What does it mean to be a Global Citizen? A Reply.

In a previous blog, Tiffany challenged us to think about what it means to be a global citizen and how our identity might be impacted through experiences abroad.

Study abroad is an opportunity for DU’s students not simply to visit other countries but to experience, dig beneath the surface, and experience the subtleties and nuances of another culture first hand.  To be a global citizen is to be able to negotiate different cultures, to understand the subtleties of what contributes to different cultures and to understand your interactions between your identity in your home country and the country you are studying abroad in. Finally, a global citizen is someone who comes to appreciate culture shock, a natural process of cultural adjustment when you leave a culture you are used to and enter another.

The most important step to becoming a global citizen is to take your experiences from abroad and to apply them back here in your community. To do this means finding ways to share your experience back in the United States at school, in your classes, with your family and in your communities. If your experience abroad enables you to apply your appreciation and more nuanced understanding of another culture in the classroom, to help debate or to provide a nuance or analysis that only a firsthand experience of another culture could bring, then that will not only help you, but also others to become global citizens. The more immersive your experience, the greater the insight that you will be able to add.

With this, study abroad cannot only to give you a new understanding about yourself and your identity, but it should encourage you to be more questioning about your home culture upon your return. Parts of everyday life that you never questioned previously, such as the pace of life, the culture of individualism in the United States, or the role of public transport (not transportation!) may be just a few areas of life which come to challenge you. After this process of self-evaluation, it may well give you the encouragement to break out of your community and explore new cultures and traditions within the United States, whether it be through new activities, new friends or new places within America.

What will you add?

Callum Forster, Peer Advisor

Advertisements

What does it mean to be a Global Citizen?

 

 

So you have a passport… now what?

Maybe you’ve seen Europe. Your family took a vacation to Australia when you were little. You have participated one of DU’s ISL trips. So you have visited abroad. You may be aware of the current problems affecting populations around the world. Does that make you a Global Citizen?

If not, what does it mean to actually become a Global Citizen?

Well, we think it is not as simple as just seeing another culture. We also don’t think it is as transformative as shedding your American identity in place of 100% immersion in that culture either.

Global Citizen is a buzzword that many universities have been using with their students. It begins with possessing a passport, visiting other countries, and learning about other cultures. But it can’t end there. The most important part of this Global Citizenship is the way you relate your own identity to your experiences abroad.  It is not enough to be aware of problems happening around the world. It is necessary for us, the new generation of global citizens, to also understand our role in the world that created these problems.

As you are beginning to truly prepare for your journey abroad, it is also a good time to begin thinking about your identity, and what features of your identity may define your experiences abroad. How are you expecting to interact with the culture around you? How are you expecting the host country to perceive you? And how might your identity, be it your gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or life experiences, affect these interactions abroad?

Sunset in Amman with some wonderful friends

These questions are important to ask yourself as you prepare for your journey, especially if you are travelling to a less traditional destination for study abroad. As you prepare to become a Global Citizen, it is important to manage your expectations. You cannot immerse yourself 100% to the point of ‘becoming’ a local, but you can consciously shape your experience by interacting with the local culture as much as your identity will allow. You can acknowledge the way that your identity shapes your experiences there. Finally, you can use this knowledge to gain an even larger understanding of the culture you have chosen to live in, and the way in which that culture interacts with the rest of the world.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself”

Tiffany Wilk, Peer Advisor