studying abroad and the cultural or familial beliefs of the minorities, such as parents’ questions about why their children would travel to a place which they emigrated from, prove to be another stumbling block. Not to mention the institutional and social obstacles, such as college overseas programs dominated by European countries or valid fears of discrimination.
Nonetheless, studying abroad is still essential and valuable for minorities. It was concluded during a University of Wisconsin survey that studying abroad enabled them to reject stereotypes about Africa, critically examine American cultural values, and “experience growth in terms of ethnic identity, racial identity, and intercultural sensitivity.” The growth in these students demonstrates that studying abroad contributes to the making of global citizens by broadening and readjusting their perspectives. In this sense, traveling abroad becomes indispensable for their growth as global citizens and individuals.
How is study-abroad related?
Studies have observed that studying abroad has helped shape people into more globally-minded individuals, who appreciate an array of cultures and “interrelatedness with different people.”
Although some may argue otherwise, studying or traveling abroad is not a requirement for global citizenship. However, the experience indeed helps form mindsets that are notably beneficial to global citizens.
The University of Wisconsin examined that studying abroad reduced ethnocentrism, nationalism, and increased tolerance in approaching issues. The reduction of these traits and the increase in tolerance and appreciation for different cultures are rightly the factors that will help people transform into global citizens.
Global Citizen Feature
Meet Tamirah Jackson, this quarter’s global citizen.
I am going into my sophomore year at the University of Delaware with a triple major in International Business, Marketing, and Spanish. My plans after graduation are to become a business owner and continue to travel the world!
What is your definition of a global citizen? Would you call yourself a global citizen?
A global citizen, to me, is one who understands their place in the world. They’ve taken the initiative to learn about the world around them and recognize how this global knowledge is imperative to personal growth. I consider myself a global citizen because I’ve traveled abroad and appreciated the cultural differences I’ve been exposed to.
Where did you study abroad and why?
I’ve traveled to Spain, France, Italy, Bermuda, Belgium, and the Netherlands. It was always my dream to travel to another country because I grew up watching the Cheetah Girls movies. Then I traveled to Barcelona and India which inspired me! Even after being inspired, I still needed some encouragement from my parents, because going abroad for the first time is nerve-wrecking!
How has studying abroad helped you personally develop?
Studying abroad has helped me develop into a more confident and culturally aware individual. If I can have the courage to board an 8-hour flight, navigate a foreign country, and emerge myself in their culture, I can do anything. My perspective on the world is no longer one-sided as I now view it from a different set of lenses. I remain curious about different cultures and advocate for their differences.
What do you consider the most invaluable thing you’ve gained from study abroad?
The most invaluable things that I’ve gained from studying abroad are the relationships that I have built. For a piece of my trip to Spain, I stayed with a host family. This experience was amazing and I was sad to leave them. They invited me back for Christmas that same year. Queralt, the daughter of the family, even came to the United States to stay with me. I truly have a second family in another country and this lifelong relationship is something that I am so grateful for!
What advice would you give to a student on the fence about study abroad?
I would say GO FOR IT! You won’t regret it. Find a place that interests you and do some research on the location. I found that watching travel vlogs helped me get a feel for the different countries before I went and this eased some nerves. Also, while you are there, say “yes” to everything! I was terrified of white water rafting, but while in Italy I tried and the experience was amazing.
Want to be featured as our next Global Citizen?
Myth 1: It’s just another form of Neo-colonialism
Certain definitions of global citizenship that seek to discreetly westernize or globalize by means of erasing cultural differences have been attributed to neo-colonialism. However, at Globally Abroad we believe in a more critical form of global citizenship. We believe that global citizenship is not only about accepting and embracing different cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities, but about addressing the inequalities, oppression, and the post-colonial stems of these issues that affect all the relevant communities.
Myth 2: It’s a meaningless identity that has no substance
Although anyone can claim to be a global citizen, not everyone can truly live up to the identity. Believing in certain ideologies is not enough; only when one becomes an active advocate will he or she be transformed into a global citizen, who will stand up to prejudice, work to empower the disenfranchised, or think critically about his or her own actions.
Myth 4: It’s about raising money for charities
Although helpful and a possible motivation that comes from being a global citizen, raising money is in no way a prerequisite. Certainly, individuals take initiatives as global citizens with specific actions that are not always in the direction of a charity group. The journey of global citizenship may lead to engaging activities within a charity organization, but the prime objective is to do the most for the greater good.
Myth 3: It’s virtue signaling / it’s about having a hero complex
A common myth about traveling abroad is that it is done out of a hero complex or is virtue signaling. Though we do see people going abroad for the sake of “the gram” or other social media feeds, we believe that global citizenship is not about “saving” someone but about seeing someone as a human, no matter how different they are from us, and about embracing those differences without attempting to change them while welcoming the change within oneself.
Myth 5: It’s “not for people like me” Syndrome
Global Citizenship might seem like an exclusive club that minorities are excluded from, especially when media portrayals of studying abroad tend to depict “young white women.” As a result, minorities might perceive studying abroad as out of reach or irrelevant, and thus filter out any opportunities related to it. However, the fact is that aside from the benefits the minorities and non-minorities can both receive, such as the broadening of their horizons, exclusive benefits which include growth in one’s own ethnic identity and the eradication of stereotypes will also become obtainable to minorities when they study abroad.
By offering global opportunities ranging from language courses, community service projects, to internships, we encourage and provide international travel programs for minority youth for a chance to encounter diverse communities. Globally Abroad aims to help our participants build their own understanding of world events and culture as they encourage their own communities to do the same. We full-heartedly stand by our mission, which is why we intend to inspire action, break barriers of discrimination, and operate in excellence.
You can be a global citizen too!
There are numerous activities you can do to become an involved global citizen. One of the best ways to engage with your world is to become informed while training yourself to see things from an unbiased perspective even if things are from biased sources. Locally, you can volunteer for communities that are disenfranchised; you can also get involved in local politics which can be as easy as writing a letter to your local representative or voting. Even if you don’t have much time, you can be a global citizen by interacting with different communities with humanity. All of which promotes positive change throughout the world.