We live in an interconnected world, with a growing focus on becoming more globally-minded.
Many organisations and universities refer to this phenomenon as enhancing “global citizenship”, or creating “global citizens”, and encourage a variety of international activities.
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.
They respect and value diversity and work to understand and add to efforts to achieve social development goals. Global citizens participate in communities at all levels (from local to global) and take responsibility for their actions and interactions with members of their own community and communities abroad.
To become a global citizen, you’ll have to be creative, flexible, dedicated and proactive. Global citizens get involved as members of the international community and are committed to building on this community in a meaningful and positive way.
This means that aspiring global citizens need to develop skills related to problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. These five skills are becoming more and more essential to success in the workplace, as well as life in general, and can add to both your personal and professional development in a big way.
Also, by engaging as a global citizen with GVI, you’ll broaden your global perspective and experience communities abroad safely.
Why become a global citizen?
Global citizenship is becoming a widespread topic in higher education. This is 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 world is becoming more globalised every day, with media and technology allowing ideas and cultures to cross borders faster than ever before. What’s more, international politics and international relations create systems in which we all live, and we’re all responsible for the health and future of the planet.
This means that twenty-first century students need to be prepared so that they can succeed in this quickly developing world, both professionally and personally.
So it’s no surprise that universities are looking to “internationalise” their campuses by increasing the international exposure their students have access to.
How to become a global citizen
Now that we’ve discussed what global citizenship is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at how you can become a global citizen with these seven steps.
1) Get inspired
Find yourself a world map and collect books on places you would like to visit. These can include both fiction and nonfiction, language, 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 into the global community.
2) Get educated
Take global education courses at your high school or college, and build your knowledge base for international happenings. Courses involved with leadership, business or community engagement are especially helpful.
Volunteer to organise an “International Day” at your school, join whatever international clubs exist on campus, and get creative and involved!
3) Get hungry
Eat at different traditional 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 a cookbook and try to learn about a different culture’s cuisine. You can even make it fun and have themed parties (when it’s safe to do so again) where everyone brings a specific dish, and tries to speak only that language throughout the dinner party.
4) Read more
Read globally-minded magazines and pay attention to international news to get better informed about, and keep up with, current events at places you would potentially like to visit.
This increased exposure will help you narrow down your focus, and provide you with a knowledge-base for global trends.
5) Go abroad
Find programs that allow you to study and live abroad, perhaps even with an internship component, for increased mentorship and skills development. If these opportunities include a language-learning option, even better!
Interested in international careers? This kind of international experience is critical for your success. It’s important that you carefully consider and reflect upon your experiences, to deepen your understanding of and integration with the experiential material.
6) Make friends
During your time domestically, you can find ways to establish 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 exchange perspectives. This is a good way to prepare for a trip abroad too!
7) Become a leader
To develop your abilities, begin to organise or lead international travel groups. Plan your own trips, and coordinate responsible group travel and study options with your peers.
This is also a great way to get more involved with the international community. 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’ll be with global skills for 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 this can help you become a more globally minded citizen.