Global Citizenship - What is it for the youth of tomorrow?

Vaidehi Krishnan, Generation Global Alumni Moderator

Over the last two decades and so, especially in a rapidly interconnected world, it is common to hear people talk about global citizenship. At first glance, the term seems to be self-explanatory, but on further thought what do we as teenagers understand by ‘global citizens’? More importantly, how do we become one?

Having struggled with these questions over the last few years, I understand how deeply frustrating it can be to not have a clear understanding of your relationship with the world. This blog aims to address the questions and hopefully help you in your journey to becoming a global citizen.

Who are global citizens?

Before we proceed, it is necessary to define what the term ‘Global Citizens’ means to us as individuals. According to me, there is no one single definition, but rather a set of values which lie at the heart of all ideas around global citizenship, allowing for dynamic individual interpretations. Among the many are a deep curiosity and appreciation for different cultures, a sense of active responsibility that goes beyond national borders, and an unwavering commitment towards achieving equity for all people around the world can be some of the many.

Whenever I am faced with a complex idea, I enjoy breaking it down, in order to unravel the intricacies and understand them better within the required context (nothing exists in isolation; everything exists within a context). But how does one start thinking about becoming a global citizen? Engaging in dialogues with peers and elders, reading and educating ourselves about the nature and systems of the world, and expressing an interest in our local culture and those different from ours can make for impressive starts.

How can we be global citizens?

Joining the Generation Global programme as a ninth-grade student helped me nurture the skills and attitudes required to be a global citizen. The Ultimate Dialogue Adventure (UDA), a student platform of Generation Global, provides an engaging and interactive platform to practice future ready skills by having dialogues with peers on a wide range of topics such as ‘The Rights of Girls and Women’, ‘Identity and Belonging’ among many others.To make it even more rewarding, creating dialogues in the dialogue spaces and responding to others earns you points in the form of XPs. Certificates are awarded for understanding and mastering each of the five dialogue skills (global communication, active listening, critical thinking, questioning and reflection), and while this should not be the sole motivation for using these resources, it does help to boost morale.It surely helped me in making the most of the wonderful opportunities available on the platform.

The Ultimate Dialogue Adventure has a special topic and dedicated dialogue space for Global Citizenship. If one chooses to participate in this topic, you will first gain an understanding of it through engaging resources. Then move on to using the dialogue space to improve dialogue skills, such as sharing, challenging, and appreciating other young people’s points of view. After you have practiced dialogue, you can sign up for a video conference and interact with global peers in real time, giving you the unique opportunity to hear and inquire about the topic from people from different and diverse cultures.

During my time as a student using the UDA, I came back from video conferences proud of the diversity of our identities, while appreciating the shared ideas and thoughts.

This made me aware of the power I have as a citizen, allowing me to change how I saw myself in relation to the rest of the world. I no longer thought I was too young to educate myself, and to influence change in the world. I started taking responsibility for my actions and how they affect those around me.

Why do we need to be global citizens?

A pertinent question!

I think cultivating and further nurturing a deep understanding of the world and its people not only makes us better humans, but it also makes our lives richer, and gives us a sense of purpose which goes beyond our everyday goals.

Now that we have easy access to information from all over the world, it is our responsibility to go beyond our immediate communities and acknowledge that we are also influenced and affected by global developments. Furthermore, it is crucial to be aware of the need for collective and collaborative action. Building on what Kurt Koffka, the Gestalt Psychologist said,“the whole is something else than the sum of the parts”, it is the time to realise the importance of community while also ensuring that individual identities are recognised and valued.

As global citizens, we have everything to win, and nothing to lose!

I hope this blog resonated with you. All the very best on your journey to grow as global citizens.

Learn more about how young people participating in the Ultimate Dialogue Adventure can apply to join our Alumni programme.