7 Steps To Become A Global Citizen
We live in an interconnected world, with a growing focus on becoming more globally-minded. Many organizations and universities refer to this phenomenon as enhancing “global citizenship,” or creating “global citizens,” and encourage a variety of international activities, including: a volunteer experience, domestic/international internships, a gap year, or an international service-learning program.
What is a global citizen?
A global citizen is an individual who is aware of the world and has a sense of their role in it; respects and values diversity, and is knowledgeable of and works against social injustices; has an understanding of the world, and participates in communities at all levels (from local to global); and lastly, takes responsibility for his/her actions and beliefs.
To become a global citizen, you will have to be creative, flexible, dedicated, and proactive. Global citizens take an active part in the emerging world community, and are committed to helping build this community’s values and practices.
This will mean developing skills related to problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. These skills are more and more becoming essential to success in the workplace, as well as life in general, and cannot be developed without a bit of active, self-directed learning.
Further Reading: 3 Key Reasons Why International Experience Is A Career Must
Why become a global citizen?
Global citizenship is becoming a widespread topic in higher education, because it deals with issues of global interdependence, diversity of identities and cultures, sustainable development, peace and conflict, and inequities related to power, resources and respect.
The movement of ideas and culture through media and technology is growing, international politics and international relations create systems in which we all live, and environmentally we are all responsible for the health and future of our planet. Universities seek to “internationalize” their campuses by increasing international exposure to their students.
This means that 21st century students will require adequate preparation, so that they may succeed in this quickly-developing world, in both their professional and their personal lives.
Further Reading: One Skill Every 21st Century Student Should Have and How to Get It
How to become a global citizen
Now that we’ve discussed what it is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at how you can become a more global citizen with these seven steps.
Step 1: Get Inspired
Give yourself a world map and find books on places you would like to visit: nonfiction, fiction, language books, or geographical books. Finding your passion and keeping yourself inspired by the breadth of different countries and cultures will give you the motivation to learn and integrate yourself more.
Step 2: Get Educated
Take global education courses at your high school or university, and build your knowledge base for international happenings. Courses involved with leadership, business, or community engagement are especially helpful. Volunteer to organize an International Day at your school, join whatever international clubs exist on campus, and get creative and involved!
Further Reading: 6 Tips on How To Be A Responsible Volunteer
Step 3: Get Hungry
Eat at at different ethnic restaurants and make strides to learn a language. Get to know the owners of the restaurants – where are they from? What are their stories? Buy an ethnic cookbook and make your own meals. You can even make it fun and have themed parties where everyone brings a specific dish and try to speak only that language throughout the dinner party.
Further Reading: 10 Tips to Make Language Learning Fun
Step 4: Read More
Read globally-minded magazines (e.g. The Economist, National Geographic, and Time) and listen to international news (e.g. NPR, BBC, and The New York Times) to get more informed about potential places you would like to go and to keep up with important current events. This increased exposure will help you narrow down your focuses, as well as provide you with a knowledge-base for global trends.
Step 5: Go Abroad
Find programs that allow you to study and live abroad, perhaps even with an internship component. It’s even better if these opportunities include a language-learning option. Especially if you’re interested in international careers, this kind of international experience is critical for your success. It’s also important that you carefully consider the experience while you’re having it, to deepen your understanding and integration with the experiential material.
Further Reading: 6 Ways To Deepen Your Travel Experiences
Step 6: Make Friends
During your time domestically, you can find ways of having cross-cultural friendships or relationships on campus, with exchange students, etc. If possible, find an international pen-pal (or an email pal, or Whatsapp pal) and socialize with them/exchange perspectives. This is a good way to prepare for a trip abroad too!
Step 7: Become a leader
As you get more honed with your abilities, begin to organize or lead international travel groups. Plan your own trips, and coordinate group travel and study options with your peers. Also get more involved with the international community on a wide scale: attend international conferences, participate in international internships, and continue to read up on cross-cultural skills in the work environment from trusted sources.
Plan for your future as a global citizen
The more internationally involved you get, the better equipped you will become with global skills for your future career success. It’s important that you stay plugged in, as international trends continue to expand and shift.
Don’t forget to let your interests guide you! Nearly every topic of academic study can include and benefit from an international component, and can help you become a more global citizen.
Further Reading: 5 New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 and How To Save For Them
Feel ready to start making a difference? Find out more about GVI’s international, award-winning volunteering programs and internships, and choose from community development, animal care, teaching, women’s empowerment, and conservation projects worldwide.
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