International Travel and Becoming Global Citizens
As the summer months are upon us and we watch as international travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, now is a good time to remember what it means to be good global citizens.
Being a global citizen means embracing a broader perspective and recognizing the diverse influences that shape our lives. It's about acknowledging that our individual stories are interwoven with the stories of others from around the world. All of this sounds well and good until our cultural norms, expectations, and desires conflict with those of our host country. What do we do when our lived realities butt heads? Today, I invite you to embark on a journey of self-discovery and explore the transformative process of becoming a global citizen.
Ironic, given the name of this blog, becoming a global citizen is not actually about hopping on a plane and exploring different countries. It's a mindset, a way of thinking that transcends borders and embraces the diverse lived experiences of our fellow humans. It starts by looking inward and reflecting on the influences that have shaped us. Our families, cultures, and communities have all contributed to who we are today. But it doesn't stop there. The cultures, traditions, and practices of others have also contributed to our personal, spiritual, emotional, and mental development. By acknowledging and embracing all of these influences and then allowing them to speak to us about their own value, we can begin to appreciate the rich tapestry of human existence.
Imagine sitting in a bustling café, sipping a cup of coffee while watching people from different walks of life pass by. Each person carries their own unique story, their own struggles and triumphs. By truly embracing and listening to these influences as they come in and out of our lives, we can learn to appreciate the beauty of diversity and find common ground with those around us.
Three simple practices for becoming a global citizen:
1. Cultivate Empathy: Empathy is the key that unlocks understanding. Take the time to listen to the stories of others without judgment, allowing their experiences to speak to you and inform your lived experience. Put yourself in their unique circumstances and strive to understand their perspective without needing to share your own. By doing so, you'll develop a deep sense of empathy that has the capacity to bridge gaps between cultures, religions, and continents.
2. Embrace Cultural Learning: Seek out opportunities for cultural learning, whether it's through language classes, community festivals, or simply engaging in conversations with people from different backgrounds. By engaging with diverse communities in a spirit of humility, you'll gain a broader understanding and develop a genuine appreciation for the richness of human traditions.
3. Volunteer and Give Back: Actively engage initiatives that promote social justice, equality, and environmental sustainability. By giving back to your local and global communities, you'll be making a positive impact and contributing to a more equitable world. Through these experiences, you'll come to realize that the challenges we face transcend borders and require our collective effort.
Becoming a global citizen is a lifelong journey, filled with moments of growth, introspection, and connection. It's about embracing the influences in your life and allowing them to guide you towards a more inclusive worldview. By cultivating empathy, embracing cultural learning, and giving back, we can contribute to a global community that thrives on unity, respect, and understanding.